WATSON — Live Oak senior running backs Kee Hawkins and Hagen Long scored two rushing touchdowns each and combined for 228 yards to power the Eagles to a convincing 35-14 win over Ponchatoula here Friday night.
Hawkins scored twice on 1-yard runs in the first half and finished with 90 yards on 27 carries. Long scored on runs of 31 and 56 yards in the second half and finished with 138 yards on 16 carries.
Live Oak’s defense also held down Ponchatoula quarterback TJ Finley, an LSU football commitment. Finley was sacked three times and completed just 10 of 28 passes for 121 yards with two second-half interceptions. Ponchatoula had just five yards rushing on 11 carries.
“We couldn’t block Live Oak’s defensive line,” Ponchatoula coach Hank Tierney said. “We have to be able to run the ball for our offense to be successful and we could not run the ball. Live Oak had a great plan and took over the game in the second half. We couldn’t stop their run either.”
Ponchatoula (0-1) led 14-7 in the second quarter. Live Oak (1-0) went on a 28-0 run from there.
Live Oak’s Reid Broussard recovered an onside kick at the midpoint of the third quarter to help put the Eagles in control. Live Oak led 21-14 at the time and scored two plays later on Long’s 31-yard run up the middle to make it a 28-14 game.
“We tried to create some momentum and excitement with the onside kick and it worked,” Live Oak coach Brett Beard said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our offense. Our offensive line showed up and played. We had long drives and ate the clock.
“Finley is a big time player. We knew we had to get to him and rattle him to make him uncomfortable. These kids are learning. You couldn’t ask for a better team victory and start to the 2019 season.”
Live Oak drove 82 yards in 16 plays in the first possession of the game. Hawkins capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run.
Ponchatoula forced the Eagles to punt in their next possession, and Elijah Woods scored on a 76-yard punt return to tie the score at 7-7 with :10 remaining in the first quarter.
Ponchatoula came back with a six-play, 41-yard drive. Finley tossed a 27-yard TD pass to Braydon Johnson down the left sideline for a 14-7 lead with 8:27 remaining in the second quarter.
Ponchatoula’s Winters had two interceptions in the first half.
Live Oak tied it at 14-14 on a 1-yard run by Hawkins with 1:18 remaining in the half.
Live Oak’s Gabe Kimble sacked Finley on Ponchatoula’s first series in the third quarter to force a punt. The Eagles then drove 53 yards in eight plays. Rhett Rosevear tossed a 25-yard scoring pass to Trenton O’Quin for a 21-14 lead with 5:52 remaining.
Live Oak then executed the onside kick.
Live Oak’s Darian Ricard and Branson McCoy had second-half interceptions. Senior defensive back Kade Lane deflected several passes and was aggressive.
Live Oak’s last score covered 64 yards in three plays. Long ran 56 yards up the middle with 7:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Amir Pink caught five passes for 59 yards for the Eagles.