WATSON -- Live Oak found a groove to pick up a scrimmage win over St. Louis Catholic, but to get there, the Eagles had to get past some early obstacles.
Live Oak had two touchdowns called back on penalties and had two interceptions on its first two possessions before picking up a 21-0 win over the Saints on Friday at Live Oak.
“We’ve just got to do a better job, clean up our mistakes,” Live Oak coach Blane Westmoreland said. “I know it’s a scrimmage, and that’s what these are for, but we’ve got to do a better job of not hurting ourselves.
“The positive is we’re able to come back and deal with a lot of adversity,” Westmoreland continued. “It was a different format (with two 15-minute halves), but we can’t start games like we did against good teams. We’re not going to be able to do it. We can’t dig ourselves a hole and be able to expect to compete with the guys we have to beat to achieve the goals that we want to achieve. We’ve got to start better. That’s going to start Monday and practicing a little bit faster and bringing a little bit more tempo and getting after it. We’ve got to do a better job in getting our guys ready and putting them in the right places.”
The Eagles’ troubles started on the opening kickoff, which Cade Getwood returned 85 yards for a touchdown that was nullified because of a holding penalty.
Three plays later, Marcus Duhon intercepted Tyler Graves. But on the next play, Live Oak’s Braden Robinson recovered a fumble.
Four plays later, TJ Magee scored on a 17-yard run, which was called back because of an illegal block. On the next play, Duhon intercepted Graves again.
The ensuing drive ended when Aiden Saunders sacked Luke Pierson on third down, forcing a punt.
“I thought the defense all around played amazing, especially for the first game of the season,” Saunders said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in pads against another team. I think everybody came out fired up, ready to play. We’ve been practicing hard, so I think it just showed off right there. I thought we were reading the keys well. Even when they were standing up and we couldn’t bring them down on the first hit, we were doing well hitting the ball and knocking it out and forcing some turnovers with the two fumbles.
“I think the defense just came out and dominated like we were supposed to,” Saunders continued.
With Sawyer Pruitt at quarterback, the Eagles drove to the St. Louis 48 before punting, but four plays later, CJ Davis intercepted James Reina and returned the ball to the St. Louis 29.
“We ran the perfect coverage for it,” Davis said of the interception. “We’ve got great coaches. Coach (Stephen) Prescott (Live Oak defensive coordinator) saw it happening. We called a … coverage where I’m sitting back in the coverage. He threw it, I chased the ball down and I got it. We needed it and we got a touchdown out of it.”
The turnover set up Lane Hilbun’s 29-yard touchdown run two plays later, and a PAT from Landon Ratcliff made the score 7-0 with 3:03 to play in the first half.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Live Oak’s Tyler Maher recovered a fumble at the Saints’ 41-yard line. The Eagles moved to the St. Louis 24, where Magee busted a touchdown run that was called back on a personal foul.
Graves found Chase Jones on a 13-yard pass to the St. Louis 30, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt by Ratcliff that was wide left with 24 seconds to play.
The Eagles forced a St. Louis punt on the first drive of the second half and went to work on their second scoring drive from their own 40 with Hilbun busting a 23-yard run and Bentz Borne an 18-yard run.
That set up a 15-yard run by Daylen Lee, who got into the end zone but lost the ball, which was recovered by Live Oak offensive lineman Jake Aldy for a touchdown.
“We were just blocking normally and I see the ball just (drop) out,” Aldy said. “I just jumped on it. I didn’t even know if I had it, to be honest, but I got a touchdown.”
“That kid just plays so hard,” Westmoreland said of Aldy. “He’s all over the field as an offensive lineman. He’s exactly what you want in an offensive lineman. He blocks downfield. He’s one heck of a ball player. Right place, right time for him.”
Ratcliff’s PAT pushed the lead to 14-0 with 11:50 left.
Live Oak forced another punt and took over at its own 40, where Magee busted a 15-yard run, and three plays later, Braden Jones hauled in a 38-yard screen pass from Graves for a touchdown. Ratcliff’s PAT pushed the lead to 21-0 with 8:28 to play.
The Eagles forced another punt and went on a clock-eating drive before St. Louis ran two plays to end the scrimmage.
“I’m happy with the team,” Davis said. “We kind of came out slow. It’s not the best game we played today. We’ve got places to improve on. We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got a lot to work on.”