Rabbits lose to Leopards in final non-district contest
Atlanta finished up a brutal non-district schedule this past Friday night which included Gilmer, Gladewater, Pleasant Grove and Liberty-Eylau.
The latter got the best of the Rabbs by a score of 41-7.
Atlanta now looks ahead to playing 3A teams it hasn’t seen in more than a decade.
Remember the 2003 state team? They barely beat Paris (6-3) to open the season before losing four straight to Hallsville (16-13), Texas High (19-7), Mt. Pleasant (27-26) and Marshall (14-12).
The Rabbs then won 11 straight to win the title. In that season they beat the likes of Gilmer and Jefferson.
Head Coach Matt McClure, before the season began, alluded to growing pains of a young offensive and defensive line which would take real-time gameplay to bring them into their own.
Every team experiences those at one time or another, and overcomes the variables.
Now is the time to change those variables and prepare for a district grind beginning with Redwater.
L-E won the toss but deferred to the second half.
Atlanta went three-and-out on its first drive and had to punt the ball away at the 10:13 mark.
The Leopards took the ball on the Rabbit 22 after a shanked punt.
Three plays is all the Leopards needed to cross the goal line. The PAT put L-E up 7-0 with 9:42 left in the first quarter.
Atlanta’s next drive showed promise after solid runs by Caleb Hamilton and Dra Nelson, but the Leopard defense forced another Rabbit punt with 7:58 left in the opening quarter.
L-E picked up big gains on a screen and another pass play which put them deep into Rabbit country.
The drive ended with a 28-yard field goal attempt which fell short of the crossbar at the 5:42 mark.
The Rabbits put together a long, clock-eating drive which began at the 20-yard line.
Quarterback Andy Samples made two nice pass plays to Kade Wood for 13 yards and Hamilton for 25, and the Rabbs continued to use the ground attack of Nelson, Hamilton and Jawan King.
Atlanta ended up at the Leopard 30-yard line after seven plays, and Samples used his legs to get the Rabbs down to the 10.
Four plays later, from the eight, Fernando Campos came on for a 26-yard FG attempt.
The kick would have split the uprights but it was blocked.
A penalty against L-E put Atlanta at the 4-yard line, and the Rabbs decided to go for it.
An incomplete pass gave the ball back to L-E with 18 seconds left in the first quarter.
The quarter ended with a 3-yard run by L-E.
The Leopards opened the second stanza with a 4:03, 96-yard drive which ended with a 1-yard TD run.
The PAT was no good but L-E was up 13-0 with 7:57 left in the first half.
Atlanta’s next drive was stalled after a fumble on second down cost them 12 yards, and the third down run by Hamilton wasn’t enough to pick up the necessary yardage.
Atlanta punted the ball away with 5:47 left on the clock.
The Leopards only needed four plays to reach the endzone again.
The 2-point play was successful and L-E increased its lead to 21-0 with 4:27 left in the second quarter.
Atlanta’s next drive began with positive plays as King gained 17 yards in two plays, and Samples 15 in one carry.
Unfortunately Samples had the ball knocked out from under his arm and L-E recovered the fumble with 3:04 left on the clock.
L-E took advantage of the turnover and scored on a 10 play drive from the 37.
The PAT was no good but the Leopards were up 27-0 with seven seconds left in the half.
L-E opened the third quarter with the ball and scored on the opening drive and its next drive.
Both times the L-E kicker nailed the PATs and L-E’s lead was increased to 41-0.
Both Atlanta drives ended in punts.
L-E attempted a FG with 2:38 left in the third quarter but it was blocked by the Rabbs, and Atlanta took over at the 20-yard line.
Nelson gained three yards before a 10-yard pickup by Hamilton.
Samples hit Nelson on a screen pass on the next snap and Nelson gained 24 yards to the L-E 43-yard line.
Hamilton bolted for 17 yards to the 26 and Samples picked up six yards to put the rock at the 20-yard line.
The quarter ended with Nelson picking up eight yards and a first down.
Working from the 17 Hamilton lost three yards only to pick up 15 on the next play.
On first-and-goal Samples pitched the ball to King who rumbled into the endzone at the 10:40 mark.
Campos hit the PAT and the score was 41-7.
L-E’s next drive ended with a punt, and Atlanta took over at the 23.
King went to work on the ground as he took four consecutive handoffs for 18 yards, but the Rabbs faced fourth and short just a few plays later.
The punt hit an Atlanta player behind the line of scrimmage and the punter took off for the first down marker and gained 10 yards on the play.
With new life from the 50, Nelson took the handoff four yards and then took the next handoff 14 yards to the 32.
Hamilton took three handoffs in a row for a total of eight yards, but on fourth down and two King was hit behind the line for a loss and a turnover on downs.
Neither team scored again.
Atlanta opens district play against Redwater on the road with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.