Cardinal Gibbons narrowly defeats Leesville Road in a close match to become the champions of the Cap-6 Conference.

Cardinal Gibbons narrowly defeats Leesville Road in a close match to become the champions of the Cap-6 Conference.

Cardinal Gibbons and Leesville Road once again engaged in their usual tradition of competing for a conference championship in a skillfully executed, evenly matched game.

Gibbons emerged victorious with a final score of 33-23, thanks to three touchdown passes from quarterback Gannon Jones and three total touchdowns from sophomore Aiden Smalls.

The Crusaders have a record of 8 wins and 2 losses for the entire season, with a perfect 6 wins and 0 losses in their Cap-6 Conference games.

Reeves Gipson of Leesville Road (8-2, 5-1) kicked three lengthy field goals.


What was on the line:

In past years, Gibbons and Leesville have started their Cap-6 Conference games at the beginning of the season, but this year it was decided to switch it to the end of the season.

Gibbons has been the conference champion for four consecutive years and has won six out of the last seven titles. The only exception was in 2019 when Leesville Road claimed the crown, as both schools went on to compete in state championship games.

The most recent instance of a team other than the two mentioned winning the conference was in 2016, during the Cap-8 Conference era when Wake Forest was a part of the league.

How it happened

Gibbons was ahead 13-3 in the beginning, but a fumbled punt gave Leesville an opportunity to come back in the second quarter. Running back Lyfe Shaw-Stephens completed a 25-yard throw to John Dooley, reducing the lead to 13-10 during that prolonged drive.

Gibbons executed another trick play, with quarterback Gannon Jones throwing a pass instead of punting on fourth down. Leesville was caught off-guard and the play resulted in a 67-yard touchdown pass to Aiden Smalls.

The score was 20-13 at halftime, but Leesville managed to take the lead in the latter part of the third quarter with a score of 23-20. Reeves Gipson contributed three successful field goals from a distance of 40 yards or more for the Pride.

However, the 13-point streak was countered by another 13-point streak, with Jones throwing a 79-yard pass to Chet Yardley after a red zone turnover by Leesville. Later on, Smalls threw a touchdown to increase the lead.

Scoring Summary

At 7:31 in the first quarter, Cardinal Gibbons scored a 10-yard touchdown with a pass from Gannon Jones to Aiden Smalls. However, the extra point was blocked, leaving Gibbons in the lead with a score of 6-0.

Reeves Gipson successfully kicks a 44-yard field goal for Leesville Road, bringing the score to 6-3 with 4:11 left in the game.

At the 10:23 mark, Conway Kelly scored a 1-yard touchdown run for Cardinal Gibbons. Ben Barrongou successfully made the extra point, giving Gibbons a 13-3 lead.

At the 8:38 mark, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Lyfe Shaw-Stephens to John Dooley puts Leesville Road on the board, with Gibbons still leading 13-10.

At 5:59 remaining in the second quarter, Cardinal Gibbons scored a 67-yard touchdown pass to Aiden Smalls from Gannon Jones, bringing their lead up to 20-10.

At Leesville Road, Reeves Gipson successfully kicked a 41-yard field goal, bringing the score to 20-13 with only 28 seconds remaining.

Xavier Lewis scored a 1-yard run for Leesville Road, with Reeves Gipson successfully completing the extra point. This tied the game at 20-20 with 7:14 remaining.

Leesville Road: 3rd quarter – 40-yard field goal scored by Reeves Gipson (Leesville is now leading 23-20 with 3 minutes and 44 seconds remaining).

At the end of the fourth quarter, Cardinal Gibbons scored a touchdown with a 79-yard pass from Gannon Jones to Chet Yardley, bringing them to a 27-23 lead with 1:20 left in the game.

Gibbons’ quarterback, Aiden Smalls, threw a 20-yard pass to Griffin Cockerham in the fourth quarter, resulting in a score of 33-23 with 2:46 remaining in the game.

What’s next


Gibbons was ranked as the fifth seed in the 4A East division, trailing behind only Rolesville (who had previously defeated Gibbons) and three teams with perfect records.

Initially, according to projections, Leesville Road was expected to play a home game as the 15th seed in the playoffs. However, this was subject to potential alterations.