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Archives 12-07-2005


Sports

LA defeats Lipscomb 28-13 in BlueCross Bowl
Through good and bad, Cats believed
LA basketball teams take district wins


LA defeats Lipscomb 28-13 in BlueCross Bowl

Dewain E. Peek/OCN Sports
Fullback Jake Reeder takes off on a run for the Wildcats.

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN Sports
Forgive the grammar, but this ain't no Cinderella story -  Rodney Dangerfield maybe, but not Cinderella.

The Livingston Academy Wildcats played the David Lipscomb Mustangs for the TSSAA Class 3A State Championship in the BlueCross Bowl at Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, Dec. 3, and won 28-13.

No fluke. No fairy godmother. Just excellence in execution.

After Livingston Academy won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half, LA's Jonathan McGill kicked off the game at noon with a 50 yard boot to the Lipscomb 10, and Kevin Davis returned the ball 17 yards to the 27. After Matt Elrod and Kevin Davis short yardage runs and an incomplete pass, Lipscomb's Ben Lehning kicked a 36 yard punt that was downed at the LA 35.

An off-sides call against the Mustangs moved the ball up to the 40, where Wildcats quarterback Wilson Cates decided to keep the ball and ran for 9 yards and a 1st down. Then, Cates avoided a tackle and threw a 26-yard pass toward Tyler Livingston, who came back to the ball for a 1st down reception at the Lipscomb 25.

After a Jake Reeder carry for no gain, Jamey Vaughn took the option for 14 yards to the Lipscomb 11. Reeder and Cates moved the ball to the 6 on successive carries, then Cates tossed a touchdown pass to Jake Peterman for the first score of the game. Jonathan McGill added the extra point and the Wildcats led 7-0.

McGill boomed another 50-yard kickoff to the Lipscomb 10, and Blake Neelley returned it 15 yards to the 25.

Elrod and quarterback Clay Smith moved the ball forward to the 31, then Elrod broke loose for a 22 yard gain. He then took off on a 12 yard run, and the Mustangs were in business at the LA 35.

Davis pushed ahead for 8 yards, and Elrod got the 1st down at the LA 25.

The Livingston Academy defense then took a stand. Cody Shokoui dropped Smith for a 1-yard loss, Levi Holt stopped Davis on a 2-run gain, before Neelley caught a pass at the LA 18, bringing up 4th and 3.

Jake Peterman and Wilson Cates stopped Smith at the 16, a yard shy of the 1st down marker.

On the first play from scrimmage, Cates kept the ball and ran 15 yards. Reeder and Cates combined for another 1st down at the 42. Then Reeder followed his blockers and burst through on a 19-yard run to the Lipscomb 39. The fullback then carried the ball 3 more yards to the 36, and the first quarter ended.

LA opened the second quarter with Cates throwing a long pass in Levi Holt's direction. The pass was tipped by Blake Neelley, but Holt kept his eyes on the ball and pulled it in for a 33 yard gain to the 3. Vaughn took it in the rest of the way on the next play and McGill's kick was good. LA led 14-0.

McGill kicked off 43 yards to the Lipscomb 17, where Davis caught the ball and returned 18 yards to the 35.

Quarterback Smith was stopped at the line of scrimmage on the Mustangs' first play, then Davis rushed for 7 yards, but a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Lipscomb moved the ball back to the 27 and lost a down for the Mustangs. A substitution penalty then pushed the purple and gold team back to the 22.

Jamey Vaughn then popped Smith for an 8-yard loss.

Lehning punted 32 yards to give the Cats the ball at the Lipscomb 46.

Cates took off for 12 yards on the quarterback keeper, then the offensive line opened a hole that Reeder sprinted through for 30 yards and a 1st and goal at the 4 yard line.

After LA took a time-out, Cates optioned to Vaughn, who twisted from the grasp of Stewart Gott and past Elrod for a touchdown. McGill's kick was good and the Cats led 21-0.

McGill kicked off 44 yards to the Lipscomb 16, and Davis returned 13 yards to the 29.

Elrod caught a 9-yard pass and then rushed for 2 yards for a Lipscomb 1st down. Then Davis moved the ball to the 48 on an 8-yard run.

