LEO-CEDARVILLE – It was a lot closer than last time, but Leo beat Angola for the second time this season, winning 21-16 on Friday night to advance to the second round of sectional play.
"They hit some big plays early on, and that put us in a tough position," Leo coach Jared Sauder said of the Hornets, who finish the season 4-6. "I give our guys credit for battling in the second half, as well. This is playoff football in Indiana, it's good stuff."
After falling behind in the second half, Angola quarterback Tucker Hasselman capped off a drive with a 6-yard keeper for a touchdown with 4:38 remaining in the game. That brought the Hornets within five points, but Leo tackled running back Antonio Luevanos on the 2-point conversion attempt.
Leo running back and defensive back Peyton Wall admitted that he was a little worried about the outcome of the game when Hasselman scored the final touchdown.
"But after they didn't on-side it and we got that first first down, we knew the game was sealed," Wall said.
The Lions (9-1) continued to march down the field in the final minutes, and then took a knee at the 15-yard line.
Angola, which fell 33-13 to Leo in Week 2 and opened the season 0-4, scored first, less than five minutes into the game. On fourth down, Hasselman threw a 30-yard pass to Luevanos, dropping it right in the receiver's open arms as he raced along the Leo sideline and into the end zone.
But the Lions answered less than two minutes later as Wall broke away from the pack and ran 53-yards for a touchdown.
"I felt a break, and I just took off," Wall said. "After that, I felt the game was going to go our way a little."
The Hornets scored once more, on a 31-yard field goal by Brandon Villafuerte, to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
But the Lions took back the momentum in the second half, eating up more than half of the third quarter with a drive that concluded with a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Jackson Barbour.
In the fourth quarter, Greyson LaRocque cut to the Leo sideline and caught a pass from Barbour, then broke away for a 43-yard gain that brought the Lions to the 15-yard line. Soon after, Wall scored on a 5-yard run to put Leo up 21-16.
Wall finished the game with 172 rushing yards, and his teammate Mason Sheron had another 104.
"I'm really proud of our kids for coming out in the second half and battling and playing physical," Sauder said of holding Angola to six points in the second half. "We knew we had to come out and play more physical on both sides of the ball up front, that's what we talked about in the locker room. We made some adjustments, our defensive staff did a good job there, and the kids executed it well."
The Lions will face NorthWood (7-3) next week.