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CIAA Football: Shaw 48, Livingstone 20

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY – It seemed like old times at Alumni Stadium Saturday afternoon – and not only because former Livingstone coach Robert Massey was visiting with the Shaw University football team.
It was because the late-season Blue Bears looked a lot like last season’s Blue Bears in a disheartening 48-20 CIAA setback.
“There really are no hard feelings,” said Massey, who coached LC through a couple of barren seasons in 2005 and 2006. “Yeah, I worked here and I got fired. But I still wanted to win every game. Just like today. We just wanted to win.”
Shaw prevailed largely because it moved the ball like it had a police escort against Livingstone (2-5, 2-2). The guests amassed 601 total yards and scored seven touchdowns in the last three quarters,
“We’ve got playmakers but we made stupid plays,” said third-year LC coach Elvin James. “We regressed today. We went backwards. We prepared ourselves all week to make it happen and it just didn’t happen.”
Sophomore linebacker Kenneth White, who was in on 13 tackles, tried to voice the team’s disappointment after Livingstone played its final home game.
“We let ourselves down,” he said. “We allowed them to beat us. We weren’t very good on third down. We gave them extra plays, extra opportunities. We were always in position to make stops, but you’ve got to make those plays.”
It was a folly-filled loss for the Blue Bears. James called it “self-inflicted” after watching SU freshman Marquise Grizzle rush for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“We actually tried to sign him,” James said with a sideways glance. “It came down to Shaw and us. But we couldn’t close that deal either.”
The Blue Bears trailed by only 14-12 after Leonardo Manzo kicked his second field goal of the game with 2:03 remaining in the first half. But things started unravelling when Shaw’s Darnell Evans returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards, setting up a quick-strike, short-field touchdown march. When Ta’Juan Brown reeled in a last-minute, 7-yard TD pass from quarterback James Stallons, SU had a nine-point halftime lead.
‘It’s been our M-O all season,” said Dorian Edwards, Livingstone’s senior leader on the defensive line. “Our mistakes are what cost us. If we can fix them we’ll be as good as any team in the conference.”
Livingstone made a game-changing mistake early in the third quarter, when sure-handed senior Anthony Holland bobbled a punt and Shaw’s David Jordan recovered. Two snaps later Grizzle bulldozed his way in from the 3-yard line and it was 28-12.
“(Holland) was prepping, trying to make a play,” Massey said. “We were fortunate on that one.”
It got worse for the Blue Bears. On their next possession, freshman quarterback Drew Powell (178 yards passing) suffered an injury following an 8-yard bootleg. Zay Laster provided a Band-Aid solution, completing a 22-yard pass to Austin Higgins before Powell returned. But on fourth-and-1 from the SU 19, running back Tevin Mishoe was dropped for a loss.
Stallons, who passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns, made it hurt when he directed an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Grizzle’s 37-yard TD romp. Then in the fourth quarter Evans returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown that gave Shaw a commanding 42-12 lead.
“Mistake after mistake after mistake,” wideout Avery Collins lamented. “That punt return, things like that. We kept making small mistakes that turned into big mistakes.”
LC never balanced its passing game with a running attack (36 net yards), especially once Shaw cracked the game open. And its defense forced four turnovers in the first half, yet wasn’t truly rewarded.
“We were our own worst enemy today,” James said. “We didn’t play sound football. We’ve seen improvement – vast improvement – but we can’t be satisfied with this.”•NOTES: Shaw (4-3, 3-1) has won four of its last five games. … Powell was sacked five times and took a post-game trip to the emergency room for dehydration. … LC recognized nine seniors in a pre-game ceremony. It closes the regular season with three road games beginning next Saturday at Winston-Salem State.

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