Smith passed to Neelley at the 37, where Neelley's lead foot was out of bounds, but was called in. On the next play, Smith passed 37 yards to Ford Hillin for a touchdown. The Jason Hull extra point kick was good and the Mustangs narrowed the lead to 7-21.

Hull kicked off 36 yards to the Wildcats, who took over at their own 24.

A Reeder short run was followed by a Vaughn 18-yard option sprint. Vaughn then took the ball to the Lipscomb 46 on an 11-yard run for a 1st down.

After Reeder failed to move the ball on 1st down, he broke through, following his blockers for 15 yards and moving the chains to the 31.

Vaughn carried the ball for no gain, and LA was flagged for holding, moving the ball back to the 41.

Cates faked to Mike Jones-LaRue, then kept the ball for a 15-yard run to the 26. After a short Cates run and an incomplete pass toward Holt that was broken up by Neelley, LA took another time-out before the 4th and 4 play.

Cates ran the ball for 3 yards, just short, and turned the ball over to the Mustangs at the 22 with 1:19 left in the half.

Elrod ran for 4 yards, then Smith was dropped for a 1-yard loss by Dustin Looper, who held on long enough for Vaughn and Peterman to finish him off.

A Smith pass toward Neelley was too high, and the half ended.

For the second half, Livingston Academy chose to go into the wind for the third quarter, which would put them with the wind to their back in the fourth quarter.

Cates returned the 73-yard Hull kick 16 yards to the 19, but a block in the back penalty cost LA 9 yards.

Reeder ran for 5 yards, then Cates rushed for 11 and the 1st down. A pass to Peterman was caught out of bounds, then Vaughn ran free for 24 yards to mid-field.

Then the Cats set about eating up the clock.

Cates carried for 5 yards, Reeder ran for 4, then Vaughn took it for 2 and another 1st down at the Lipscomb 39.

Cates carried for 4 yards, Reeder for 3, and Cates again for 6 yards and a 1st down at the 26.

Reeder managed 2 yards, Vaughn was held to nothing, and Cates slipped on the rain-soaked turf for a 5-yard loss to bring up 4th and 13. Then Braden Binkley stepped in front of a pass intended for Peterman, but failed to catch it cleanly. The drive was over, but 7 minutes and 35 seconds had been taken off the clock.

od 5-yard run, and a Davis 3-yard carry, Elrod plowed through on a 44-yard run to the Livingston Academy 19, where he was caught from behind by Peterman.

Smith kept the ball for 7 yards, and Elrod went 6 for a 1st down at the 6. Smith moved the ball to the 3, then Elrod went in for the touchdown. Hull's point-after try failed, but the LA lead was cut to 8 at 21-13.

Hull kicked off 46 yards to the LA 14, where Cates took the ball and returned 18 yards to the 32. Cates carried the ball twice for only 3 yards before the quarter ended.

Vaughn rushed for 6 yards to open the fourth quarter, but a yard short of the 1st down.

With the wind to his back, Cates punted high and the ball landed initially at the 25 but bounced and rolled downfield. Drew Cannon and Joe Reynolds got in front of the ball and let it roll to the 1 yard line before Reynolds touched it down.

With 11:05 remaining, Lipscomb started a drive that ate up almost 6 minutes.

A pass to Hillin looked more like a pass to LA's Peterman, and Hillin was flagged for offensive interference. Running out of his own endzone, Elrod then crashed through for 22 yards.

A Davis run of 7 yards and two 2-yard Elrod rushes gave the Mustangs another 1st down at the 34.

A quarterback keeper for 7 more yards gave the appearance that the Mustangs were on the move, but John Michael Stephens and Jake Reeder stuffed Davis on the next play, and Stephens and Levi Holt held Davis to a single yard on the next.

Facing a 4th down play, David Lipscomb took a time-out.

Elrod went up the middle for 3 yards and the 1st down at the 45, then carried another 2 yards.

Cates just missed intercepting a pass intended for Hillin, and the heart of the LA defensive line Preece dropped Elrod for a loss at the 46.

Facing 4th and 9, the Mustangs took their second time-out of the half.

With Ryan Bowman bearing down on him, Smith attempted a pass to Lehning, but it fell short and the Cats took over at the Lipscomb 46.

The Wildcats just needed to kill 5 minutes and 22 seconds to end the season as winners.

