The Livingston Academy earned a 21-14 win over rival Upperman on Friday night in Livingston.
The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) forced five turnovers and got a big performance out of senior running back Kaleb Robinson as they secured the narrow rivalry win.
“Our kids played lights-out,” said LA head coach Bruce Lamb. “We didn’t play perfect, but we left everything on the field. We asked them to play hard, and the effort last night was maybe one of the best efforts I’ve seen in my coaching career. I can’t say enough about it.”
The Bees (2-2, 1-0) struggled to move the ball through the air as they loss ended their two-game winning streak.
“Overall, I was pleased with our effort,” said UHS head coach Adam Caine. “I think we had a decent level of competitiveness. I knew going in they were going to be a difficult test. We like to run the football, and they’re really good at limiting the run game. I’ve got to give them credit. That’s a true credit to their coaching staff.”
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the first quarter when Robinson took in a four-yard touchdown rush to give LA a 6-0 lead. Upperman responded with a 24-yard touchdown rush by junior Ty Dutchess as the Bees took a 7-6 lead into halftime.
The two rivals continued to battle as each team scored touchdowns to make it a 14-14 tie with 10:29 remaining in the game.
Robinson took in his third touchdown of the game with 6:10 remaining in the game to move the score to 21-14, and sophomore quarterback and defensive back Nathan Cowgill intercepted a UHS pass in the final moments as the Wildcats secured the win.
Caine gave credit to the Wildcats.
“I’m going to give Livingston credit,” said Caine. “I think my guys played hard. I think they tried hard and they wanted to win. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in better situations to make plays. I’m going to eat this one myself and hopefully we can regroup and come back Monday and try to get a win this week.”
Dutchess led the way for the Bees with 125 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
The Wildcat defense came away with four interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Robinson rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns on 30 attempts. Lamb said the formula of running the football and playing good defense is one the Wildcats want to continue.
“I think we’re going to run the ball quite a bit,” said Lamb. “Kaleb Robinson was unstoppable. He averaged almost six yards per carry. We’ve got to get him the ball.”
After losing starting quarterback Parker Coleman to an injury in week two, Cowgill has stepped up as the LA starter. He went 9-14 for 81 yards.
“Nathan’s coming into his own,” said Lamb. “We’re getting there. We’re starting to find our identity and it’s getting much better.”
Lamb said the win was a confidence builder.
“It’s definitely a confidence builder,” said Lamb. “Everyone knows Coach Caine does a great job with those kids. They’re a good football team. I don’t think anybody picked us to win except for us in the locker room, and that’s what matters more than anything. My hats off to those kids.”
The Bees now turn their attention towards a Region 4/3A matchup with Cannon County (0-4). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Baxter.
“I think anybody that watches us on film is going to really think they have a chance to beat us,” said Caine. “We’re kind of up-and-down right now. They’re going to come in here and punch us in the mouth and see if we want to respond. We’re going to… see if we can get a little bit of an edge about us, a little bit of fire… and a little anger about us when we take the football field.”
The Wildcats will now turn their attention towards a Region 3/4A matchup against Stone Memorial (1-3). It is the High School Football Game of the Week and will be broadcasted live on the UCR Facebook page and Newstalk 107.7 and 1400 the HUB. Pregame coverage is set to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Photos by Lance Little: