College Football: Livingstone Notebook

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2008

By Nick Bowton
Rashaad Flucker and Chris Peoples go through the same routine every Sunday.
Flucker, Livingstone’s leading rusher as a senior, and Peoples, the team’s leading receiver as a freshman, check out a couple of sports Web sites to see which player has the best photos featured. Then they’ll joke with each other about the results.
The CIAA Web site threw a kink in that routine this past Sunday.
Flucker, Peoples and quarterback Steve Williams were looking at the Web site for normal purposes when they noticed a small press release about Bowie State. The Blue Bears lost to the Bulldogs 15-10 on Sept. 20, but the conference Web site said Bowie had to forfeit the victory because of using ineligible players.
After confirming that information, the Blue Bears find themselves 3-0 in the conference ó not a bad turnaround after entering the weekend 1-1.
“(Flucker) looked at Steve, Steve looked at me, I looked back at Flucker, and I was like, ‘Nah, that can’t be true,’ ” Peoples said. “They started jumping up and down. I was like, ‘Y’all chill. I’m gonna call Coach Massie.’ So I called him, and he was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ I was like, ‘Coach, we’re dead serious. It’s on the internet.’ He said, ‘Y’all playing!’ I was like, ‘We’re on our way to your house right now.’
“So we left the Web page pulled up and took off running down the sidewalk down to his house.”
The news couldn’t have come at a better time for Massie.
Livingstone’s second-year coach was sitting at home, bemoaning the fact that someone had just broken into his office and stolen his laptop. So, of course, when a couple of his players called and wanted him to check out a Web site, he figured they were playing a joke on him.
Massie didn’t believe his players until he saw the information for himself.
“Boom, a 15-10 loss turns into a forfeited win,” he said. “Of course, I would have really preferred to have beaten them on the field, and we were a couple of feet away from actually doing that. But we will take the win and keep it moving.”

GAINING MOMENTUM: The Blue Bears’ rushing attack didn’t fall off after posting 184 yards against Lincoln two weeks ago.
Led by Flucker’s second straight game of 100-plus yards, Livingstone rushed for 178 as a team in a 32-26 victory against Johnson C. Smith.
Livingstone still ranks last in the conference with 83.2 yards per game, but two weeks ago that average was 34.3. Individually, Flucker now ranks third in the conference with 66.7 yards per game.
“The competitive spirit of the team, we have some guys stepping up,” Massie said. “A lot of that is the establishment of our running game, which makes things a little bit easier for our passing game. Once that happens, this is one of those classic (cases) where the run set up the pass. Flucker, Jamel Moore and Lakeem Graves have all been assets in the running game.
“People have to defend that, so they end up putting an extra person in the box or leaving single-man coverage on one receiver.”

PICK A PAIR: For the second consecutive game, Livingstone had one player intercept two passes. Both players were freshman defensive backs.
Against Lincoln, cornerback Devonta Harmon intercepted two passes. Against J.C. Smith, free safety Brandon Rousseau took his turn.
“The thing is it’s a travesty that Harmon didn’t get player of the week two weeks ago,” Massie said. “Second travesty is Rousseau didn’t get player of the week this week. Two interceptions, two freshmen, two weeks back-to-back, two wins. All of those interceptions had a direct impact in us winning each one of these games.
“I really don’t know what more our guys from Livingstone can do to get the appropriate accolades for the things they do well.”

FAB FRESHMEN: The performances of Harmon and Rousseau the past two games have just added to a season full of key contributions from freshmen.
Freshman linebacker Robert Massey-Brice is third in the CIAA in tackles with 9.0 per game, and Harmon and Rousseau are tied for second with two interceptions apiece. Livingstone’s second-leading tackler, Anthony Earles, is another freshman.
“When I came in, our whole secondary except for one person was a freshman,” Harmon said. “It’s just a matter of communicating, getting on the same page. The first couple of games that was our Achilles’ heel. Now we’re getting on the same page.”
Rousseau said defensive coordinator Eric Brown deserves some credit for disguising coverages, and he thinks the young secondary will only continue to improve.
“It’s a good feeling, knowing that we got each other in the future,” he said. “Young people making plays.”

OFF THE SHELF: Livingstone’s initial roster this season didn’t include receiver Kevin Shelf, but Shelf made sure to make himself known Saturday with a touchdown catch ó his first reception of the season.
Massie said he wasn’t sure what to expect when Shelf entered the game. Shelf, Massie said, “came in this year and just stayed in my doghouse, constantly not catching passes.” But when Massie said he needed a receiver Saturday, Shelf bounced off the bench and entered the game.
“I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. I hope he knows what he’s doing,’ ” said Massie, who added that the touchdown catch was one of the prettiest he’s seen in a while. “And we had just covered a particular technique on a play to his side that week. If you run a fade to the back of the end zone, then you run along the back of the end zone so you’re not just a non-option. And I’ll be, Shelf ran the route, scrambled down the line, Steve shuffled his feet, moved around to the left, found him, threw it to him.”
Not a bad way to make his first catch, and Shelf’s touchdown impressed Massie even more after Massie learned Shelf was hiding a dislocated finger because he thought his head coach might not let him play if he found out.