CIAA Football: Edward Waters 42, Livingstone 36
By David Shaw
SALISBURY – The engine and transmission are in place at Livingstone, but the Blue Bears may need to get their brakes checked.
That was the storyline again Saturday at Alumni Stadium, where LC scored enough points to win – yet didn’t.
“We’re working too hard,” coach Elvin James said after winless Livingstone dropped a 42-36 decision to Edward Waters. “Thirty-six points? That should be enough to win in the CIAA. But that’s what happens when you dig yourself a big hole.”
The hole in question was a 28-7 deficit the Blue Bears (0-3) fell into early in the second quarter. It left their defenders a long way from happy.
“We weren’t settled in,” defensive end Wesley Jackson said. “Our alignments weren’t right. We’re switching to a new scheme (under new defensive coordinator Sherman Simmons) and trying to make progress in the right direction. Once we got settled in, we played a lot better.”
Livingstone has allowed 161 points in three games, so a strong second-quarter and second-half showing was encouraging. “It’s frustrating,” said freshman linebacker James Franklin. “Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t be doing. We know better. We should be winning games. This one we had right in our hands and let it slip away.”
LC received another top-shelf performance from 17-year old quarterback Drew Powell, a freshman from Upper Marlboro, Md. Already a two-time conference Rookie of the Week, he passed for 295 yards and three touchdowns and ran for Livingstone’s two other scores.
“This offense is definitely a sight to see,” Powell said afterward. “But it has little to do with me or the players. It’s the system. The players just make the system better. It’s so effective, so unstoppable.”
Credit offensive coordinator Darryl Williams with installing a set that will surely lead the Blue Bears to respectability. They’ve already scored 12 touchdowns this season – one shy of the 2011 team’s 10-game total. “They made it nerve-wracking,” said winning coach Brad Bernard. “We were never sure of anything. That new quarterback they have is a great athlete. And Coach James is doing a great job with the limited resources he has.”
It hardly mattered after LC trimmed the gap to 28-21 when Austin Higgins reeled in his second TD catch of the afternoon late in the first half. The Blue Bears regained possession with 2:04 on the clock and were inching forward when Powell hit freshman Jalen Hendricks (6 receptions/92 yards) on a short crossing pattern across the middle. But disaster struck when the ball wriggled free and EW’s Bertra Balfour scooped it up and rumbled 15 yards into the end zone, giving the guests a 35-21 halftime lead.
“From my view it looked like an incomplete pass,” Powell said. “So everybody kinda stood around, waiting for the whistle. Then he just picked it up and ran it in. We were planning on scoring again on that drive and tying the game up. That play hurt us.”
Livingstone pulled within a touchdown on its first drive of the second half when Powell connected with Avery Collins on a 22-yard TD pass. It was 42-28 Tigers midway through the fourth period when LC mounted its final scoring drive, an 11-play, 70-yard march that culminated when Powell scored on a quarterback sneak with 5:41 remaining. After EW was call for successive penalties on the PAT attempt, Livingstone opted to try for a two-point conversion.
“I wanted them to go for two,” Bernard said. “Because I wanted to stop them right there.”
Instead, LC wideout Montoria Hood took a handoff and scored on a sweep to the left side, bringing the Blue Bears within six points. Their final possession stalled when Powell threw an interception with 1:13 to play.
“It’s still early in the season,” EW quarterback Brandon Turman said after passing for 191 yards and three TDs. “They have time to fix what’s wrong. They’re going to be all right.”