Time for the Blue Bears to bounce back from defeat
SALISBURY — No one else did, but Livingstone head coach Daryl Williams says he saw last Saturday’s 59-21 pounding at Elizabeth City State coming.
“We had a bad week of practice,” Williams said. “We were primed for a good whupping — and we got it.”
The Blue Bears got buried by 295 rushing yards by the Vikings. It was old-school football. The Vikings dominated the line of scrimmage and had their way.
“They were bigger, older and stronger than us,” Williams said. “Give them credit. They beat us. We weren’t focused and we weren’t ready to play. They ran the football, and we didn’t have an answer.”
Livingstone was only down 14-7 late in the first half, but the Vikings scored twice in the last 89 seconds of the second quarter, and that was that.
The good news for Livingstone fans is the Blue Bears are 4-1. If you’d told Williams before the season his team would be 4-1 as it prepared for the homecoming game at Alumni Memorial Stadium with St. Augustine’s, he would have taken it in a heartbeat. Saturday’s game starts at 1:30 p.m.
Livingstone should’ve won on homecoming last season, but the Blue Bears dropped a 34-31 decision to Fayetteville State.
“We’ve got that game won and then I see a fumble bouncing right in front of me,” Williams said.
The fumble remains the Blue Bears’ toughest opponent. There are 167 Division II teams, and Livingstone ranks 161st when it comes to ball security. The Blue Bears have turned it over 18 times (10 lost fumbles, eight picks) in five games. That turnover rate can make you 0-5 in a hurry. Somehow the Blue Bears had been overcoming those giveaways, but the law of averages caught up to them Saturday. Three turnovers in Elizabeth City proved devastating.
“Our fight is with ourselves,” Williams said. “We’ve got to take care of the football.”
Livingstone (1-1 CIAA) has a chance to get well against Raleigh-based St. Augustine’s (1-4, 1-1 CIAA). The Falcons haven’t scared anyone. Statistically, Livingstone has a more efficient offense than St. Augustine’s, and the defenses are comparable.
Michael Morand was named interim head coach for St. Augustine’s after longtime head coach Michael Costa was fired in September.
Livingstone, getting a boost from mobile QB Drew Powell, has quietly run the ball for 215.4 yards per game. Those are the best rushing numbers in the CIAA. They rank 33rd nationally in D-II.
Williams says the Blue Bears have performed much better in practice this week. The ugly loss got their attention. They realize there’s still a lot of work to do.
“I feel bad about how we played last week and the team feels bad, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like this team,” Williams said. “All is not lost. We’re 4-1. A whole lot of teams would like to be 4-1 right now and with all their goals for the season still intact.”
That short list of 4-1 teams in the CIAA is Winston-Salem State, Virginia Union and Livingstone.
A winning season, the driving motivation for Livingstone, remains well within reach. The Blue Bears need two more wins to secure that goal. Livingstone is 2-0 at home this season.
“There are no guarantees we’ll win,” Williams said. “But I will guarantee we’ll play better.”
Follow Mike London on Twitter at @mikelondonpost3.