WATSON – Live Oak coach Brett Beard has preached to his team to play a complete game.
Heading into the playoffs, the Eagles are still looking to do just that.
Central shut out Live Oak in the second half, sparking a 20-10 District 4-5a win over the Eagles in the regular season finale Friday at Live Oak.
“We’ve got to play a complete game,” Beard said after the Eagles had 113 yards of total offense and no first downs in the second half. “We’re going to keep grinding. We’re going to keep working and try to figure it out.
“It’s a little different this year,” Beard continued. “We’re getting to that point to where (it’s) almost like, make a choice. You either want to go or you want to stop. Well, go. Go make it happen. Go make the play. Go make the block. Go get it done. It’s a choice. Just get it done.”
Live Oak (6-4, 1-4 in District 4-5A) led 10-7 at halftime, and Central came out intent on running the ball primarily behind Isaiah Rankins but neither team scored until Da’veawn Armstead intercepted Rhett Rosevear and returned it to the LOHS 2, ending the Eagles’ second drive of the half.
“That was a huge play,” Central coach Sid Edwards said. “We’re down 10-7 and we’re still trying to find ourselves, and we’re still not clicking on offense. That ended up only giving us three, but it tied the game, and it changed the complexion of the game.
“I’m proud of our guys. I love competing against Live Oak because of the coaching and the high character and class that they present. It’s a good rivalry.”
The drive ended on Andrew Medine’s 22-yard field goal, knotting the score at 10 with 55 seconds to play in the third quarter.
After a Live Oak punt, Central (8-2, 3-2) went on an 11-play, 53-yard scoring drive. Sam Kennerson hit Andrew Myrick for a 13-yard gain on third down and Rankins had a five-yard carry on fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. Rankins finished with 74 yards on 21 carries after having seven yards on four carries in the first half.
“We were trying to get to the edge,” Edwards said. “That’s what we do best, and really what they do best is stop the run, so it was our strength against their strength.”
Four plays later, Jonathan Swift scored on a 5-yard run, and Medine’s PAT made the score 17-10 with 4:23 left in the game.
“Their big thing was they made some great plays in some tough spots, moved the chains,” Beard said. “I thought defensively, we really played well. I thought defensively, we fought and did some great things. Maybe you go back and look at it, we might have been out there a little more than we would have liked, and it probably caught up to us there a little bit at the end, but our guys fought. Our kids will fight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them for that. They will fight. We’ve just got to fight and finish. That’s it.”
Live Oak threw three incompletions and punted, but Swift busted a 47-yard run to the Live Oak 16 on the second play of the drive, leading to Medine’s 20-yard field goal with 44 seconds to play to close out the scoring.
“We’ve been killing ourselves,” Live Oak running back Kee Hawkins said after finishing with 80 yards on 18 carries. “The defense goes out there and battles their heart out. The offense goes out there, somehow we have our heads down …”
After stopping the Eagles for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Live Oak 46 on the first drive of the game, Central cashed when Kennerson hit Myrick on a 35-yard pass to the Live Oak 1, setting up Kennerson’s 1-yard keeper for a 7-0 lead.
Live Oak answered with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Rosevear hit Amar Pink on a 17-yard pass, and a personal foul on the Wildcats kept the drive going.
Rosevear had a 12-yard keeper to the Central 7, setting up his 6-yard TD run three plays later, knotting the score at 7-7.
The teams swapped punts the remainder of the first quarter, and Live Oak’s Colin Dickerson had an interception, but the ensuing drive ended in a punt.
“We’re getting turnovers and not doing anything with them, and everybody knows, when you’re getting turnovers and you can’t do anything with them, it’s going to catch up with you,” Beard said. “If we could ever just get to two scores to where we can weather momentum swings, where we can weather a big play and still feel comfortable being in a good spot, that’s where our goal is every week. We’re so close and then we kill a drive or we give up a big play in a critical situation. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing and wanting to play and loving to play and loving the opportunity and getting it done.”
The Eagle defense then stopped the Wildcats on downs at the Live Oak 8 but that drive also ended in a punt.
Darian Ricard came up with an interception to stop the next Central drive and returned it to the Central 23, leading to Cole Crenshaw’s 29-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Beard is hopeful the Eagles can turn things around heading into the postseason.
“We’ve really got to look at ourselves,” he said. “Are we just going to sit back and let it continue and let it be done in a week, or are we going to do our job and we’re going to ask these kids to do their job. We’re going to grind together and we’re going try to get that little spark, try to get going. All we’ve got to do is get clicking.”
Score By Quarters
Central 7 0 3 10 -- 20
Live Oak 7 3 0 0 -- 10
CHS – Sam Kennerson 1 run (Andrew Medine kick)
LOHS – Rhett Rosevear 6 run (Cole Crenshaw kick)
LOHS – Crenshaw 29 FG
CHS – Medine 22 FG
CHS – Jonathan Swift 5 run (Medine kick)
CHS – Medine 20 FG
First Downs 10 6
Rushes-Yards 43-199 30-86
Passing Yards 86 27
C-A-I 4-11-2 3-16-1
Punts-Avg. 4-28.75 7-37.4
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-90 3-20