WATSON – Live Oak had as great a start as a team could hope for in their 28-19 victory over West Jefferson in Friday night’s All-Star Automotive jamboree.
The Eagles held the Buccaneers to four consecutive three-and-outs on defense, while the offense scored on each of their first three drives.
In those three drives, the Eagles ran for 85 yards on nine rushes and went 4-of-8 through the air for 37 yards. On defense Live Oak held West Jeff to six yards total, including minus-11 yards rushing in their first four possessions.
“We’re really pleased,” Live Oak coach Brett Beard said. “Going back last week to our scrimmage against somebody like St. Amant, who is disciplined and a lot like us and we play a quality, physical game. And then we turn around here against West Jeff where I have the utmost respect for these coaches because they were on the John Ehret team that beat us in the playoffs a few years back. To go against these athletes is exactly what we need to see. Our guys have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
“I think we’re very confident,” Live Oak senior linebacker Bret McCoy said. “I got a lot of respect for our DBs and we’re really strong up front with Jalen (Lee) and our D-Line. We have (Gabe) Kimble coming back so I don’t see anybody running on us much. I’m really confident.”
Army commitment Kee Hawkins led Live Oak in rushing, putting up 99 yards on 11 rushes and scoring two touchdowns. His running mate Hagen Long ran for 48 yards on seven touches, good for an average of 6.9 yards per carry with a touchdown to boot.
“That’s all our older guys,” Beard said. “Those are the guys that are returning, and we’ve had in the program for four years, ready to put into play. They’re excited to go play somebody else. You can tell these dudes play with a lot of energy, fire, and love for one another. It’s a great end to the preseason.”
Live Oak opened the scoring with a 10-yard rumble from Hawkins directly after a 15-yard run. After Hawkins took every touch on that three-play, 46-yard drive, Long carried the Eagles on the second drive and capped off a five-play, 58-yard drive with a five-yard run.
On their third drive, Live Oak took to the air and scored on a two-yard crossing route from Rhett Rosevear to Blaise Priester to take a 21-0 lead after just three series.
Rosevear finished with 5-of-13 for 44 yards and an interception.
West Jefferson found the scoreboard on the last play of the first half when quarterback Ronja Watson hit Tremell Withrow on a fade to the back pylon after picking up 60 yards on a pass to Withrow.
The Eagles answered with a five-yard run from Hawkins to make it 28-7, but the Buccaneers responded with two more chunk plays. The first one was a 73-yard pass to Antonio Gayden and the second a 53-yard pass to Calvyn Johnson on a crossing route.
Due to those big plays in the second half, West Jefferson ended up outgaining Live Oak in total offense, 248-237.