Jake Reeder ripped off 20 yards up the middle, then he slowed down to a yard gain on the following 1st down run.

Cates carried for 4 yards and then for 2 yards to bring up a 4th and 3 at the 19.

LA took a time-out with 2:52 left in the game, then took another time-out.

Cates looked to give the ball away, spun around, and then ran for 7 yards and a 1st down at the 12.

The LA offensive line again broke open a hole for Reeder, who ran up the middle for 6 yards. Two Vaughn runs set up a 1-yard Cates touchdown run behind the offensive line's push. McGill was perfect on the day with his fourth point-after kick.

Livingston Academy led David Lipscomb 28-13 with 25 seconds left in the game.

McGill boomed a 51 yard kickoff to the Lipscomb 9, and Davis returned it 18 yards to the 27.

The Wildcats took their final time-out.

Peterman batted away a pass to Neelley.

LA Wildcats Coach Matt Eldridge received a Gatorade shower, causing play to cease until the ice from the barrel was sufficiently swept from the field.

A pass to Elrod moved the Mustangs 8 yards to the 35 with 3 seconds left in the season.

A "Hail Mary" pass failed to find a receiver, and the Mustangs became Class 3A's last loser.

Livingston Academy is the first number 4 team to win a state championship in football, ever, in any classification.

The 5-5 regular season record brought about "Cinderella" references, but the Cats finished last year in the state quarterfi-nals with an 11-2 record and wrapped up this year at 10-5.

They got no respect, but they got the gold trophy.

Wilson Cates was named the BlueCross Bowl Offensive MVP, and David Lipscomb's Braden Binkley was named the Defensive MVP, leading the Mustangs with 14 tackles, 2 assists, and a pass break-up.

Cates led LA in tackles with 8 and 3 assists. Peterman had 4 tackles and 4 assists, Vaughn had 2 tackles and 5 assists, John Michael Stephens had 2 tackles and 4 assists, as did Reeder, Dustin Looper had 2 tackles and 2 assists, Levi Holt had 2 tackles and an assist, Jonathan Preece had a tackle and 2 assists, as did Curtis Beaty, Wade Ford had 2 tackles, Ryan Bowman had 2 assists, Cody Shokoui had a tackle, and Joe Reynolds had an assist.

Offensively, Matt Elrod led David Lipscomb with 135 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Jake Reeder led LA in rushing with 116 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry, Cates had 108 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.4 per carry, and Vaughn had 87 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 7.2 per carry.

Cates threw for 65 yards on 3 completed passes. Levi Holt caught a pass for 33 yards, Tyler Livingston caught a pass for 26, and Jake Peterman caught a 6-yard touchdown pass.

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Through good and bad, Cats believed

Dewain E. Peek/ OCN Sports
Livingston Academy blockers open a path for quarterback Wilson Cates in the Wildcats' state championship win over David Lipscomb in the BlueCross Bowl last Saturday.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
At 9-5, the Livingston Academy Wildcats did not bring the most impressive record to the state football championships in Murfreesboro this past weekend, but they had a couple things that would leave a lasting impression: (1) quarterback Wilson Cates; (2) a team determination that was second to none.

As one opposing coach flatly stated during the playoffs, "Livingston doesn't really impress you on paper, but be assured they will physically wear you down, beat you up, and then Cates will stab you right through the heart."

When the regular season got underway back in late August, the Wildcats looked like a team that could easily go 10-0. With 15 seniors returning from a team that went 11-2 last year and to the third round of the playoffs, Livingston Academy appeared poised to finally put the small mid-state town on the football map.

Coach Matt Eldridge pointed out, "Just looking at this team back in the early stages of the season, we were pretty sure we would have a good season. These kids have been playing together since grade school, and after setting several records and tying for the region title last year with Smith County, we were eager to see just how far we would go this year."

A few things changed over the winter that could have had a bearing on the 2005 season. One was that Livingston Academy, which had played and played well in Region 4-3A, was moved to Region 2-3A. This put the Wildcats in a brand new league with powerhouse teams such as Knoxville Catholic, Knoxville Austin-East, and Knoxville Fulton.

