ZACHARY – If ever there was a small crevasse to allow Live Oak to possibly ever get into Friday’s Class 5A state playoff opener, reigning two-time state champion Zachary was there to quickly spoil any such hopes.
Just over a month after Zachary left with a five-point victory in the District 4-5A opener between the two teams, the No. 5 Broncos displayed their traditional playoff mode by scoring the game’s first 32 points en route to a 39-7 victory Friday over the No. 28 Eagles at Bronco Stadium.
“When you dig a hole that big it’s tough to overcome,” Live Oak senior defensive lineman Jalen Lee, who had a pair of sacks. “Things didn’t go our way.”
Because of that, Live Oak (6-5) ended the season with its third straight loss and second straight first-round exit.
It made for a somber postgame where fifth-year coach Brett Beard commended his senior class for a job well done over the course of their career.
“We’ve gone through some ups and downs together,” Beard said. “There’s been some great wins and some tough losses. I couldn’t be prouder to have those guys come into my family for the rest of my life.”
Conversely, Zachary (8-2) takes a seven-game win streak into next week’s home regional against Hahnville. The Broncos, who have won their last 11 consecutive postseason games, showed marked improvement over the team that won 21-16 at Live Oak on Oct. 11.
“After we left out of there that night, there were a few come-to Jesus meetings that took place,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “I just didn’t feel like we played with passion the entire night the way we need to. We’re not good enough to not play like that. I’m happy with the way our guys put it on the line.”
Zachary carried a 17-0 lead midway into the third quarter when over a 31-second span, they broke the game wide open.
Standout wide receiver Chris Hilton took a short screen, broke out of a tackle and cut across the field on his way to a 68-yard touchdown to make it 23-0.
Three plays later, Live Oak’s Trennon O’Quin fumbled on an option run, which Zachary defensive back DeJarian Jones scooped and returned 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 29-0 at the 7:08 mark of the third quarter.
“When you go on the road as a No. 28 seed and looking for an upset, you’ve got to make the breaks,” Beard said. “To win a football game, and with your back against the wall against a perineal power, you have to do the little things. We didn’t do that.”
Zachary’s lead reached 32-0 after Logan Fletcher’s 32-yard field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter and Live Oak was later able to avert a shutout.
The Eagles, which gained 205 of their 235 yards in the second half, made it 32-7 with 9:05 remaining on Rhett Rosevear’s 30-yard TD pass to Byron Smith.
Rosevear completed 6 of 13 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown. He later suffered an interception by Jones at Zachary’s 16-yard line, which he returned 79 yards to set up his team’s final score – a 1-yard run from RJ Allen.
Quin, the beneficiary of Live Oak’s bringing back its option game, led the Eagles with 35 yards on 11 carries, while Kee Hawkins added 31 yards on 11 carries.
“Our defense was as good as I’ve seen them play in the six years that I’ve been here with that kind of performance,” Brewerton said.
Brown completed 10 of 18 passes for 211 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Hilton led the way with five catches for 129 yards, while Jayden Williams added three receptions for 36 yards and a TD.
Live Oak trailed 17-0 at halftime when a 45-yard field goal attempt from Cole Crenshaw went wide to the left with 28 seconds remaining.
The Eagles had put together their best drive of the half, picking up their initial first down of the game with 2:08 left when the Broncos jumped offside on fourth-and-three.
An option play to O’Quin around the left side resulted in a 13-yard gain - LOHS’ biggest to that juncture - to Zachary’s 36-yard line before two running plays resulted in three yards, setting up Crenshaw field goal attempt.
Live Oak’s defense forced Zachary into a three-and-out on its first series, but the Eagles were flagged for roughing the punter on fourth-and-eight which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and first down.
Five plays later Zachary was in the end zone with a 7-0 lead when Allen (13 carries for 51 yards) cut back to his right on a 7-yard run into the end zone at the 6:29 mark to complete the 9-play, 59-yard drive.
The Broncos increased their lead to 17-0 on a 9-yard pass from Brown to Williams just inside the corner of the end zone and Fletcher’s 26-yard field goal.
“I thought our kids battled,” Beard said. “You don’t always love the outcome of every game. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they played. For 48 minutes they gave us everything they could.”
Zachary 39, Live Oak 7
Score By Quarters
Live Oak 0 0 0 7 - 7
Zachary 14 3 15 7 - 39
ZHS – RJ Allen 6 run (Logan Fletcher kick)
ZHS – Jayden Williams 9 pass from Keilon Brown (Fletcher kick)
ZHS – FG Fletcher 26
ZHS – Chris Hilton 68 pass from Brown (run failed)
ZHS – DeJarian Jones 30 fumble recovery (pass failed)
ZHS – FG. Fletcher 32
LOHS – Byron Smith 30 pass from Rhett Rosevear (Cole Crenshaw kick)
ZHS – Allen 1 run (Fletcher kick)
First Downs 8 16
Rushes-Yards 37-110 29-89
Passing Yards 125 211
C-A-I 7-13-1 10-18-0
Punts-Avg. 5-27.2 1-25
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-0
Penalties-Yards 7-70 5-45