Lions grind up Bears
Paul Nevarez had another stellar game running the football, but it was Live Oak High's defense that was the key, as the Lions routed visiting Pierce, 40-0, in the Lions' homecoming game Friday.
Nevarez rushed for 160 yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns, bringing his total for five games to 668 yards and nine TDs.
“Whenever I have a question, he has the answer,” Live Oak coach Jim Arostegui said of Nevarez. “Whenever I don't know what play to run, I just give him the football.”
The Lions handed off to Nevarez nine straight times to open the game. Nevarez had 91 yards by halftime and didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. He scored on runs of 3, 30 and 65 yards.
As impressive as Nevarez was, the Lions' defense was even better. Live Oak (4-1) completely shut down the Bears, holding Pierce (3-2) to just 36 yards of total offense through three quarters, before bringing in its reserves.
“They beat us up front,” Pierce coach Roy Perkins said. “They physically dominated both sides of the ball.”
Live Oak also cashed in on two interceptions. The first, by Bo Kanada, set up the Lions' first score. Kanada returned his interception on Pierce's opening drive 25 yards back to the 20. Four Nevarez runs later, Live Oak was in the end zone, with Nevarez crashing in from three yards out. Carlos Del Rio added the extra point to make it 7-0, with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
Nevarez scored again with a 30-yard scamper less than four minutes into the second period. That gallop capped a five-play, 45-yard drive, and Del Rio's kick made it 14-0.
After the Lions' defense held Pierce on the Bears' next possession, forcing
them to punt, Live Oak took over at its own 25. Eleven plays later, Alex Negrete hit Daniel Gonzalez with a 13-yard pass for the score, and Del Rio's kick made it 21-0 with 1:41 still left in the first half.
Live Oak scored again less than four minutes into the second half when Gonzalez intercepted a pass from Pierce quarterback Jake Geyer. Gonzalez bobbled the ball a few steps before clutching it to his chest, and then sprinted 45 yards to the end zone.
Andy Cordona blocked the extra point kick, leaving Live Oak with a 27-0 lead.
It took Live Oak just one play to score the next time it got the football. Following a Pierce punt, Negrete took the hand-off and bolted up the middle for 65 yards and the TD. Del Rio's kick made it 34-0 with 5:20 still remaining in the third period.
The Lions scored their final touchdown with 7:55 remaining in the game. Brandyn Harned swept around his right side for 42 yards for the score, capping a seven-play, 90-yard drive and leaving Live Oak with a 40-0 cushion.
After being held to just two first downs in the first three periods, the Bears finally moved the ball in the fourth period. Pierce managed three first downs, one off a Live Oak penalty, before the offense stalled with an incomplete pass on fourth down at the 20.
Live Oak then ran out the clock.
“I was glad we were able to bounce back,” Arostegui said, referring to the Lions' 21-13 loss last week at East Nicolaus. “I'm glad we didn't point fingers and try to blame each other.”
Live Oak finished the game with 265 yards on the ground and 39 through the air.
Arostegui added the Lions were very physical up front against Pierce. Live Oak held the Bears to just 47 yards rushing and 17 through the air.
“I really thought we'd be able to run the ball a little better than we did,” Perkins admitted.
“Defensively, I thought we played decent,” Perkins added.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Richard Myers can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at email@example.com