"We are a small town with a great fan following, but we hadn't played big city schools like the teams from Knoxville, and our coaching staff knew we had to approach the game differently than we had in the past four years," Eldridge said. "For the main part, the schools from the bigger cities have bigger coaching staffs and much quicker and bigger players."

But it wasn't the bigger schools that got the season off on the wrong foot for the Wildcats. The first game was played on the road at single A power Trousdale County, and although Livingston dominated the game from start to finish, two costly mistakes led to a 12-14 defeat.

Rebounding well, the Wildcats topped region foe Kingston 33-18 the following week, and whipped non-league opponent Station Camp 35-14 to go 2-1 after three games.

Then in their first big region game, Livingston travelled to Knoxville to take on powerful Catholic. The game stayed close throughout, but in the end, a field goal that almost didn't make it, but did, proved to be the difference in a 21-24 setback.

Lineman Wade Ford pointed out, "I think that game showed us that we could play with anybody. We had heard how good they were, and they were good, but with a break here or there, we actually could have won that game."

For the remainder of the regular season, Livingston Academy went up and down. After defeating rival York Institute 28-13, the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Austin-East 21-28 at home. The Cats came back the following week to upend Scott County 26-21, then defeated Anderson County 29-28 on a cold, rainy night.

Then the Cats hit a 2-game skid that saw them drop the final 2 games of the regular season, 21-26 to Smith County and 7-18 to Fulton.

When the regular season was over, Livingston stood at 5-5, but 3 of the wins came within the region, thus earning the Wildcats the number 4 seed for Region 2-3A.

The team's offensive star, Wilson Cates, stated, "Naturally, we wanted to win it all, but since we didn't, all that mattered was that we make the playoffs to get a second chance.

"Going into the playoffs, we felt like we were getting better as a team, and now it was time to put things together. We all knew that a loss from here on out meant the end of the season, and the team, especially the seniors, weren't ready to start playing basketball."

For the next three Friday nights, the Wildcats had to travel to Knoxville. It was there that the team gelled, first defeating Carter 27-24, then going to Austin-East to come away with an 18-15 victory, then back to Catholic to try and avenge the earlier 3-point loss.

The 24-20 win raised some eyebrows around the state, and it also brought the Wildcats back home for the final time this season. It was game 14 of the season and the victor of the Livingston-Notre Dame game would go to the state championship game in Murfreesboro.

Before a packed house of more than 4,000 in Livingston on Friday night, Nov. 25, Cates and his teammates came back from a 20-31 deficit late in the third quarter to post a 48-34 win.

Late in the third frame, Cates rambled 22 yards for a score, and Jamey Vaughn added the 2-point conversion to pull Livingston to within 3 at 28-31. Notre Dame then added a field goal of 38 yards to spread the margin to 6 at 28-34. At that point, Cates pulled out his dagger and plunged it right into the heart of the Fighting Irish.

With 7 minutes remaining in the game, the elusive quarterback heaved a 41-yard touchdown strike to Jake Peterman, then two plays later, intercepted a Notre Dame pass and returned it 55 yards to put the Wildcats on top 42-34. Cates ran in the 2-point conversion.

After an Irish fumble on the next series, Cates recovered the loose ball. Then on 4th and 1 with 4:31 left in the game, Cates ripped off 36 yards on a picture perfect run around his right end to seal the victory.

Cates came into the championship game averaging 110 yards per game rushing and another 63 through the air. On defense, he was second only to Vaughn in individual tackles with 135 on the season. He led the team in kickoff returns, punt returns, punting, all purpose yards (2,245 on the season to that point), scoring (112 points on 18 touchdowns and 2 conversion runs), and also in team fumbles with 12.

Vaughn was second to Cates in most categories with 1,188 all purpose yards, 14 touchdown and 3 conversions before Saturday's game, and led the team in tackles with a school record 144 for the season.

Coach Eldridge said, "Just to look at the numbers, it looks like all Cates and Vaughn, but we have a well-rounded, unselfish team that plays just as hard as Wilson. Our defensive line with Ford, Jacob Coffee, Beau Massengale, and Curtis Beaty gets the job done up front, and Jake Reeder does a good job for us, both in running the ball and on defense.

"On offense, Cates naturally is our leader, but his line deserves a lot of credit. Some of our players play both ways, but our center, Robert Holt, does a fine job, as does Levi Holt, Ryan Bowman, Ryan Duke, John Stephens, Cody Shokoui, and Jonathan Preece - all get in there and contribute."

