EA’s opening drive sets tone against Live Oak
East Ascension used a Live Oak penalty to keep it opening possession alive and overcame another that negated a score to set the tone in a 19-0 victory in the opening jamboree game of the LeBlanc Food Stores Ascension – Livingston Challenge at Spartan Stadium Thursday evening.
“I think it was important for us to score early,” East Ascension head coach John Lambert said. “We didn’t feel like we played very well in the scrimmage and wanted to open the game with momentum. When they deferred and they gave us the ball we really wanted to come out and just have something positive out of the gate. That fact that we scored, it was called back and we scored again, that just in our kids’ minds gave us momentum.”
Running out of a no-huddle, East Ascension drove 74 yards in 11 plays to open the contest capped by Avery Williams’ 21-yard run off left tackle with 10:30 left in the first half. A pass interference call against Live Oak on third down kept the drive alive and the Spartans overcame a holding penalty on Marcus Bailey’s 35-yard touchdown run to score. Brandon Ruiz’s kick gave the Spartans a 7-0 lead.
“We want to be no huddle,” Lambert said. “If we can find a defense that we can get tired, we are going to try and use that to our advantage. We don’t have a whole lot of depth but it allows us to be in a two-minute offense all the time or slow down.”
Live Oak only threat to score came just before half as the Eagles drove 70 yards in 11 plays to the EA 10 before time expired.
“We just made a couple of mistakes and ran out of time a little bit,” Live Oak head coach Paul Beebe said. “We moved the ball OK most of the night. We can take some good things from this.”
Two possessions earlier, Donald Scott intercepted Live Oak quarterback David Bell at the Eagle 35 but the Spartans could not capitalize.
Louis Crowson’s 13-yard run kick started the Eagles next possession and Bell connected with Seth Kuhlmann for 22 and 26 yards before throwing incomplete on his next three passes as Scott and Blake Hill broke up passes in the end zone to preserve the Spartan’s lead.
“I think our kids kind of got a little worn down,” Lambert said. “I got to keep the defense off the field. Our offense has to mature to do that. My hat goes off to our defense. Coach (Jason) Brown, my defensive coordinator just does an unbelievable job with those boys.”
East Ascension held Live Oak for negative yards on the opening possession of the second half and on the first play of the ensuing possession Bailey broke free around left end for a 50-yard scoring run. Ruiz’s kick was wide right leaving the score 13-0 with 13:12 left to play.
“What we really wanted to work on tonight - what we thought was the most important thing for us was making sure that we came off the football,” Lambert said. “We thought last week our offensive line could have done a better job. We really thought we came off the ball well tonight.”
Six possessions later, Bell’s fumbled pitch was recovered by Jake Conorely at the Live Oak 9 and a play later Williams hit pay dirt off left tackle. Quarterback Adam Trahan’s pass fell incomplete on the conversion to leave the score 20-0 with 1:23 left to play.
“We put the defense in a bad spot at the end trying to make a play and we just don’t execute,” Beebe said. “You have to execute when you have the chance and when the defense gets in a bad spot they have to beau up. You can’t let them score on one play. Next week it starts to count and that is the important part. It is early in the season and the speed of the game is different when you play somebody else.”
The Spartans rushed for 150 yards on 19 carries. Bailey finished with 93 yards on eight totes and Williams provided 37 yards on six rushes. Trahan added 20 yards on five carries.
“A big part of it is the offensive line but we have a great combination in a power back and a speed back and the good part of that is that Avery also has speed and Marcus also has power,” Lambert said. “We can give you a look both ways.”
Bell completed 4-of-17 passes for 65 yards and led the Eagles with 34 yards on the ground on seven carries.
Trahan was 5 for 8 passing with two completions to Bailey for 10 yards, two to Randell Williams for 9 yards and one to Jamie Williams for 8 yards.
East Ascension regular season opener at Spartan Stadium against Redemptorist Friday night was canceled due to Hurricane Gustav.