By Mac McLeod,
A week ago, Livingston lineman Dustin Parrish was in on just about every tackle, opened big holes in the Cookeville defense, and was just about everywhere in a thrilling victory. Friday night against Cumberland County, things weren’t quite as exciting.
“It was a totally different atmosphere tonight,” Parrish commented after he and his teammates walked off the field at Tom Davis Memorial Stadium, winners of a 42-0 contest that had it moments, but nothing like the previous Friday night. “We didn’t play all that bad, but you just can’t compare these two games. Last week it was a big 6-A team that we hadn’t beaten in 20 or so years, and tonight we were supposed to win. Just not the same.”
With those words, Parrish summed up the easy Livingston Academy win, its third straight this season.
But Parrish was quick to note: “Next week will be like last week, and we had better be ready. Baxter is like Cookeville – it’s a big rival and they are good.”
But even in a one-sided 42-0 win, there were exciting moments and there were a couple landmarks that were either tied or passed. A large crowd was on hand to see just what the Cats would do offensively and defensively. Currently, the LA offense is in high gear and so is the defense.
Neither let the crowd down and almost every player in a uniform got in on the action.
“Well, I didn’t play all that good, but it was fun getting on the field and facing a real opponent,” backup quarterback Nathan Cowgill explained, and Ayden Coffee, another backup quarterback, added almost the same words. “Just getting to play was a thrill and it was also good experience.”
And while the starting quarterback, Will McDonald, was tying one of his coach’s passing records, Lannah Taylor made a landmark appearance as the first female to see varsity football action at Livingston Academy.
“I’m honored with that,” Taylor smiled. “It has been something I’ve always wanted to do. I tried in the lower grades, but it didn’t work, but Coach Lamb gave me the opportunity, and I really had fun out there.
“And, I didn’t get hurt,” she added with a big smile.
McDonald, coming off perhaps his finest performance of his four-year starting career at LA last week, got off to a slow start, but when he finally found the range, it turned out to be another exciting night, especially for the fans.
“I was a little slow starting,” McDonald confessed. “Then I found Wesley (Smith) for about 10 yards, Raven (Carpenter) for a big gain (30 yards) and Wesley again for the touchdown (39 yards), and we were back in rhythm. The offensive line gave me a lot of time tonight to find receivers, and that’s always a big deal. “
McDonald would find Smith for three touchdowns on the night, and in doing so, tied his quarterback coach, Danny McCoin, with 55 touchdowns, a mark that has stood since 1982.
Smith added 118 receiving yards to his career mark and climbed to third place in the all-time list with 1,944 receiving yards. First place is held by Matthan Houser at 2,065, just 121 yards ahead of Smith.
As for the game itself, Cumberland brought an 0-2 mark to the game, and with a little over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, saw Nate Neely barge into the endzone from eight yards out following a Smith interception. Tee Beaty hit the first of his six conversions and LA was on top 7-0.
McDonald found his favorite target, Smith, in his favorite spot, the left corner of the endzone, on the next series for a 39-yard score, and from that point on, it was never a contest. A second touchdown by Neely with 35 seconds remaining in the quarter gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead, and when McDonald found his other favorite target, Aubrey Hollars, in the same favorite spot with seconds remaining in the half, the rout was on.
After Smith hauled in another touchdown pass from McDonald to start the third quarter and Neely added his second rushing score of the night, Coach Lamb went to the bench to reward his players for all their efforts.
“It’s always good to give everybody a chance to play,” the coach stated. “They work hard every day in practice, and we want to give them a chance to get on the field. Plus, it gives them experience, and next year, when all these seniors graduate, we want them to have had as much game experience as we can get them.”
After Smith’s 40-yard scoring catch on the third play of the second half, a continuous clock went in effect.
Once McDonald found his groove, he connected on 13 passes for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Smith caught 5 for 118 yards, and Raven Carpenter pulled in 3 for 40 yards for his best game of his career. Hollars caught 4 for 45 yards and one touchdown.
Neely had a good night carrying the ball 11 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Kernell carried 3 times for 25 yards, Kaleb Robinson had 3 carries for 16 yards, Dylan Woodall had 15 yards on 4 carries, Hollars had 11 yards on one carry while Lochlan Hammock, and Cowgill both got short yardage on one carry each.
Defensively, Dexter Wright led the LA charge with 5 tackles, followed by Thomas Penitcuff with 4. Carson Smith, Neely, and Carwile each were credited with 3, Westyn Clouse, Robinson, Kernell, Cole Spears, Parrish, and Austin Reeder were all in on at least 2 stops, while Bryer Mosley, Wesley Smith, Daniel Hill, Jon Storie, Hollars, and Cody Garrett were credited with one each.
Wesley Smith and Carpenter each had one interception, and Robinson was credited for recovering an on-side kick. Punter Joseph Dee kicked twice for 36 yards average.
“It just wasn’t that intense out there tonight,” Spears pointed out, “but you can bet one thing, it will be intense at Baxter next week. It’s a big game for both of us – we’re both undefeated and we both want to win this as bad as any game we play. We’ll be ready.”
In his parting words to the team shortly after the game, coach Lamb reminded his squad, ”They hate you and you hate them. That’s all you really need to know.”
The game will be played in Baxter, starting at 7 p.m.
17 1st downs 7
140 Yds. Rushing 117
212 Yds. Passing 31
352 Total Yards 148
23/13 Pass Att/comp. 12/2
2 Passes INT by 0
0 Fumbles lost 1
2/36 Punts /Avg. 6/39
55 Yds. Pent. 35
Score by quarters:
LA – 21 7 14 0 – 42
CCHS – 0 0 0 0 – 0