Livingstone romps past Benedict in opener
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Livingstone’s talented offense set the tone on its first drive and the Blue Bears went on to pound Benedict, 49-6, in the 14th annual Palmetto Capital City Classic, here Saturday evening at Charlie Johnson Stadium.
Livingstone amassed 604 total yards, including 373 from the ground attack. Most everything worked, even a daring fake punt early, when the score was just 7-6.
The Blue Bears faced a fourth down-and-seven at their own 27-yard-line when head coach Daryl Williams called the fake punt. Up back Anthony Grady grabbed the snap and went 33 yards to the Benedict 40.
Livingstone rolled after that as the dynamic duo of senior quarterback Drew Powell and wide receiver Jalen Henricks connected early and often and played with confidence all day.
Running back Marcus Baisey Jr. capped the first drive (72 yards, seven plays) with a 24-yard touchdown run around the right end.
On Benedict’s first series, Livingstone had a rare defensive lapse as a cornerback fell down and quarterback Kalu Onumah connected with Okechi Ntiasagwe on a 73-yard touchdown pass. However, the Blue Bears blocked the extra point, preserving the lead.
Livingstone would score two more times in the first quarter, first on a seven-yard scamper by Powell and then, with 1:11 left in the period, on a short three-yard pass from Powell to Latrel Flowers.
With 5:31 left in the first half, newcomer Jarius Richardson, a junior transfer running back, scored on an 11-yard burst. Suddenly, it was 28-6.
Halfway through the third quarter, Richardson scored again, going in from two yards out, capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive.
Richardson ended up with 82 yards on 17 carries. It was Powell, however, who had an even bigger game and was named the game’s MVP.
Powell rushed for a game-high 125 yards on 15 attempts and connected on 16 of 25 passes for 231 yards and two scores. In all, the senior QB totaled 356 yards for the Blue Bears.
Hendricks had 10 catches for 159 yards, just another day at the office for the 2014 CIAA Offensive Player of the Year.
“Our offense was clicking early and we did a lot of good things, really like we’ve been practicing them,” said Powell. “It was a great feeling to keep pounding and adding points to the scoreboard. It was just great execution for the most part.”
Baisey scored on a 23-yard romp down the left side on a double reverse with 2:17 left in the third period to push the lead to 42-6.
Powell then hooked up with favorite target Hendricks on a 28-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter and that was about it — Benedict was pretty much done and so were the Livingstone stars who got to sit out and enjoy the final minutes.
“It was a total team effort and I’m proud of them,” Williams said after the season-opening win. “A lot of people touched the ball and I think we saw that we got some more weapons, in addition to Drew and Jalen.”
“Of course, let’s not forget about the defense — that unit played very well,” continued Williams.
The Blue Bears’ defense held Benedict to 13 yards rushing in the first half. For the game, the Tigers managed just 217 yards, 73 of that coming on their lone touchdown. Linebacker Marcus Nolan led the way for Livingstone with five tackles while newcomer Kameron Nightingale had two sacks.
Happy but not satisfied as Livingstone seeks its first winning season in 17 years, Williams said that the video tape will reveal too many penalties and other mistakes.
“They say you improved the most from week one to week two, so we’ll have some corrections to make,” Williams said. “But it was nice to get the first one and look forward to next week at Virginia-Lynchburg.”