It is hard to win a football game when you turn the ball over six times, but Kosciusko almost did in a 26-20 loss to Leake Central, a contest that went to three overtimes.
The loss, combined with two forfeits when Kosciusko was not able to play while the school went virtual, eliminates the Whippets from playoff contention.
With two games left, Louisville leads Region 4-4A with a 3-0 record. West Lauderdale, Choctaw Central and Leake Central are all 2-1, Kosciusko and Northeast Lauderdale 0-3. One win each for West Lauderdale and Choctaw Central were the forfeits by Kosciusko.
Kosciusko concludes the season with road games Friday against Northeast Lauderdale and Oct. 30 against Louisville. But even if the Whippets win both to finish 2-3, the best they could do is tie the three teams currently 2-1, but would miss the playoffs as a result of losses to all three.
Kosciusko not only missed two games, but was unable to practice during that period. “I don’t know if it set us back for preparation, but it killed a lot of momentum we had going,” said coach Casey Orr. “We had good wins over Choctaw County and Holly Springs.”
In the two games before the hiatus, Kosciusko was hitting its stride with victories over Choctaw County 35-14 and Holly Springs 39-6.
While acknowledging the lost momentum, Orr would not use that as an excuse. “We had to handle our business. We knew what was in front of us, what we had to accomplish, and we didn’t get it done. It’s unfortunate that we lost the two weeks, but you have to come back and respond to it the right way.”
The Whippets’ defense did not allow any scoring until the overtime period. “The defense played great,” Orr said. “They (Leake Central) had two fumbles they scooped up and ran back for touchdowns. That hurts. The defense has been great all year.”
The Gators took a 6-0 first quarter lead on a 69-yard fumble return by Jamarcus Thompson.
Kosciusko tied it in the second quarter on a 24-yard pass from Ethan Wood to Antonio Harmon, but Leake went back ahead 13-7 at the half on a four-yard fumble return by Kelvoris Leflore.
Wood connected with Azikwe Mays on a 15-yard scoring pass in the third period and Will Carter added the extra point to make it 13-13, the score at the end of regulation,
Both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime, Kosciusko on a five-yard run by Lee Wade and Leake with a two-yard run by Leflore.
The Whippets had a chance to win the game in the second overtime after stopping Leake, but fumbled on the first play.
Leake went back ahead 26-20 on a five-yard run by Antonio Luckett in the third extra period. Kosciusko was unable to respond when a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
The Whippets ran off 80 plays to 57 for Leake, and outgained the Gators 274-193. Wood completed 12 passes for 163 yards. Harmon had five receptions for 53 yards, Mays three for 68 and Wade three for 32. Kentaveus Washington carried 11 times for 104 yards.
On defense, linebacker Ethan Dawson was credited with 18 tackles.
Northeast Lauderdale is 1-6, the only victory coming by forfeit against Quitman, and has managed only 290 yards in the six losses.
“They’re a physical football team. They line up and try to run the ball right at you,” Orr said. “We have to be able to stop them defensively. We feel like that’s our strength. Offensively, we just have to protect the ball better and be able to execute what we do.”