Turnovers piled up for Leesville, leading to its first regular season loss since September 2017.
The Wampus Cats totaled five turnovers in their 37-35 loss to Tioga Friday night at home.
"They had a great game plan, their kids played hard and didn't make mistakes," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "They took it to us. We had some injuries, and it cost us at times, but the five turnovers really did us in. It's my fault. I told the kids that when we win, the credit goes to them. When we lose, it's mine. They out-executed us."
The Leesville defense had its hands full going against the high-powered Indian offense, which totaled 417 yards.
"We didn't execute at times," Causey said. "We were inconsistent. We were playing seven underclassmen, including some sophomores on defense. But you can't say that's an excuse. You have to execute. When you're young, you can't do a whole lot, especially here at Leesville. You have to load up one side of the ball because of the influx on military kids. There are a lot of kids that don't make it here, because they've transferred out because of the type of base we have. So, you have to change the way you coach. You can't coach like you do at ASH or Tioga. You don't know what you're going to have until August."
Despite all the miscues, the Wampus Cats still put themselves in a position to pick up the win.
Trailing 31-28 with four minutes to play on its own 3-yard line, Leesville quarterback Jacob Mount found an open Caleb Gallashaw running free between the safeties for a 97-yard touchdown to take the lead.
"Our skill kids are veteran skill kids, and that's what you lean on," Causey said. "They perform, and our sophomore running back (Gallashaw) acts like he's a senior. He takes care of his position, and he's going to compete. That's what you lean on. I think, upfront, we're out gunned every Friday night, as little as we are. But those kids keep plugging away."
Tioga reclaimed the lead on the next possession with a 15-yard touchdown pass by Blake McGehee with 1:20 left on the clock.
The Wampus Cats went to the air with less than a minute to play, but an interception by Mount ended the game.
Despite the loss, Causey was proud of the way his team kept playing.
"Our kids competed," he said. "What I told them is that you showed them that name on the front of that jersey means something. You played Wampus Cat football, because you fought to the bitter end. You never quit. We didn't make it easy on them. As bad as we played, we only got beat by 3.
"There are no big games in a 10-game season. You can't circle one and say that it is your year, because there are other games to play and Power Points that we have to go get."
The Wampus Cats lead 21-17 at halftime, following a 35-yard flea flicker from Mount to tight end Noah Allain for the touchdown.
Tioga took the lead in the third quarter on a pair of rushing touchdowns by running back Antonio Logan. Logan was an issue for Leesville, rushing for 211 yards on 30 carries.
The Wampus Cats pulled within 3 with a 5-yard touchdown run by Gallashaw to make it 31-28.
Gallashaw led the Leesville offense with 99 yards on 15 carries. D'Ante Gallashaw added 66 yards on 14 carries.
"Our offense moved the ball up-and-down on them" Causey said. "Coach (Justin) Scogin and them had a great game plan. We just have to execute a little bit better."
Mount finished 6-for-11 for 179 yards in the loss.
Leesville will battle for the Hooper Trophy Friday night at DeRidder.