On paper, the matchup between Leesville and Rayne should have been close, and it was at the end, despite looking like a blowout in the first half.
The Wampus Cats’ road momentum and big plays down the field late to threaten the Wolves, but the deficit was too much as Leesville fell 28-18.
The loss puts Leesville at 4-1 on the year, but Wampus Cat head coach Robert Causey has no intentions of letting his guys stay down from the loss.
"I'm not going to give them that option. We don't quit," he said. "We're not going to lay down. This is how we do things and we're going to roll that direction."
With six seconds remaining the first half, Rayne running back Trent Winbush took a sweep into the endzone to the Wolves up 28-6.
Winbush had a big game for Rayne, racking up 183 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
"He's a beast. They don't beat us without him," Causey said. "Sometimes it's like a junior high game because they have the best player on the field and we couldn't stop him in the first half. In the second half, we made some adjustments up front and the kids executed it."
The Wolves gained positive yards regularly on first and second down, making it hard for the defense to get stops on third-and-short.
"We were caught on our heels. We lost our starting guard (Aaron Hunter) right off the bat," Causey said. "They did some things offensively with their scheme. They're a senior-loaded team and were more physical than we were at the point-of-attack. We just didn't have a fire in our belly, and they took us to the woodshed. Three of the scores were our fault because we didn't line up right or play the cutback. When those things happen, it's my fault."
Both teams were scoreless in the third quarter, but that changed quickly as quarterback Chris Vargas found receiver McKenzie Jackson for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
After a three-and-out by Rayne, Vargas found running back Andrew Croker for another 50-yard touchdown throw at the 8:17 mark in the fourth.
Trailing 28-18 late with just under five minutes to go, the Wampus Cats were unable to convert on a fourth-and-14, as Jackson came up short on a pass from Vargas.
"Our kids came out in the second half and played at a level that I hope made the community proud because they didn't quit," Causey said. "I've always taken pride in that our kids don't quit. That Rayne team is senior-loaded and have a lot of kids that go both ways, and I felt like if some things would have fallen our way earlier, we would have beat them. We're a better football team but we didn't play at that level we needed to. That's the lesson that's learned."
Vargas, a senior, was 20-42 through the air for 269 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
"We're so young up front. We had to play a kid that hasn't played in a couple of weeks against a veteran football team. We had a hard time blocking them but it's a lesson learned on what we need to do to compete at that level."
Croker had 111 yards receiving, and Jackson caught six passes for 113 yards.
"(Croker is) a player that embodies what you look for in a high school football player," Causey said. "He wants to do his very best for his teammates and he's willing to do it. He gives you the effort. A lot of guys talk the talk but don't walk the walk. He's a young man that tells you what he's going to do for his teammates and he does it. There's no lack of evidence that man didn't give everything he had."
Running back Dante Gallashaw added 53 yards on 10 carries for the Wampus Cats, and Tyreke Walker added 28 yards.