Prep Football: Live Oak jumps on Christopher early in 42-14 win

Christopher quarterback Matt Adamkiewicz attempts to ellude a Live Oak tackle on his way to the end zone during Friday's game.

MORGAN HILL—Zach Heffernan waited patiently for his chance to make a contribution to the Live Oak football team. And on Friday night—a night when Live Oak’s big play makers were making big plays—Heffernan found a way to standout in a 42-14 win over Christopher.
“I’ve been waiting a while to get here. I was on the team last year. I had to wait my time and made the best of it,” Heffernan said.
Junior runningback Jacob Ryder ran for a game-high 106 yards on 10 carries. Quarterback Erik Ornduff threw for 77 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 86 yards with two more touchdowns. Paul Lomanto had a pick-6.
Eugene Nfon was all over the place on special teams and defense, recording a half-sack and several big hits on punts and kickoffs to pin Christopher deep in its own zone.
But Heffernan had an impressive stat line to himself.
He blocked a field goal and caught two touchdown passes as Live Oak went on to rout a Christopher team that was missing one of its key weapons.
Cougars receiver PJ Reichert, who was instrumental in a season-opening win a week ago, was sidelined with a cast on his arm.
“He’s a big factor in our offense. We knew we were losing him for a couple of weeks, so we all had to fight as a team and work for one another because we’re all a brotherhood,” said runningback Freddy Mireles.
His loss was immediately felt as Live Oak held Christopher’s quarterback Matt Adamkiewicz to 54 yards passing a week after he threw for 288 yards and torched Sobrato for four touchdowns.
But Coach Tim Pierleoni said while Reichert’s absence hurt, much of the credit has to go to how well Live Oak’s defense played.
“They’re a very fast team and they just manned us up and said, ‘you’re not going to run by us,’” Pierleoni said. “That’s a good way to play if your guys can’t run by them. … Hopefully we get him back (soon), but the other kids are going to have to play better (in his absence).”
Pierleoni said he is going to review film to see exactly what went wrong and where his boys and himself can improve to get ready for the games to come.
Dylan Olivares did his best to get the Cougars going on the ground, tallying 88 yards on eight carries. Most of those yards, however, came on a 68-yard run in the first quarter.
Adamkiewicz had a deceptively good running night, recording 30 yards on 13 carries, but his first four runs were all for loss. Adamkiewicz at one point had negative 32 yards rushing before recording positive carries.
“There was no quit in us. That’s the good. You can’t quit, you’ve got to keep playing hard,” Pierleoni said.
Ultimately, however, a well-rounded effort from Live Oak proved too much for Christopher.
Heffernan got in on one of the big plays that set the tone of the night early.
After Live Oak opened the game, going 53 yards on three plays with Ryder breaking a 47-yard touchdown run, Christopher answered with a big run deep inside Live Oak territory.
But with the ball on the Acorn 10, the drive stalled and went backwards, forcing Christopher to settle for a 36-yard field goal.
Heffernan got free up the middle, stuck his long arms out and blocked the kick.
“The inside guy just kind of dropped to the ground and the outside guy disregarded me. I’ve got really long arms, took my best shot at it, put my arm out there and luckily got it off,” Heffernan said.
The swing in momentum proved crucial as Live Oak’s next two possessions ended badly. After blocking the kick, the Acorns netted a loss of nine yards before punting. Then after forcing Christopher to a three-and-out, Live Oak fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, giving the Cougars the ball back.
Both times, the defense held.
“Our defense kept us in the game in the beginning of the game,” said coach Mike Gemo. “They have an explosive offense and we did a real good job against them.”
Eventually, Live Oak found a little bit of luck.
With the Acorns on the CHS 31, quarterback Ornduff received a bad snap that fell to the ground. He picked it up and had to abandon his original play.
Instead he broke off a 69-yard run for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead at the 2:42 mark of the first quarter.
Just 20 seconds later, Live Oak was ahead by 21.
With the Cougars backed up on their own 10, Matt Adamkiewicz threw a pass up the middle that was picked off by Lomanto, who ran it back 20-plus yards for a quick score.
At the quarter’s end, it looked like Christopher might be in for a little bit of luck.
On third and short from the Cougar 47, a Live Oak handoff got dropped and the Cougars recovered their second fumble of the game.
Once again, however, Live Oak’s defense stood tall, allowing Christopher just two yards on its ensuing possession and got the ball back to the offense.
Live Oak made the most of it, going 60 yards, highlighted by Paul Lomanto breaking a 12-yard run on a fake punt to keep the drive alive.
Ryder got Live Oak on the 5 yard line with a 19-yard run and Ornduff took it the rest of the way, rushing for five yards for his second TD of the night and a 28-0 lead.
“We were down 28 points and that was on our half, our whole defense, our whole team, we were down,” said Christopher runningback Freddy Mireles. “But we had to pick it up as a team, get ourselves motivated and bring it in the second half.
After that, however, it appeared Christopher’s luck might change.
Late in the first half, Live Oak was pinned deep in its own territory and settled for a punt.
The snap was bad and the Cougars brought down kicker Ryan Quadros on the Live Oak 13.
Three plays later, Adamkiewicz ran the ball in from two yards out.
Then to start the second half, Adamkiewicz and Mireles led the Cougars on a six-play 82-yard drive capped off with Adamkiewicz running it in from two-yards out and just like that, the four score deficit was down to two.
“Our running game came alive there in the second half,” Pierleoni said. “But once you get pushed back and you have third-and-long, you really can’t run the ball.”
But Live Oak got its second wind.
Despite having a Ryder 48-yard scoring run be called back by a penalty, the Acorns still went 42 yards on eight plays when Ornduff hit Heffernan for a 22-yard scoring strike, putting Live Oak back up 35-14.
That’s where the scored stayed until early in the fourth quarter when it was Christopher’s turn for a bad punt.
A punt from the CHS 8 netted just four yards and Live Oak needed just three plays to go the 12 yards.
Heffernan caught an Ornduff pass from the 1 and Live Oak led by the final 42-14 margin.
Christopher had one last gasp to make a game of it, taking the ball down to the Live Oak 35.
The Cougars nearly had a quick score when Adamkiewicz hit Anthony Rodriguez wide open over the middle with no one near him for 10 yards.
But Rodriguez fell on the Live Oak 35 and that’s where the Cougars stalled.
Live Oak then ran all but the last minute-plus off the clock and Christopher simply ran simple runs to let the clock finally wind down.
The Cougars will now enter a bye-week before hosting Hillsdale in their home opener on Sept. 25.
Live Oak, meanwhile, now gets ready to play Sobrato in the annual El Toro Bowl, slated to begin at 1:45 p.m. Sept. 19.

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