BATON ROUGE -- Live Oak battled its way to a halftime lead Friday at Woodlawn, then pulled away with a series of big plays in the second half.
From start to finish, a stingy defense and balanced rushing attack paced the Eagles in a 21-0 victory on a wet field at third-year coach Brett Beard’s previous school.
“You can’t ever mimic a Week 1 game,” Beard said. “Jamboree and a scrimmage is not Week 1. It’s not real against a real opponent like this. So it took us some time to get going, and fortunately enough for us, defensively, they can keep us in some good situations until we get going. They’ve done a good job of that.”
Both defenses lived up to strong billing in a first half that saw just a combined 96 yards and seven first downs — much of which came in its final few minutes.
A dropped snap and pair of penalties forced Woodlawn (0-1) to punt out of its own end zone midway through the second quarter.
Live Oak (1-0) began the ensuing drive 35 yards from the end zone and needed just four plays for Hagen Long’s 3-yard run to put his team on the scoreboard, 7-0.
“I know there was 13 punts in the first half combined,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “But even then, they may have done six plays instead of three. And three plays against an offense like that is going to hurt your defense because you’re going to leave them on the field a lot longer than they need to be. We’ve got to get better at not always just scoring, but being able to move the sticks, flip the field and keep our defense off the field sometimes.”
The Eagles continued to wear on the Panthers after the midway mark.
Long and Kee Hawkins highlighted a consistent attack for much of the game. Hawkins led all players with 65 yards on 18 carries, including a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Long added 41 on 14 attempts.
Backup quarterback Cameron Dickerson burned Woodlawn for two of Live Oak’s three biggest plays, including a 40-yard TD dash that stretched the lead to 13-0 in the final minute of the third quarter.
“All drive, Kee was pounding the ball, up the middle, up the middle,” said Dickerson, who finished with 55 yards on five rushes. “And on the touchdown run, Hagen comes by and makes a huge run to set up the touchdown, so I give all the credit to those two guys being able to set that touchdown run up.”
The Eagles’ defense continued to swarm, contain and frustrate the Panthers en route to the shutout. Woodlawn finished with just 94 total yards and six first downs, while Live Oak eventually compiled 208 rushing yards, a 23-yard pass and 12 first downs.
“We were able to get pressure on the quarterback and we feel like we’ve got the best run-stop defense in the state,” senior linebacker Zach Legendre said. “We have nine returning starters. We feel like we can play with anybody.”
The Eagles forced a Panthers’ three-and-out immediately following Dickerson’s gallop. Legendre batted down a third-down pass attempt for a third straight incompletion, then blocked the fourth-down punt attempt.
Live Oak took over at the 34-yard-line and added its third touchdown eight plays later as Hawkins powered over the goal line from the 1.
Junior quarterback Sal Palermo found Hawkins for a two-point conversion pass and the 21-0 final.
“I love this place,” Beard said. “I wanted to come back to this place. Ideally we’d love to play on the turf, because we’re spoiled with it. But I love this place. I love these kids. I love the atmosphere here. I wanted to come back and be on the other side of it and look at it and see my friends that have done great things and become great coaches across from me.
“I’m excited to be able to go against those guys. They do a phenomenal job, and they’ve got a great team. I tell you what: If people are sleeping on Woodlawn, those cats right there, once they get in game shape and play a little bit, they’ve got a chance to be really good.”
Live Oak plays its home opener next Friday when it hosts Mandeville, a 34-0 loser to University High.
LIVE OAK 21, WOODLAWN 0
Live Oak 0 7 6 8 -- 21
Woodlawn 0 0 0 0 -- 0
LO – Hagen Long 2 run (Nathan Holliday kick)
LO – Cameron Dickerson 40 run (kick failed)
LO – Kee Hawkins 1 run (Hawkins pass from Sal Palermo)
LO | WO
12 | First downs | 6
231 | Total yards | 94
49-208 | Rushes-yards | 23-91
23 | Passing yards | 51
1-4-0 | Passes | 3-21-0
1-1 | Fumbles-lost | 3-0
6-43.3 | Punts-Avg. | 10-43.8
2-20 | Penalties-yards | 6-50