St. Pauls rallies to beat West Bladen

Curt Vincent Civitas Media

September 13, 2013

DUBLIN — Quarterback Malik Livingston ran 14 yards for a touchdown with 1 minute left in the game to knot the score at 22-22, and then passed to Tim Billinger for the two-point conversion, which proved to be the game-winner against West Bladen on Friday.

After a scoreless first quarter that saw both teams put on long drives that got stopped short of the end zone, the Knights got on tyhe board first when Malique McDowell scored on a 1-yard run with 8:25 left in the half. The point after was no good, but the Knights had a 6-0 lead.

The two teams traded turnovers before West Bladen marched 80 yards in just two plays — the big one a 79-yard touchdown run by Malcolm Vaught. De’quan Lennon ran in the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.

The Bulldogs took over on their own 42 with just 1:31 left in the half, but struck quickly. On the first play, Livingston lofted a pass to a streaking Gary Coward, who raced 58 yards for the score. A Livingston to Billinger pass tacked on two points and St. Pauls had cut the deficit to 14-8 at halftime.

On West Bladen’s opening possession of the second half, Daquan Blue intercepted a pass and the Bulldogs went on a 16-play, 64-yard march that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Livingston with 4:15 left in the third quarter. Livingston ran in the conversion and St. Pauls took a 16-14 edge.

West Bladen responded with an 11-play, 60-yard drive that didn’t end until quarterback Nijeal Williams hit Vaught with a 23-yard touchdown pass with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. Lennon added the two-point try and the Knights went back on top, 22-16.

The two teams traded a pair of quick possessions before the Bulldogs marched from their own 18 to the West Bladen 35. The Knights’ Edward Owens intercepted a Livingston pass that would have dashed St. Pauls’ hopes, but West Bladen was called for roughing the quarterback and the Bulldogs kept the ball at the Knights’20.

Livingston ran the ball twice, the last one a 14-yard touchdown run, and his pass to Billinger added the two points with 1 minute left to play for a 24-22 lead.

West Bladen never got started, and on the final play of the game for the Knights, Javon Crawford picked off a pass.

“We overcame a lot of mistakes against a good team,” said St. Pauls coach Trey Sasser. “We made some adjustments at halftime and the kids never gave up. I’m proud of how hard they played.”

Livingston gained 101 yards on 16 carries to lead St. Pauls. He was also 8-for-18 through the air for 174 yards and two interceptions.

Billinger caught three passes for 68 yards, while Lucan Hunt caught two passes for 29 yards.