After losing for the first time in 17 games last week, Leeds brought the Wellborn Panthers back to earth Friday with a 35-14 victory.
After a scoreless first quarter, Wellborn got on the scoreboard first in the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Kevin Mixson. The key play in the drive was a 37-yard pass play from quarterback Juddson Smith to Dalton Screws. The score was 6-0 with 4:46 left before halftime.
Leeds responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive, with Ronald Woods scoring on a 25-yard run. The PAT by Keaton Glass was good and the halftime score of the defensive struggle was 7-6, in favor of the home team.
The Green Wave took the second-half kickoff and marched 57 yards in five plays, with Ladarius Rodgers scoring the first of three second-half touchdowns on a 7-yard run. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard pass and catch from quarterback D’Venta Smith to William Blaylock. Glass added the PAT to make it 14-6 with 9:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Wellborn was forced in a three-and-out and punted. This time, it was all Rodgers, as he gained 6 yards, then the final 55 yards for a touchdown. The PAT by Glass was good to make the score 21-6 with 7:02 left in the third stanza.
The Panthers cut into the Leeds lead as Chantz Goodman scored on an 18-yard run on fourth down and 5 with 9:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Mixson added the two-point conversion to make it 21-14.
Leeds drove 60 yards in nine plays to pad its lead with Rodgers scoring from 5 yards out to make it 28-14 with 5:04 left in the game.
Leeds added an insurance touchdown with 1:19 remaining on a 6-yard run by Christopher Edwards to make the final score 35-14.
Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said Leeds is a good defensive football team.
“They won the state title last year and two out of the past three years,” Smith said. “Two years ago, we were 1-9, fighting and scratching trying to get our team back and everything. I thought our kids played with a lot of heart tonight.”
Wellborn, 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the region, jumps out of the region next week and will take on Weaver at home.
Leeds coach Keith Etheredge said his team played well after a tough loss last week at Clay County.
“We played Leeds football tonight,” Etheredge said. “Wellborn is a great football team, but we are excited to get the win and I’m ready to go in here and celebrate with these guys.”
Rodgers led Leeds with 201 yards on 26 carries.
Rodgers had almost as much yardage as the entire Wellborn team. The Panthers managed just 214 total yards. Leeds doubled that output, totaling 419 yards.
“We had to come out with a lot of intensity,” Rodgers said. “Coach put the team on my back, and I couldn’t let them down.”
Woods also had a good night running the ball; he had 11 carries for 56 yards, while Edwards had eight carries for 52 yards.
William Blaylock carried the ball twice on the night, but they were for 19 and 15 yards on back-to-back runs late in the game. Blaylock carried a pile of defenders on each run.
“That’s how you run the football,” Etheredge said from the sidelines. “That’s Leeds football right there at its finest.”
Leeds is 3-1 overall and 2-1 in region play. They host St. Clair County next week. The Saints are 2-2 overall and coming off an impressive 28-20 win over Cleburne County.
Contact Gary Hanner at email@example.com.