Rabbits fall to Leopards, 50-32, on Homecoming night
Atlanta hosted rival Liberty-Eylau last Friday before a huge Homecoming crowd which featured several classes from the past, and the crowning of Taylor Carver and Shanisha Anderson as Homecoming King and Queen.
In attendance were the coaches and players from the 1966 undefeated Rabbits’ team who graduated in 1967.
The Rabbs held on to a slight lead until the second quarter where L-E scored and never looked back en route to a, 50-32, win.
The game seemed to go back and forth with both teams scoring at will for a bit, but plenty of good field position for the Leopards and two costly turnovers gave them too many chances at the end zone.
Atlanta won the toss and elected to receive.
Beginning at the 11-yard line Jawan King opened the drive with a short gain but two plays later quarterback Andy Samples connected with Carson Rich for a 17-yard gain.
King took the next two handoffs before Samples hit Kade Wood for 12 yards.
Two short runs and an incomplete pass later and the Rabbs were forced to punt the ball away with 8:23 showing on the clock.
L-E took over at the 23 and after gaining 16 yards on the ground and connecting on a 30-yard pass the Leopards wound up at the Rabbit 36.
Atlanta’s defense rose to the challenge and stopped the Leopards from moving forward, and with 6:10 left in the first frame L-E had to punt the ball away.
Unfortunately the Rabbs fumbled the ball away at the 5:02 mark and L-E took the ball into the endzone on just three plays from the 27.
The successful PAT put the score at, 7-0, with 4:02 left in the quarter.
Not to be outdone, King took the handoff from the 16 and bolted 67 yards to the L-E 17 on the second play of the drive.
Samples hit Wood for three yards before Dra Nelson blazed across the goal line from 14 yards out.
The 2-point attempt was no good but the Rabbs were down just, 7-6, with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
L-E ended the opening quarter facing fourth down from the Atlanta 21.
The Leopards’ kicker missed the 39-yard attempt which gave the Rabbs possession from the 21 with just five ticks run off the clock.
A coplue of short runs by Samples and King along with an incomplete pass put the Rabbs back in punt formation at the 10:43 mark.
L-E looked to capitalize on good field position aided by a pass interference call against Atlanta which put them at the Rabbit 32.
Two short plays, a penalty against L-E and an incomplete pass brought up fourth down-and-8.
The Rabbs’ defense pressured L-E’s QB and an incomplete pass gave the Rabbits the ball at the 30.
Atlanta then went on a 70-yard drive which ended with a score in just two and a half minutes.
On the drive Samples completed passes to Rich and King, and King racked up 44 yards on the ground with the latter three coming on an option play for a touchdown.
The PAT was missed but Atlanta was up, 12-7, with 6:08 left in the first half.
Both teams came up short on their next drives but after a short punt put L-E at the Rabbit 24, the Leopards found the endzone again on just one play.
The 24-yard TD pass and the PAT put L-E ahead, 14-12, with 3:19 showing on the clock.
Atlanta’s next drive fizzled and another short punt from the 11 put L-E back at the Rabbit 24.
L-E needed three plays this go-around to score, but the missed 2-point conversion left the score at, 20-12, with 1:47 left in the second stanza.
The clock ran out after three running plays by the Rabbs.
L-E received the ball to begin the second half.
After a couple dead plays the Leopards struck for 25 yards on third down and followed that up with a 28-yard run to the Atlanta 7-yard line.
Three plays later the cats were back in the endzone.
The PAT drove the score to, 27-12, with 9:38 left in the quarter.
Atlanta wanted no part of a blowout and on the next drive the Rabbits answred with a 3-play, 79-yard drive in just over a minute.
After Austin Brown lost three yards on a sweep play, Samples hit Wood for 17 follwed by a 62-yard sprint by King for his second TD of the night.
The PAT was no good, but Atlanta trimmed the lead to, 27-18, with just 8:27 left in the third frame.
Most games between these two rivals involves a back-and-forth scoring attack, and the third quarter provided just that.
On L-E’s next drive, which once again started in Rabbit territory, the Leopards reeled off 36 yards to get down to the Rabbit 14.
Two plays later L-E scored to up the scoring total to, 35-18, with the successful 2-point play at the 5:41 mark.
Atlanta couldn’t catch a good break at all as Nick Washington’s nice kickoff return was called back by a penalty.
The Rabbs’ drive began at the 11 and after two incomplete passes looked like it may end there, but a first down pass from Samples to Cade Rosser kept the drive alive.
After a 6-yard gain by King, Samples made three consecutive passes totaling 62 yards to bring the Rabbs to the Leopard 10.
One of those passes was a 43-yard reception by Wood and the other two were to King.
From the 10, Samples gained five yards before making an incomplete pass from the 5-yard line.
On the next play Samples dove for the pylon and conneceted for another Rabbit touchdown.
The 2-point conversion was good this time and Atlanta pulled within, 35-26, with 2:51 left in the quarter.
Again L-E started their drive in Rabbit territory and again the cats scored in six plays.
The successful 2-point play pushed the score to, 43-26, with just a little over a minute left to play in the third quarter.
The Rabbs had the clock run out on them after Samples hit Rosser for nine yards.
King made a first down to open the final quarter, but three consecutive incomplete passes forced Atlanta to punt with 10:59 left in the contest.
After a Leopard punt the Rabbs moved the ball effectively from the 31 into L-E territory with an 8-yard run by King, a 3-yard run by Brown and a 14-yard pass play from Samples to Wood.
The drive ended with an interception at the 8:24 mark.
L-E pushed the lead to, 50-26, with 7:36 left in the game after a 33-yard TD pass.
On Atlanta’s final drive Samples gained 12 yards on the ground, King racked up 35, Nelson added nine and Samples completed two poasses to Wood.
One pass was for six yards and the 13-yard touchdown pass capped off an 8-play, 93-yard drive,
With 4:32 left in the game Atlanta was down, 50-32, after another missed PAT.
L-E ran out the clock on their next drive to seal the 18-point victory and their first of the year.
Samples was 14-for-22 with 184 passing yards and a touchdown, and the elusive QB also had 12 carries for 40 yards and a score.
Wood caught eight passes for 127 yards and a TD, Rich caught two passes for 22 yards, King caught three passes for 25 yards and Rosser’s lone catch was for 10 yards.
King led all rushers with 245 yards rushing on 25 catties and two TDs, and Nelson added 26 yards on three carries and a TD.
Atlanta rolled up 495 yards of total offense against the Leopards.
Atlanta (1-2) travels to New Boston this week for another pre-district battle with the Lions.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.