St. Augustine's 32, Livingstone 27
By David Shaw
SALISBURY – Livingstone’s drive for a Southern Division championship hit a minor speed-bump Saturday afternoon.
With a chance to reinforce their newborn identity and win a third straight CIAA game, the Blue Bears fell to the occasion and suffered a 32-27 homecoming day loss to St. Augustine’s.
“I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth,” senior receiver Anthony Holland said at lively Alumni Stadium, where LC fell 32-27. “As a team we didn’t execute like we should have in the first half. We dug ourselves a hole and never got out of it.”
The loss dropped Livingstone (2-4, 2-1) out of a tie for first place in the division standings and may have set off some alarms. The Blue Bears surrendered 495 total yards, had no sustainable running game (35 yards) and even misfired on a couple of extra-point attempts.
“It would have been a nice one to win,” said LC coach Elvin James. “But we were always fighting to catch up. If we had only played the whole game the way we played the second half, we might have come out on top.”
Livingstone’s first half was a 30-car pile-up. St. Aug’s (4-2, 2-1) jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead when starting quarterback Teddy Bacote spiraled a short sideline pass to Brian Richards, who used a Houdini-like spin move to escape a trio of would-be tacklers and turned the play into a 68-yard touchdown. Bacote suffered an ankle injury in the second period, but backup Alex Munro provided some lights-out relief. His 5-yard TD pass to senior Tyron Laughinghouse gave the Falcons a 16-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the half.
“We were always in position to make plays, but didn’t make them,” nose tackle Dorian Edwards said after making 14 tackles. “The best teams are able to make plays when their numbers are called.”
Nobody made better plays than Laughinghouse, who caught seven passes for 79 yards and scored three touchdowns. He began the day as the nation’s leading Division II kick and punt returner, then finished with a 175 all-purpose yards – excluding a 75-yard punt return for a TD that was nullified by a penalty in the second quarter.
“He’s an electrfying players,” said winning coach Michael Costa. “If the NFL doesn’t pay attention to him, something’s wrong. He has tremendous talent.”
James agreed. “That’s why we kept trying to kick it away from him,” he said.
Livingstone looked much more in sync in the second half. With freshman quarterback Drew Powell at the wheel, the Blue Bears drove for for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns and inched within 23-19. First came his 29-yard TD pass to Holland, who made a spectacular, diving catch in the end zone. Moments later Powell found Holland again, this time on a 16-yard rollout play. But the highlight-reel play came when punter Kristofer Hemphill completed a 34-yard, fourth-and-long pass to Brandon Bennett that extended the drive.
“Coach (Malcolm) Nelson called that,” James reported. “We call it Brutus. We’ve been holding it for the right moment.”
St. Augs cushioned its lead when Jermaine Jones blocked Hemphill’s next punt attempt out of the end zone for a safety. It ballooned to 32-19 when Laughinghouse caught a pass from Munro, corkscrewed past a couple of LC defenders and raced 27 yards into the end zone with 12:40 remaining. Livingstone answered when Powell tossed his third TD pass – this one to Austin Higgins on an 11-yard Statue-of-Liberty play with 5:05 to go.
“We finally decided to put our foot down and play better in the second half,” said LC left guard Allyne Hall. “It was just the first half that hurt us. It almost felt like we weren’t focused, weren’t ready to play. But here’s what we learned – even though we were on a 2-0 run, we can’t get big-headed. We’re not done until we get a ring.”