By Brian Besch
It was close on so many occasions and there for the taking. Yet, Livingston football made the long trip back from Little Cypress-Mauriceville without the win Friday, falling 18-13.
Defense and missed opportunities on the offensive end were the stories of the night, especially for Livingston. Little Cypress-Mauriceville went into the half with a 12-0 lead on a 59-yard touchdown pass, and a four-play drive from good field position at the Lion 41.
Livingston (1-1, 1-6) missed the chance to put points on the board in the first half after fumbling on the LC-M 7-yard line. Later, driving down the field in less than two minutes, they would complete a pass to the Bear 5-yard line as time ran out for the band break.
After forcing a turnover on downs on the first drive of the second half, the Lion offense marched seven plays and 73 yards in just over four minutes. The drive was capped by a Copeland Bush run from his fullback position, cutting the lead to 12-7.
“Physical, we played fast, and we blew our chances in the first half – where we left 18 points on the field minimum. We knew they had some very simple flaws in their defense that we were going to try to take advantage of,” Livingston coach Finis Vanover said. “We held them to 12 points at halftime, and with that talent and those weapons and the big offensive line, (it was an accomplishment).
“We had to figure them out on defense. Their defensive front was winning the battles about 70% of the time on us in the first half. We knew we had to simplify it, and we moved the tight end out a little bit to make them change, and we started hitting it and gashing them and running like we have been doing. Some of the long runs we had were pass plays that were called and they were bailing out trying to help cover. Money (Lion quarterback Damorian Hill) finally found the switch and got to running a little bit.”
Little Cypress-Mauriceville (4-3, 2-0) would answer five plays later, as Bear signal caller Dylan Payne tossed another touchdown strike, this time 21 yards, extending the advantage out to 18-7.
On their final possession, Livingston drove 91 yards in just seven plays. Trenden Williams (17-120, TD) broke loose for 42 yards, outrunning the defense to the end zone. A two-point conversion was not successful, and the Bears clung to an 18-13 advantage.
On the final drive of the game, Livingston backed Little Cypress up to a third-and-17, where Payne again delivered. A 20-yard completion down the sideline gave the team a first down. Two plays later on second-and-19, a swing pass to tailback Jonah Fuller converted another long down and distance to seal it.
“They hit a couple of huge plays on our nemesis – the third-and-17 and third-and-27 and fourth-and-10 and second-and-19,” Vanover said. “We gave up too many big plays and made too many of our own that didn’t count and were called back. The effort was total and complete, and we never stopped. At three minutes left, we have a chance to win, five points down and playing for undefeated. We didn’t make it and they did.”
Perhaps lost in the game was the play of the Lion defense. They held Little Cypress-Mauriceville to 150 total yards at the half and 280 for the game. A few long down-and-distance conversions marred what was otherwise their best performance of the year.
Missed opportunities for the offense limited the team to just 13 points when more was available. The fumble near the goal line, as well as seven turnovers on downs will bring regret during film sessions. Williams eclipsed the century mark again and Hill ran for over 70 yards. The team collected 282 yards on the ground. Livingston was much better throwing the football than they have been all season. The 153 yards passing between Hill and Tyler Soza were all from the first half.
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