College Football: Bowie 15, Livingstone 10
By Mike London
Livingstone quarterback Steven Williams heaved the football to the end zone on the final play, and three Blue Bears and five Bowie State Bulldogs waited impatiently for it to descend.
The ball was batted up and hung in the air for a tantalizing, desperate half-second. Then it crashed to the ground.
It was another Livingstone loss, but with a different feel. When Williams let fly, Livingstone still had a chance.
The final in the Blue Bears’ CIAA opener: Bowie 15, Livingstone 10.
“That last Hail Mary, I threw it and started praying one of my guys would come down with it,” Williams said. “We just needed that lucky tip, but we came out on the bottom again.”
Still, Livingstone (0-4, 0-1) played as well as it has in a long time. The defense, led by linebacker Robert Massey-Brice who was in on 14 tackles, answered Bowie’s intimidating style with physical play from start to finish.
“The coaches have put us in position all year,” Massey-Brice said. “The difference today was we were more mentally aware and we played aggressive football. The football gods just weren’t with us at the end.”
The main reason Livingstone didn’t earn the first win of coach Lamonte Massie’s tenure is it couldn’t run the ball to take a little heat off Williams. Livingstone’s 25 rushes netted 3 yards.
“Most of the time, they just brought more guys than we could block,” Williams said.
Bowie (2-1, 1-0) played without star back Isaac Redman (stinger), but freshman Tariq Jones rushed for 147 yards.
Still, Livingstone’s defense made enough stops and takeaways to win most games.
“We were gang-tackling, we were physical, our guys were doing good things and reacting the right way to situations,” Massie said. “There were a long list of reasons for us not to play well, but except for a few simple things we did. It’s bittersweet right now. I’m as proud as I’ve ever been as a head coach, but we still came up a little short.”
Bowie drove hard early, but a big hit by Anthony Earles forced a fumble, and Stanford Dorsey recovered for the Blue Bears. Then Williams connected with Chris Peoples for a 79-yard touchdown. Williams was tightly covered just past midfield, but the Bowie DB was suddenly on the ground and Peoples was sprinting for six.
“I gave the DB a little nudge, caught the ball and took off,” Peoples said.
Dominic Piscitello’s PAT made it 7-0.
Bowie moved 68 yards to answer. The key play was QB Jason Scott’s 41-yard throw to Dominique Budd at the Livingstone 2. But the PAT try was tipped, and LC still led 7-6.
An interception by Dorsey set up a 39-yard field goal by Piscitello for a 10-6 lead with 5:01 left in the half, but two devastating LC penalties helped Bowie drive for a go-ahead TD before halftime.
Williams tossed an interception just before halftime, but Livingstone’s defense held firm and the Blue Bears, who had been outrushed 138 to minus-9, went to the locker room down 13-10.
The second half was a physical struggle. The worst play for Livingstone was a mixup on second-and-5 at the Bowie 25 when the Blue Bears were moving early in the third quarter. Williams expected Peoples to run a post route. Peoples broke off on a curl, and Bowie got an easy pick.
“Just a real costly miscommunication,” Peoples said. “We all felt like we were gonna score down there.”
Livingstone didn’t get many more chances. It gave away Bowie’s final two points on a safety on a bad snap.
Livingstone also had a punt blocked, but it held Bowie and Devonta Harmon blocked a field-goal try to give Livingstone’s offense one final shot.
As the Alumni Stadium crowd came alive, Williams pushed the Blue Bears from the LC 13 to the Bowie 38 on a frantic drive against the clock before he was forced to launch that final, failed Hail Mary.
“We just needed a few more seconds,” Williams said.