College Football: Catawba wants to keep Mayor's Cup from Livingstone
By Mike London
SALISBURY — It wasn’t the standard early September football press conference.
Not with Salisbury mayor Paul Woods on hand to sample the buffet at Ryan’s. Not with the towering, gleaming, freshly polished Mayor’s Cup trophy conspicuously standing on the floor.
And and not with athletic directors and sports information directors from two Salisbury colleges packed into a banquet room along with a pair of head coaches and five athletes — three Blue Bears and two Indians.
After a one-year-hiatus in their annual get-togethers, Catawba and Livingstone will clash for the 13th time on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Shuford Stadium. The Mayor’s Cup will again be at stake.
“We’re very anxious to play Catawba,” Livingstone’s All-CIAA linebacker Tyheim Pitt said. “There’s always that feud for bragging rights. It’s a good rivalry and may the best team win.”
It is, as a wise man once said, only a rivalry if both teams win once in a while. At this point, the record book says Catawba-Livingstone is still just a series, not a rivalry. Catawba is 12-0 against the Blue Bears.
It was 59-8 in 2010, 51-0 in 2009, 49-7 in 2008 ,,, and well, you get the idea.
The teams didn’t meet in the late 1990s when Livingstone was powerful, so there has been just one competitive, could-have-gone-either way struggle in the history of the series, That was in 2003, in Chip Hester’s first game at the helm of the Indians, when Catawba was fortunate to escape Livingstone’s Alumni Stadium with a 30-22 victory. Hester has never forgotten that draining experience, and before every meeting with Livingstone he warns his team that the Blue Bears are hungry and capable.
Livingstone receiver Anthony Holland, who had 10 catches for 195 yards in Saturday’s 70-35 loss to Chowan, sounds hungry.
“I don’t know a lot of their players, but we’re just walking distance away from Catawba,” he said. “That makes it a game we really want to win.”
When you give up 70 points opening night, there’s only one way to go defensively. Chowan thoroughly enjoyed its visit to Livingstone. Chowan had a quarterback, receiver and offensive lineman named CIAA players of the week, and the Hawks broke their school records for scoring in a game and a half (49 in the first).
Catawba (1-0) was playing the same sport as Livingstone on Saturday, but that’s where the similarities ended. While the scoreboard was overheating at Alumni Stadium, it was often stagnant in Catawba’s 24-3 win at West Liberty.
Catawba’s defense was the story. It forced eight turnovers and posted 11 sacks.
“We were in a defensive struggle and Livingstone was in a shootout,” Hester said. “It was two completely different styles of games. What worries you is that they scored 35 points and did a lot of good things offensively. Looking at the film of their game, if a couple of plays go differently, they would’ve had a different outcome on Saturday.
Livingstone is 0-1, but what it did come away from Saturday’s lopsided loss with was optimism about a passing game fueled by Holland and CIAA Rookie of the Week QB Drew Powell.
“I think we proved to people that we have an offense to be reckoned with, and our defense is only going to get better,” Holland said.
Ace kick returner Terry Anderson, who amassed 199 yards on 10 kickoff returns on Saturday, echoed Holland.
“We had darn near 500 yards of offense against Chowan,” he said. “No, it’s not a win, but we had a lot of young guys got their feet wet and the offense got off to a great start.”
Stay tuned. Maybe this is the year this series becomes a rivalry.
“I think we’re going to have our hands full,” Hester said.