FINAL TUNEUP: Spartans, Williams triumph over Live Oak
East Ascension quickly answered a late touchdown by Live Oak to take a 14-8 victory in the first game of LeBlanc Food Stores’ Ascension - Livingston Challenge Jamboree Friday evening at Spartan Stadium.
“In a game where at the end you still will be 0-0, you want as many situations to test you as you can get,” East Ascension head coach John Lambert said. “We had to play to win and we had to drive to win. Right there on that last drive, the kids showed a lot of heart. Our kids were just excited to play.”
“We have to sell our kids on the veer. Now we can go back and show them this stuff works. They are going to stone wall us some because teams figure it out but you have to make adjustments. We had some success early and then I think our kids relaxed a little bit.”
Avery Williams rushed for 94 yards on just six carries scoring both touchdowns for the Spartans, who move from a spread scheme used the past two years.
“We came out nervous for some reason and couldn’t get anything going,” Live Oak head coach Robbie Mahfouz said. “Once we settled down, we moved the ball well in the second half. We played the whole first half on that end of the field and couldn’t get anything going. We missed a couple of tackles and that is how they got their touchdowns. Otherwise we played fairly well on defense.”
Williams capped the opening 4-play possession with a 58-yard gallop off left tackle breaking several tackles before beating Eagle defenders to the goal line. Matthew Stafford’s kick put East Ascension ahead 7-0 with 9:47 left to play in the half.
Both teams were forced into four-and-outs on their next possession. Live Oak picked up a first down on the next but fell short on third-and-15 as the Spartans stiffened.
East Ascension drove as far as their own 42 on the ensuing possession behind quarterback Emerson Foster’s 12-yard completion to Ryan Avril but penalties sent them backwards.
The Spartans defense held Live Oak to another four-and-out to open the second 12-minute half but East Ascension returned the ball four plays later.
Live Oak capped the ensuing 9-play, 81-yard drive when David Bell connected with Alex Switzer for a 24-yard scoring strike with 4:56 left remaining. They hooked up again on the conversion to go ahead 8-7. A pass interference call gave the Eagles a first down at their own 45 before Stephen Prescott’s 8-yard catch pushed the Eagles across midfield for the first time. Bell then connected with Blake Viator for 14 yards before Tyler McGrew carried for 9.
“They found some holes in the zone,” Lambert said. “You just hope your kids are resilient enough to respond and they did.”
Williams dove for pay dirt on a 26-yard run after breaking several tackles off left end to cap the next 7-play, 65-yard drive for the deciding points. Justin Pelle` had a 16-yard run on the drive and Foster added 9-yarder.
Live Oak drove to the Spartan 23 on the final possession before the horn blew. Bell connected twice with both Switzer and McGrew on the 9-play drive from their own 37.
East Ascension opens regular season play Friday night against Sarah Reed at Spartan Stadium.