Livingstone hits the road down to Georgia
SALISBURY — Paine beat Livingstone 8-6 on Oct. 6, 1962, for its only victory of that season. The small school in Augusta, Georgia, closed down football operations shortly after that.
Now Paine is back in the football business. And Livingstone is back on the schedule.
The Blue Bears have no plans to allow a repeat of that victory 52 years ago.
Livingstone, flying high after last week’s rousing 46-44 comeback at Millersville, left for Georgia on Friday morning and will take on the Paine Lions at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lucy Craft Laney Stadium.
Paine made the decision to revive football in 2013 and played four games as a club team. Officially, Paine made its D-II football debut last week when it lost 28-24 to Shorter on the road in Rome, Ga.
Saturday will be Paine’s first home game since 1962. The crowd will be lively.
Livingstone is 1-0 for the first time since the Wilmont Perry glory days in 1998. So you can’t blame the Blue Bears for being excited.
Coach Daryl Williams is all about phase two of the process and doing things the Livingstone way and meeting the standard, but he couldn’t conceal his excitement at this week’s press conference.
He pushed over a laptop displaying Dr. Cavil’s HBCU Mid-Major Division Top 10 Poll, and his Blue Bears were on the screen. They’re No. 6 this week.
“I don’t know when the last time was that Livingstone was in a poll,” Williams said. “I just told the guys about it. It lets them know the work they’ve done here is being noticed. But at the same time, we were a 3-7 football team last year. We’ve got to get better. Yes, we took a stride last week, but we’re not there yet.”
Williams explained that the Paine game came about through his connection with former Paine athletic director Tim Duncan. Williams and Duncan, who recently moved on to Clayton State, are both Memphis natives and have known each other a long time.
Livingstone did some things wrong in the game at Millersville, but it survived defensive struggles and four turnovers, including one on the 2-yard line.
Livingstone also did a few things right.
CIAA players of the week Drew Powell, the quarterback, and Jalen Hendricks, the receiver, connected for five touchdowns, and the pass protection was good. The Blue Bears allowed only one sack.
The other thing the Blue Bears did was not quit when they were down three touchdowns with 10 minutes left. Livingstone finished with this sequence: TD-defensive stop-TD-onside kick recovery-TD-defensive stop. That got it done.
“It looked pretty dark,” Williams said. “But we didn’t stop believing.”
Livingstone came out of its opener without a major injury and in good spirits.
“We’ll correct some things,” Williams said. “The best time to correct things is after a win. That’s when players listen best.”
Williams barked at a late-arriving player prior to his press conference because the coach believes attention to detail makes the difference between wins and losses.
“No matter how small it is, it all matters,” Williams said. “Everything matters.”
Livingstone improving to 2-0 would matter a great deal, and it could happen.
NOTES: Williams plans to look at Augusta National Golf Club. … Livingstone’s first home game is Sept. 20 against Virginia-Lynchburg. … Paine will compete in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a league that produced Pro Football Hall of Famers Deacon Jones, Bob Hayes, Rayfield Wright, Larry Little, John Stallworth and Shannon Sharpe. The league includes Tuskegee, Albany State, Morehouse, Kentucky State and Fort Valley State.