WATSON - Live Oak continued to back up its preseason billing with dominating play, this time in a 35-0 victory over West Feliciana.
The No. 8 Eagles gained a lead on their second drive of the game and never looked back, playing efficient offense and suffocating defense en route to a shutout.
Running back Kee Hawkins continued to rack up stellar numbers, rushing 14 times for 174 yards and a touchdown, most of which came off his 85-yard strike early in the first quarter.
“He’s a bull,” Live Oak coach Brett Beard said. “He’s a guy we have to ride and get going early. We waited a little bit last week against Mandeville to get him going. He’s a guy we really want to focus on and got to focus on."
Hawkins is just one of the big four offensive threats for Live Oak, as quarterback Sal Palermo connected often with receiver Grant Richardson while Hagen Long spelled Hawkins, rushing 16 times for 105 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Live Oak (3-0) finished with 487 yards total, including 354 on the ground.
The Eagle defense held firm once again, recording a shutout and holding the Saints to just 160 yards.
“I love the way our defense played tonight,” Beard said. “I thought they were physical and did a better job against the pass. Just assignment, good disciplined, defensive football. I’m proud to see that this week.”
“It’s always great to get a shutout,” Live Oak defensive back and McNeese commit Eli Johnson said. “We work hard for it all the time… it’s a big motivator for the program to get a shutout against a pretty good team.”
Live Oak gashed West Feliciana immediately on its second drive to take an early lead. Hawkins took the handoff on a power and ran the tightrope for 85 yards down the sidelineand just out of grasp of several Saints defenders.
“The defender gave me a perfect angle to stiff arm him” Hawkins said. “It’s hard to describe the angle, but he just came down and I knew I had it. When the safety came behind me and I pushed off him, it helped me create more space and I was gone.”
“We usually have to have something good happen,” Beard said. “When something good happens, it gives us that fire and that energy, we tend to crank it up.”
“It helped us start to get going,” he said.
On their next drive, the Eagles used a 36-yard pass from Palermo to Rhett Rosevear and a 16-yard run by Hawkins, coupled with a facemask penalty tacked on, to set up a two-yard plunge from backup Long to put Live Oak up 14-0.
Later in the second quarter, Palermo connected with Richardson twice, once on a 32-yard pass and for a three-yard goal line fade to Richardson, who climbed the ladder, placing two feet in the end zone to make it 21-0.
Live Oak controlled the ball on its first drive of the second half, converting five times on third down. Palermo ended a 16-play, 89-yard drive - that took a staggering 8:02 off the clock - with a 22-yard pass to a wide-open Richardson.
“We’re a program that still thrives off of running the football and trying to control the clock,” Beard said. “Win the line of scrimmage, win the box, we’re a football team that has to play great defense to win the clock battle. So anytime you come out and sustain a drive for seven or eight minutes, that’s a huge victory for us.”
“It was big,” Hawkins said. “We knew if we took off a lot of time, it would make it harder for them to come back and it would allow our starters on defense more time to rest and get comfortable and come back on and play fresh.”
Richardson ended his night with three catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
“He had a Grant Richardson night,” Beard said. “The kid is a very crisp route runner, he has amazing hands, he just has a knack for football. He’s not scared to go up and make plays. He’s that guy where if we get him out in space and let him go make something happen, most of the time he’s going to make something happen.”
A 34-yard run from Long put the Eagles inside the red zone in their next drive, where they scored on a five-yard keeper to extend their lead to the final 35-0.
Live Oak opens District 4-5A play next week in blockbuster road game against defending district and Class 5A state champion Zachary.
“We’re on the track now,” Beard said. “We’re playing good ball now. We’re going to come out and see what we’re made of against Zachary.”
LIVE OAK 35, WEST FELICIANA 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WF - 0 0 0 0 0
LO - 7 14 14 0 35
LO: Kee Hawkins 85 run (Collin Crenshaw kick)
LO: Hagen Long 2 run (Crenshaw kick)
LO: Sal Palermo 32 pass to Grant Richardson (Crenshaw kick)
LO: Palermo 22 pass to Richardson (Crenshaw kick)
LO: Palermo 5 run (Crenshaw kick)
6 First Downs 11
31 – 105 Rushes – Yards 42 – 354
55 Passing Yards 133
6 – 14 – 1 Comp – Att – Int 6 – 12 – 0
6 – 38 Punts – AVG 3 - 31
2 Fumbles Lost 0
2 – 18 Penalties – Yards 5 - 10