College Football: Saint Agustine’s 31, Livingstone 7
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 17, 2009
By David Shaw
RALEIGH ó The training wheels have long since been removed, but Livingstone’s football team still looks off-balance.
The winless Blue Bears spent another Saturday kicking the tires in yesterday’s 31-7 CIAA loss to host St. Augustine’s.
“The mistakes we’re making are just bad mental mistakes,” coach Eric Brown said at Broughton High School, where LC lost its eighth game of the season and fell to 0-5 in the conference. “We’ve got to be better decision-makers as a whole team ó and that means coaches, players, everyone.”
Time is no longer Livingstone’s friend. With only two challenging games remaining, the possibility of a barren season is quite real. The Blue Bears close with matches at defending league champion Shaw next Saturday and at home against Fayetteville State on Oct. 31.
“We’ve got to finish strong,” defensive back Alkeem Deloatch insisted after making 10 tackles and recovering a third-quarter fumble. “No one saw oh-and-eight coming, but we know there’s always room for improvement. That’s what keeps us going around here.”
While Livingstone’s defense sparkled, particularly in the first half, it’s plodding running game produced a season-worst negative-22 yards rushing. Starting quarterback Steven Williams (3-for-10, 49 yards) tied a school record with his 341st career completion, but it came late in the third period with LC trailing 17-0. Williams ó who accounted for more than 400 yards in last week’s loss to Chowan ó spent more time on his back than Michelangelo. He was routinely forced out of his comfort zone, sacked six times and spent much of the afternoon scrambling for his life.
“Their defense did that,” said backup QB Bryan Aycoth, who relieved Williams and completed 7 of 16 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. “They were sending more guys than we could block. I mean, we’ve got five linemen and they’re sending six or seven. As soon as you got the snap, they were coming. There was no time to sit and read anything.”
Brown agreed. “They were quick on the line,” he said. “But I told Steve that as long as he was trying to do things in the spirit of what we’re trying to do, what the coaches are asking him to do, to just keep plugging. He didn’t have a good day, but I equate that to an athlete going through a tough time.”
St. Aug’s (3-5, 3-2) got its homecoming party started in the first quarter. Aycoth, who doubles as Livingstone’s punter, booted a low, line drive that freshman Tyron Laughinghouse returned 43 yards for a touchdown. He found a seam down the left side and eluded several potential tacklers.
“They seemed to have success whenever we messed up,” said LC linebacker Justin Johnson. “And we messed up on that play.”
Winning coach Michael Costa said that scoring less than five minutes into the game “opened a door for us.”
He added: “Livingstone’s a scrappy bunch. They came to play. If you’re not careful they could hang around and find a way to beat you.”
Thanks to its China Wall defense, LC hung around for the rest of the opening half. A late field goal gave the Falcons a 10-0 halftime lead, but the Blue Bears had to feel about surviving a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line predicament.
“Good teams make adjustments,” said Brown. “It’s like a boxing match. You’ve got to counter the jab, duck-and-weave. It went back and forth like that until that third quarter, when things kind of got away from us.”
St. Aug’s landed a haymaker with 5:27 remaining in the third period. Williams faced second-and-long from his own 13 when Marcus Crump ó a 6-foot-6, 240-pound defensive end with a quick first step ó forced a fumble and returned it for a TD and a 17-0 lead.
“That’s my job,” Crump said with a Cheshire-cat smile. “I’m a speed dude. I come off the ball and beat the offensive line as many times as possible.”
Livingstone broke through in the fourth quarter when Aycoth fired a 7-yard touchdown pass to Terril Goudine with 6:58 to play. But St. Aug’s doused any enthusiasm when Walter Sanders scored 40 seconds later.
“They’re all tough games,”Brown concluded. “But any time you get to strap on equipment and be a student-athlete, it’s always worth trying.”