Two key turnovers and a final dagger were the deciding factors in a 14-6 Scotlandville (6-3) victory against Live Oak (3-6) on the Hornets’ home turf.
On one hand, Live Oak brought an army of runners into Scotlandville in an attempt to establish an early ground game. On the other, Scotlandville head coach Eric Randall put the ball in the hands of sophomore quarterback Levi Lewis often.
After Scotlandville held onto its opening possession for 4 minutes and was forced to punt, the Eagles appeared primed to drive the length of the field.
But the Hornets’ defense had an answer for a potent Live Oak ground game.
At first glance, the run was perfect. Eagles junior running back Jordan Jones took the handoff, made one cut, found a hole in his offensive line and sprinted 15 yards for the first down. As he neared the end of his stride, though, he was met by a Scotlandville defender, who proceeded to jar the football loose.
Scotlandville senior defensive back Martin Battiste responded immediately, locating the free ball, scooping it and rumbling 55 yards for the touchdown.
It would be the only score by either half after two quarters of play.
“I’m a little disappointed in our execution, but they played a major role in what we couldn’t do,” Randall said.
By halftime, Live Oak had five different rushers touch receive a carry, totaling 64 yards on 16 attempts.
It wasn’t until late in the third frame that the Eagles’ offense showed a sign of life.
The Live Oak defense pinned the home Hornets inside their own 10-yard line, forcing a punt that would surely put the Eagles in favorable field position. After a 30-yard punt and 10-yard return, the Eagles found themselves 30 yards from a potential game-tying score.
Junior fullback Kyle Knapps proceeded to give Live Oak a much-needed boost. After driving inside the red zone, Eagles senior quarterback Michael Claverie found Knapps wide open on the left side of the offensive line, and he scored with ease to put his squad within one point.
After a failed two-point rushing attempt, Scotlandville held on to a slim 7-6 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Live Oak’s offense threatened again with 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but it was the Hornets’ defense that would buzz to the football when it mattered most.
After scrambling to his left, Claverie fired down the field and into the arms of a diving Tyrell Henderson, Scotlandville’s senior cornerback.
Lewis ended any hope of a Live Oak comeback on the proceeding drive, firing a missile to senior wideout Kaleb Harmon for a 75-yard touchdown.
“I think if we don’t score there, they get the ball back and move the ball down the field, and they wouldn’t be in a rush. It was very big,” Robb said.
“I thought Harmon ran an excellent route, and Levi finally connected with some of these receivers tonight.”
Live Oak head coach Barry Musemeche said Friday night’s loss wasn’t an overly-discouraging defeat.
“When you give up one offensive touchdown to Scotlandville, you played a pretty good game,” Musemeche said. “Give them credit, our guys are fighters. We’re going to come back … but we’re disappointed, no doubt.”