After coming out to a quick start, things quickly cooled down Adam Lowrey’s West Oktibbeha squad as they dropped a 22-19 decision to South Leake on Homecoming.
The loss creates a must win scenario when the Timberwolves (6-4) travel to French Camp next week if they want to earn a playoff bid in the season finale.
West Oktibbeha took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter after a 64-yard pass from Von Smith to Dwight Quinn, but the Wildcats of South Leake went on to score all of their 22 points before the Timberwolves scored again.
“We played the first quarter really good and after that it just went south,” Lowrey said. “We just played bad.”
South Leake dominated the time of possession and wore down the Timberwolves’ defense, notching scoring drives of 92 and 98 yards. Controlling the ball also meant keeping the ball away from West Oktibbeha’s high-powered passing offense.
The Wildcats’ secondary picked off Smith four times and held the sophomore to 139 yards passing, one of his lowest outputs of the season.
Lowrey said the South Leake defense decided they would give up some ground in the run game if it meant stopping the passing attack.
“They played good on defense,” Lowrey said. “They were giving up the run, but they knew they had to stop the pass. I think effectively they stopped the pass.”
After falling behind early, South Leake put together two long touchdown drives in the second quarter to gain a 14-13 advantage at halftime.
The Timberwolves twice found themselves in first and goal situations with opportunities to take the lead, but interceptions ended both the scoring threats in the second half. Smith’s third interception gave South Leake the ball at their own two yard line with over eight minutes remaining.
The Timberwolves would not get the ball again until 0:36 seconds remained on the clock. Behind senior running back Dimitri Shepard, who rushed for 126 yards for the night, the Wildcats drove the length of the field and ate up almost all of the time left on the clock while doing so.
Gates Deante scored from 2 yards out and Trey Townsend found Dequan Moore to convert the two-point conversion, giving South Leake a 22-13 lead.
“They finished the game like champs,” Lowrey said. “I thought we just folded the tent.”
In a bizarre play to end regulation, West Oktibbeha scored after South Leake intercepted a pass as time expired, but did not kneel to end the ballgame. The defender ran around and dropped the ball to go celebrate with his teammates. Before he realized he had not ended the play, Aaron Brownlee scooped the ball up and ran in for a touchdown to make the final score 22-19.
After the senior night loss, the Timberwolves will need a win next week to keep the season alive and advance to the 1A playoffs.
“We need to take care of business,” Lowrey said. “That’s what we gotta do.”