ZEPHYR — Live Oak coach Jordan Barker may have sidestepped an icy post-game Gatorade bath, but he wasn’t getting away from the clutches of a jubilant Falcon dogpile.
After just two years as a varsity program, Live Oak has its first state championship.
Live Oak exploded for 34 unanswered points in the second quarter Saturday to whip San Antonio FEAST, 53-6, in the TCAL six-man state championship game on a blustery, chilly afternoon at Bulldog Stadium.
The Live Oak (12-0) football program was founded in 2007 and only joined its first varsity classification last year. The Falcons left no doubt about their supremacy in TCAL this season, ripping through the league and the playoffs without so much as being challenged.
Now it’s party time.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said senior running back Michael Fulbright, who scored four of Live Oak’s touchdowns. “We started the season in two-a-days and we worked for it every week. To finally be here after almost four months, I couldn’t be happier to be a senior and finish the season like this.”
There was some doubt that it would be all that easy early on. A frigid wind swept across the field and snapped at the goal post flags throughout the afternoon, making trudging toward the north end zone a chore. The Falcons were aimed in that direction for the first quarter, and their opening drive stalled on fourth down at the FEAST 9. The Patriots (8-4) then took six plays to score their only touchdown. Quarterback Jonathan Dagerath fumbled the snap but bought some time, evading rushers before spotting brother Jeremy for a 27-yard strike and a 6-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.
“We knew FEAST was going to be very good,” Fulbright said. “When they stopped us that time, we just kind of had to stay the course, keep doing what we do best and we’d be OK.”
The Falcons followed through on that directive. It was the only time they were stopped all day and it would be the only FEAST score.
Live Oak scored just once in the opening quarter, a 6-yard rush from David Moffatt to take a 7-6 lead with 3:17 left in the opening frame. Then the field flipped in the second quarter, allowing Live Oak to play with the wind and opening up the playbook for Tyler Williams’ arm.
The Falcons took full advantage.
Seldom has a team registered a more dominant quarter than Live Oak did in the second frame on Saturday. Holding a slim lead through the first 10 minutes, Live Oak put the game firmly out of reach by scoring 34 unanswered points in the second quarter. The Falcons scored their last five touchdowns of the first half in nine plays.
“I think going with the wind helped us get the ball in the air,” Barker said. “We’re dangerous in the air, and we just needed to get the ball up.”
Indeed, Moffatt opened the quarter with a 40-yard reception on the first play, and Fulbright polished off the drive with a short touchdown plunge. The rest of the quarter was a breezy downhill stroll for the Falcons. Williams threw lengthy touchdowns to Fulbright and Moffatt, while each registered two touchdowns apiece on the ground in the second quarter alone for a 41-6 edge at halftime.
Meanwhile, FEAST was hampered by Live Oak’s swarming defense. Two of their drives in the decisive second quarter ended in turnover on downs, one ended in a fumble and the other ended with a punt. FEAST finished with 127 total yards to Live Oak’s 408.
As they have been all year, the Falcons were led by their outstanding senior captain trio of Moffatt, Fulbright and Williams. Moffatt did most of his damage through the air, catching three balls for 107 yards, while Fulbright was unstoppable on the ground with nine carries for 100 yards and three scores. Williams finshed 7-of-12 for 192 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes.
“Their stats will be unbelievable,” Barker said. “It’s really good that a back that every other pass he throws is a touchdown, and David and Michael Fulbright, they just find a way to get open and make plays. They’ve been doing that for three years now. We were just so excited to have something to play for, and they knew it.”
Moffatt finally delivered the hammer blow with 5:34 to play in the third quarter, blasting down the near sideline for a 33-yard score that pushed the margin above 45 points to end it on the mercy rule. Moffatt went to a knee in the corner of the end zone before being mobbed by his teammates, streaming down the sideline to celebrate the biggest win in school history.
“It’s special now, and that’s what really matters for them,” Barker said. “Because they got one. They got one.”