The Bobcats matched the Lions score-for-score throughout the contest, but the Lions big-play passing attack made the difference at the end as Livingston defeated Orangefield 31-27 at F.L. McClain Stadium in Orangefield on Friday night.
Livingston took the opening kickoff and marched 59 yards in nearly five minutes for a 7-0 lead following a 3-yard scoring run from running back Lynn Johnson.
Orangefield followed suit on its first possession by using a nine-play, 70 yard drive which consumed another five minutes off the clock as Cameron Dischler scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night with a 10 yard run to even the game, 7-7.
Livingston quarterback Jontavian McNeal displayed his arm and the Lions air attack on the next possession.
Facing third-and- 8 from the 37-yard line, McNeal launched a deep ball down the left sideline for a 63-yard touchdown pass to receiver Willie Fagan and a 14-7 lead following the Eric Vazquez extra point before the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter action was much slower, but Orangefield even the score again late in the second quarter.
Bobcats quarterback Brayden Parker and the Orangefield ground game churned up the yards and the clock with a seven minute, 15 play scoring drive capped off by a 14-yard Dischler touchdown run. The key play of the drive was a 17-yard pass from Parker to Tyler Shearin.
Livingston added a 36-yard field goal by Vazquez to give the Lions a 17-14 lead as the clock expired at halftime.
The Bobcats took the second-half kickoff and marched 68 yards in 11 plays as Orangefield used a heavy dose of fullback Hunter Ashworth on this drive. Ashworth bulldozed through the middle for a 2-yard touchdown to give Orangefield its first lead of the night, 20-17.
The teams traded punts on the following possessions before Livingston began marching toward the end zone. However, facing fourth-and-goal from the Orangefield 11-yard line, the Bobcats defense stopped receiver Julian Gardner at the 3-yard line and forced a turnover-on-downs.
It appeared as if the Bobcats were ready to put the game away as the moved the ball to its own 34-yard line, while eating nearly five minutes off the game clock, but the Livingston defense stiffened and forced the Bobcats to punt. Unfortunately it was a short punt and the Lions took over at midfield.
McNeal and the Lions wasted little time in making the Bobcats pay. McNeal connected on a 14-yard pass to Gardner, and then, on the next play, McNeal rolled right and kept running to the end, while dodging Bobcats defenders, to put Livingston up again, 24-20.
Orangefield tried some trickery on the ensuing kickoff, but it did not go as planned and put the Bobcats deep in their own territory as the offense started from its own 14-yard line. Two runs by Dischler put the ball at the 33-yard line, but a Lions sack of Parker and an incomplete pass left Orangefield facing fourth down from its own 27 yard line.
The previous incompletion hit running back Dischler right in his hands in full stride but he couldn’t hold on to the ball. However, he redeemed himself on the next play with a highlight reel worthy one-handed catch and sprinted passed the Livingston defense for a 73-yard touchdown. The Bobcats now lead 27-24 with only 2:31 remaining in the game.
The Lions started their final drive at its own 41-yard line and the Bobcats defense was holding. However, McNeal found running back Johnson running down the left sideline stride-for-stride with a Bobcats defender and connected with him on a 39-yard pass before being tackled at the 1-yard line.
McNeal leaped over the defensive line with outstretched hands for the touchdown on the next play and put Livingston back on top, 31-27.
The Bobcats were unable to generate a miracle on their final possession as the clock ran out.
The Orangefield Bobcats (2-1) will travel to Buna next week to face the Cougars (0-3) next week, which lost 42-0 to Hardin Jefferson on Friday night.
-Tommy Mann, KOGT-
Livingston 14 3 0 14 31
Orangefield 7 7 6 7 27
L — Lynn Johnson 3 yard run, Eric Vazquez kick (7:02)
O — Cameron Dischler 10 yard run, Ty Butler kick (2:15)
L — Willie Fagan 63 yard pass from Jontavian McNeal, Vazquez kick (0:53)
O — Dischler 14 yard run, Butler kick (1:04)
L — Vazquez 36 yard field goal (0:00)
O — Hunter Ashworth 2 yard run, kick failed (6:23)
L — McNeal 30 yard run, Vazquez kick (4:37)
O — Dischler 73 yard pass from Brayden Parker, Butler kick (2:31)
L — McNeal 1 yard run, Vazquez kick (1:19)
First Downs 15 23
Rushes-Yards 21-87 52-220
Passing 242 126
Total Yards 329 346
Com-Att-Int 11-17-0 6-11-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 5-45 4-28
Rushing – Liv: Jontavian McNeal 10-58, Lynn Johnson 9-25, Julian Gardner 1-2, Brayden White 1-2; OF: Cameron Dischler 21-127, Hunter Ashworth 14-58, Gavin Perry-Koci 7-35, Macoy Marze 3-8, Evan Spears 2-6, Team 1-(-6), Brayden Parker 5-(-8)
Passing – Liv: Jontavian McNeal 11-17-0 242; OF: Brayden Parker 6-11-0 126
Receiving – Liv: Julian Gardner 6-81, Willie Fagan 2-79, Lynn Johnson 1-39, Javean Gardner 1-34, Brayden White 1-9; OF: Cameron Dischler 1-73, Koen Maddox 1-19, Tyler Shearin 1-17, Gavin Perry-Koci 1-8, Evan Spears 1-5, Morgan Sampson 1-4