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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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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