By Brian Besch
Livingston football made the district champions’ work easy Friday, with penalties and turnovers leading to a 56-21 Lumberton win.
On the first play from scrimmage, Livingston threw an interception. It took seven plays for the Raiders to score, going up 7-0. It wouldn’t get much better from there.
The Raiders had 21 points before the Lions could run their fifth offensive play. When they did, Trenden Williams got the carry for 15 yards. The next play he went for five, and a third for 33 yards and a touchdown, to cut into the lead 21-7.
Lumberton scored through the air, on the ground, on special teams, and on defense. A 42-7 lead at the half made the final result obvious. They ran for 198 yards (175 in frst half) and threw for another 193.
“They are everything that is written up about them,” Livingston coach Finis Vanover said. “They are big, fast, strong, skilled and well-coached. They are disciplined, and if you battle with them close and make a mistake, they are going to capitalize on it.”
Livingston scored its final two touchdowns on a 58-yard run by Jaren James and a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Damorian Hill after a seven-play march.
“We missed six opportunities for big plays in the first half where we wanted to go after it and take some shots,” Vanover said. “We had them there and didn’t make the catches on some throws. We had some folks open and we were going to try to get them off of us until we found the right formation that we could run the ball out of.”
Deondre Johnson and Ja’tarius Randolph were able to pressure the quarterback at times. Both Jerren James and Williams had 94 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Lions were called for 11 penalties for 95 yards in the first half, and none in the second. Hill had trouble completing passes, going 2-for-11 for 52 yards and two interceptions. Both completions were to Tristen McCue.
There was nothing special about the Lion special teams, which gave away possessions on a fumbled kickoff return and punt return. The punt team surrendered a touchdown and failed to get a second punt off when snaps were not handled.
“That is as good as a high school defense that you are going to see anywhere. Those guys are going to be playing for a long time this season and in their future. They are loaded with talent. They are fun to coach against and they should be fun to play against if you’re a competitor. They booted us around the field most of the night and at most positions.
“We were our worst enemy and most times, we just flew both feet off with mistakes at the worst possible time. That goes along with the undefeated run that they are. They have won seven in a row because of the characteristics of their talents. We were no match for them tonight, but that is life.”
The Lions will have plenty to work on before the bi-district round of the playoffs next week. The Polk County Enterprise Facebook page will have the updated information on when and where that game is to be played as it becomes available.