Cates said before the state championship game, "I guess because I get the ball on every snap, I get more chances to do something with it, but it's the play of every player on that field that makes it all happen.

"We win together and we lose together, and we're here in the state championship game together. It's what we've all dreamed about for a long time. We will do our best, and we won't leave anything on the field.

"We are Livingston Academy football and we're proud of that."

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LA basketball teams take district wins

Leah Thomas/OCN Sports
Ashley Matthews brings the ball around for the Lady Wildcats in last Tuesday's game against the Lady Cavaliers.

By MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports
Despite a win and a loss earlier in the week, the Livingston Academy girls basketball team wanted to play at a higher level against Macon County on Friday night, Dec. 2. And the boys team wanted to play at almost any level as long as it would produce a victory.

Both teams achieved their goals as the Lady Wildcats and the Wildcats opened region 7-AA action on their home court and both came away with victories.

Haley Mullins pointed out after Friday's game, “We won at Clay County, but we didn't play a complete game, especially on defense. Tonight we wanted to win of course, but we also wanted to play much better.

“After Cookeville beat us, we knew we had a lot of work to do and we buckled down and did it.”

The previous night in Celina, the Lady Cats jumped out to an 8-0 lead early in the game, but a poor offensive showing in the third period, where they only netted 9 points, almost led to disaster.

Celina trailed by 13 at the end of the first frame and were down by 20 at the half. Then in the third period, the Lady Cats went flat while Celina poured in 20 points and held the visitors to a mere 9.

With Mullins hitting for 17 and Alison West doing the same, the Lady Cats managed to hang on for a 65-59 victory.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, LA took to the hardwood at Cookeville and fell 48-60.

West said, “That was not a good night for us. If Ashley (Matthews) hadn't hit for 22, it would have really been bad. But I think we found out that we had to get more intense, play more aggressive and be much, much better on defense.”

Matthews did rip the cords for 22, and Megan Brown added 10 for the only double figure scorers for the Lady Cats, but too many fouls spelled defeat. The Lady Cavaliers went to the foul line 32 times on the night and hit 24.

Friday night in the home opener, it was a totally different Lady Wildcats team on the floor against Macon County.

Although trailing 29-36 at intermission, the Lady Cats poured on the offense and defense in the second half. Livingston outscored the Lady Tigers 17-10 in the third frame and 14-9 in the final period to come away with their fourth win of the season against one loss.

Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, “We need to play better defense, and in the second half, I thought we played the best we have all season.

“We couldn't stop their 3-point shooting, but inside we took control, and it paid off.”

Matthews led the LA attack with 17 points, while Mullins added 15 and West 13.

For the boys, a win Friday of any kind, would be welcome news.

Before blowing a 17-point lead against Celina in the final half, and losing 60-64 on Thursday, Dec. 1, the Wildcats went to Cookeville on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and led by 4 at intermission only to see the Cavaliers reel off 11 straight points to open the second half. Despite a late rally, the Cats fell 54-58.

Wildcats Coach Richard Melton explained before Friday's contest, “I don't think I slept a wink last night. We do well for a while, then we lose concentration or something and let it get away.

“We need a complete game from every player on this team, and hopefully, tonight, we can get it.”

Freshman Chase Dunn had two good scoring nights in the first two games of the week with 15 points in each contest, while Brandon Matthews had 11 against Celina and Lance Ruble hit for 16 in the loss to Cookeville.

Matthews would catch fire in the first half of the Macon County game on Friday, pouring in 21 points in the half that included five 3-pointers. He would add another 3-pointer in the third period, and finish the night with 29 points.

In the meantime, his teammates would help take a 50-30 halftime lead to the locker room, and this time they would hold on to it. With the final score rolling to 78-64, Livingston reached its highest scoring output of the young season.

Dunn would add 17 points to the total and Ruble would hit for 8.

The win moved the Wildcats' record to 2-4 thus far on the season.

After travelling to Jamestown to play York Institute on Tuesday, Dec. 6 for more region play, Livingston Academy's teams will return to their home court on Friday, Dec. 9 to take on region foe Cannon County, and will host Cookeville on Monday, Dec. 12.

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