OSSIAN – The Leo Lions are still undefeated, but just barely.
A 31-yard field goal by Carson McCauley with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Friday gave the Lions (3-0) a 3-2 lead over Norwell, just enough to prevail in the Knights' home opener.
“Norwell did a great job; they played an incredible football game, and we were fortunate to get out of here with a win, very fortunate,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said. “They came out ready to play and executed much better than we did, so we're lucky. We're lucky to get out of here.”
The Lions had rolled over their first two opponents, hanging 36 points on Woodlan in the season opener and then 33 on Angola, with running back Peyton Wall scoring four touchdowns in each contest. But it wasn't that easy this time.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough defense, but they came out really strong. They stopped our run game, they stopped our pass game,” Wall said. “I came in thinking yeah, they're going to be tough tacklers. But they tackled phenomenal. I couldn't break any tackles. They flew to the ball, they stopped the run game pretty well.”
Norwell (2-1) had a chance to score late in the first quarter, but on third down with the ball at the 25-yard line, Eli Riley's heave down the sideline was picked off by Gavin James. Another strong drive, this time late in the second quarter, ended when Riley was again intercepted, this time by Damien Gudakunst.
But the tide turned almost immediately, as Leo quarterback Jackson Barbour dropped back into the end zone and Norwell's Quinn Dreiband barreled through the line for the tackle and the safety, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead 43 seconds before halftime.
The Knights appeared to get another break late in the third quarter when Wall went to return a punt but fumbled, giving Norwell the ball on the 9-yard line. But the Knights came up empty on three plays and Chris Bear's field goal attempt from 23 yards went wide.
Wall and the rest of the Lions offense finally got going in the fourth quarter, although when Leo did finally get to the red zone Barbour was sacked on first down, losing nine yards. That was followed by an incomplete pass, a short carry by Wall and then the field goal.
With the clock winding down, the Knights put together what was probably their most impressive drive of the night, with Riley completing two long passes for first downs. An apparent interception by Wall was called back due to pass interference.
The Knights had one final chance to win their first game on their newly installed artificial turf field, but a 46-yard attempt by Bear fell short.