WATSON – There was an obvious gleam in the eyes of Live Oak’s players, a distinct bounce in their step following Thursday’s 30-0 District 4-5A victory over Belaire.
Two consecutive weeks of losing has that type of lingering effect on a team.
“It’s a big difference,” Live Oak defensive tackle Dammian Capling said. “I think after this game we got back together. We’re going to get back on track and start doing good.”
Live Oak (5-3 overall, 2-3) scored on four straight offensive possessions, rolled up 248 of its 286 total yards, and got a defensive safety during a 30-point first half.
Both coaches agreed to play the second half with a running clock.
“In situations like this, everything matters,” Live Oak coach Brett Beard said. “We’re trying to get back on track and you’re trying to get these guys comfortable playing with their attitude and swagger again, everything matters. Every rep (repetition) is a business rep and it’s got to be taken that way.”
Capling was the catalyst in Live Oak’s first-half surge, recovering a fumble at his own 10-yard-line after Belaire (1-7, 0-5) took its opening possession to the Eagles' 4.
“They drove on us, and after that, we just talked to each other, got the leadership together and stopped them,” Caplin said. “I don’t know who stripped it, but I saw the ball and went for it.”
Live Oak’s offense was perfect in the first half, scoring on all four its possessions, starting with a 90-yard drive after Capling’s fumble recovery.
The Eagles, who played without injured starters Kee Hawkins and MJ Hughes, got rushing touchdowns from Hagen Long (8-84), Caleb Edelmann (6-22) and Wesley Daigle (8-58) for a 21-0 lead after Tanner Martin’s three extra points.
Capling led a defensive charge late in the second quarter that registered a safety, tackling Belaire quarterback Jakhari Bullock in the end zone with 1:03 showing before halftime.
“You come out and it’s a flat atmosphere and we’re a little flat,” Beard said. “Instead of setting the tone, which is a big thing we talked about, we missed a couple of tackles early and they’re athletic enough to make plays. I don’t take anything away from them. I was pleased with the way we played. It was a little slow, but I was pleased.”
Live Oak capped the half, covering 42 yards after a free kick, in just over a minute.
Quarterback Sal Palermo connected down the middle of the field with Darian Ricard for a 25-yard TD strike on the final play.
Palermo completed 4-of-5 passes for 95 yards and was replaced in the second half by Rhett Rosevear at quarterback.
“I thought we did a better job up front protecting,” Beard said. “When you give Sal an opportunity to go through his progressions and his reads and is comfortable, you see a different player back there.”
Belaire threatened to score on its initial possession, reaching Live Oak’s 10 on Bullock’s 45-yard scramble and a 28-yard completion to Ahmad Lathan.
Bullock accounted for 77 yards of offense for the Bengals.
The Bengals, who finished with 90 total yards on 30 plays, later got to the Eagles’ 4-yard line when on third-and-goal, Capling recovered running back Jekeladrick Powell’s fumble on a run to the left, falling on it at the 10-yard-line with 7:46 left in the first quarter.
“The most discouraging thing is to see the kids put their heads down,” Belaire coach Kevin Jackson said. “Being a coach, you have to find a way to lift them up, let them know that everything’s going to be OK and just to keep on fighting.”
Live Oak promptly drove 90 yards in 8 plays, keyed by a 40-yard pass play from Palermo to Grant Richardson, when Long scored from 11 yards out over the left side.
The Eagles followed that with a 9-play, 64-yard drive – eight of which were on the ground – when Edelmann finished the 4-plus minute drive with a 9-yard TD.
Favorable field position following a short punt was a big key in Live Oak’s third possession with Daigle carrying on three of the drive’s four plays, scoring on first-and-goal from two yards out for a 21-0 lead.
A high snap on first down resulted in a loss of 19 yards and was a bad omen for Belaire, which surrendered a safety with 1:03 to play with Capling leading a charge of defenders who sacked Bullock.
“At the beginning of the game, we started off a little bit slow,” Capling said. “After the fumble recovery I think we sped up, got together and started playing good.”
Live Oak 30, Belaire 0
Score By Quarters
Belaire 0 0 0 0 - 0
Live Oak 7 23 0 0 - 30
LOHS – Hagan Long 11 run (Tanner Martin kick)
LOHS – Calen Edelmann 9 run (Martin kick)
LOHS – Wesley Daigle 2 run (Martin kick)
LOHS – Safety. Jahkari Bullock tackled in end zone
LOHS – Darian Ricard 25 pass from Sal Palermo (Martin kick)
First Downs 5 12
Rushes-Yards 17-38 32-191
Passing Yards 52 95
C-A-I 4-14-0 4-5-0
Punts-Avg. 2-13.2 1-33
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 3-25 6-45