LIVONIA — As soon the clock expired, the celebration for Livonia High started with Mardi Gras music blaring out of the sound system.
The Wildcats are bound for New Orleans and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Farm/Prep Classic for the first time in school history.
Yes, the Big Easy. Make no mistake about it: Top-seeded Livonia’s 25-20 victory over Jennings in a Class 3A semifinal Friday night was big. And it was anything but easy.
A 12-play drive gave led to a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kerry Savoy that erased a 20-17 deficit with 6:18 left.
Few things are quite so exhilarating as high school football in December.
And few things are quite so cruel as seeing it end.
For Covington on Friday night, the Lions experienced exhilaration of just being in the semifinals of the playoffs since 1987, the first full house at Jack Salter Stadium since then, the early 14-0 lead against Parkway and the 27-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.
And then, the cruelty of coming up a point short, at 28-27.
SEATTLE — Cati Leak had a match-leading 22 kills to spark the LSU volleyball team to its fourth two-set comeback of the season as the Tigers outlasted No. 24 Michigan 23-25, 9-25, 25-14, 25-19, 15-10 on Friday at Alaska Airlines Arena during the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
With the win, LSU (19-12) snapped an 18-match losing streak to AVCA Top 25 opponents that dated back to the 2010 season. The victory also gave the Tigers their first NCAA tournament victory since 2009 and their ninth five-set win of the season, equaling the 1985 squad for a single-season record.
ATLANTA — Mike Slive peered over his glasses during the packed news conference and asked a simple question.
“All of you who predicted that Missouri and Auburn would be in this game, would you raise your hand?” Slive asked.
No one claimed to be that clairvoyant.
“We’ve got a lot of honest people in the audience here,” Slive said with a delighted grin. “Just another … very predictable (SEC) football season.”
Hardly. As the season, and with it the 15-year BCS era, draws to one final crescendo, figuring out what will happen and who will be the teams playing in the BCS National Championship Game remains, as usual, a fool’s errand.
There’s a key to covering Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, the infamous “Saint killer,” according to Roman Harper.
“You can’t let what he does affect you,” the New Orleans safety said. “You’ve got to be able to stay focused.”
That’s not always been the easiest proposition for the Saints (9-3), who host their NFC South rival Panthers (9-3) on Sunday night. Smith has scored more times on the Saints (11) than he has on any other opponent. He’s 11-10 against New Orleans during his 13-year career, catching 92 passes for 1,400 yards.
“With mobile quarterbacks, it puts you in limbo because sometimes when you’re in man (defense), you leave your man, and that’s when he beats you with his arm. But if you stay on your man, that’s when he beats you with his legs.” CURTIS LOFTON, Saints linebacker
After failing to contain Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the New Orleans Saints defense is faced with an even bigger challenge Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 6-plus inches taller and approximately 45 pounds heavier than Wilson — and he presents just as many problems with his ability to run designed option keepers, scramble under duress and extend plays.
After suffering two road losses at Rice 77-64 and at Nebraska 87-64 in late November, the Southern Lady Jaguars basketball team will return to the court and the F.G. Clark Activity Center Saturday at 11 a.m. as they host Spring Hill College.
Although the road trip resulted in the Lady Jaguars suffering two losses, coach Sandy Pugh said the experience that her team received was invaluable.
“I think we grew up a lot against Nebraska,” Pugh said. “Talking to the (players) about details, and narrowing the window of errors.
The Southern men’s basketball team came up just short in a game against one of last season’s co-champions of the Western Athletic Conference on Tuesday.
The Jaguars get a shot at the other co-champion when they play Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday in Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston.
Southern is 2-6 after a 75-74 overtime loss at Denver on Tuesday. Tech and Denver were both 16-2 in the WAC last season.
“I like the way we’re playing, we’re putting ourselves in position to win,” Jaguars coach Roman Banks said Friday.
ATLANTA — A little more than eight months out from the launch of the SEC Network, some of the network’s programming is beginning to take shape.
The network will start with a football doubleheader on Thursday, Aug.