SCOTT - If Acadiana's 'Wrecking Rams' thought they were going to have a cakewalk in their first-round matchup with No. 30 Live Oak, they were gravely mistaken.
The Eagles, it turned out, were no ordinary No. 30 seed.
Quite the contrary, in fact.
While other high seeds across the state were having routs in their first-round playoff games, it wasn't until Acadiana quarterback Keontae Willliams raced 28 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 to play that the Rams and their fans were finally able to breathe easy in their matchup with the Eagles.
Final score: Acadiana 22, Live Oak 7.
And it was that close. If not closer.
"We've had a rough year; we've had our ups and downs and a lot of injuries.....'" said Eagles' head coach Brett Beard, whose team ended its season 5-6. "It was just one of those crazy years. But our kids hung in there and the last few weeks, we've gotten healthier and started looking like ourselves again. And tonight, our kids fought hard for 48 minutes and that's all you ask of guys, who have committed to a program.
"This group of young men is special and they showed it tonight by coming into a hostile environment like this and giving these guys (Rams) everything they wanted."
That the Eagles did.
And no one would argue.
The four-time state champion Rams, the No. 3 team in the Class 5A playoffs, led only 16-7 at the half, due to running back Lucky Brooks popping off a 49-yard touchdown run with 2:13 to play in the second period.
Up until then, the explosive Rams offense was held to just 71 total yards by the Eagles, who were neither intimidated or overwhelmed by the hosts' reputation or their feared veer attack.
"Our kids will fight; that's what we teach them," said Beard. "No matter who you play or how good they are; you just execute the game plan at a high level and don't back down from anybody.
"You fight and take care of everybody and be a team. And that's what this team is and did."
Brooks, who rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries, had given Acadiana (10-1) an early lead with a 1-yard touchdown run following a short punt into a stiff wind. That gave the Rams a first down at the Eagles 38 and seven plays later they scored.
Deontae Williams' two-point conversion run made it 8-0 with 2:46 in the first quarter.
But two possessions later, the Eagles got a similar break, taking over at the Acadiana 40.
And they didn't disappoint.
Kee Hawkins, running over defenders for much of the drive, scored on a 5-yard run with 6:33 to play in the half and Cole Crenshaw's PAT made it 8-7.
With the score 16-7 to open the second half, the Eagles took over at their own 15 and marched all the way to the Rams 15. However they came up empty when the hosts stopped them three yards short of a first down and the Eagles' field goal attempt by Crenshaw into a brisk north wind sailed wide.
"It's a whole different ballgame (if that kick is good)," said Beard. "We had to try to cut it to one possession right there and that wind got us and that's just part of it."
The Eagles, who dropped a heart breaker to the Rams in their 2017 Cinderella run in the state playoffs, never threatened again.
Williams sealed the Rams' victory in the final minutes with his touchdown run, sending the Rams into the regional round of the playoffs, where they will travel to Denham Springs, a 17-14 winner over Sam Houston.
"We made a couple of mistakes," said Beard, who wanted to attack the Rams the same way the Eagles have come at everyone this season - straight ahead.
"That's who we are: we wanted to win the clock battle, we didn't want to turn over the ball over as much as we did, but we didn't start doing that until we got away from being who we are. We just made some critical mistakes like we have all year and when you play a good team it's hard to do that... and we did."
Hawkins, who has been injured much of the year, led the Eagles offensively with 77 rushing yards. Quarterback Sal Palermo added 56 yards and Hagan Long added 46 more.
"It was a hard loss," said Palermo, who also started at quarterback against the Rams in 2017. "A lot of us were close to those seniors last year and we wanted this one for them as much as us.
"Acadiana has a good team. We gave it all we had, it just wasn't enough."
LIVE OAK 7, ACADIANA 22
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Live Oak 0-7-0-0 - 7
Acadiana 8-8-0-6 - 22
AHS - Lucky Brooks 1 run. (Keontae Williams run)
LOHS - Kee Hawkins 5 run (Cole Crenshaw kick)
AHS - Brooks 49 run (Larrell Greene run)
AHS - Williams 28 run (Run failed)
10 First downs 10
180 Yards rushing 224
16 Yards passing 0
196 Total offense 224
13-2-1 Passes-A-C-HI 0-0-0
3-33.3 Punts/Avg. 1-17
2-1 Fumbles/lost 1-0
Penalties/yds 4-12 1-5
RUSHING: LOHS - Hawkins, 18-77-1; Long, 2-46-0; Palermo, 15-56-0; AHS - Monette 5-15-0; Brooks,14-89-2; Greene, 17-64-0; Williams 9-48-1.
PASSING: LOHS - Palermo, 13-2-16-1-0; AHS - NOne.
RECEIVING: LOHS - Long, 1-14-0; Rosevear, 1-2-0.