Livingstone has nine turnovers in 41-6 loss to ECSU
SALISBURY — Daryl Williams knows football, so he must know that Livingstone is in a bit of trouble.
Yet the third-year coach viewed Saturday’s rain-soaked, 41-6 CIAA loss to Elizabeth City State not so much as a stop as another chance to go.
“This game is no indication of what kind of team we are,” he said after the Blue Bears (1-2, 0-2) were crushed before a sparse crowd at Alumni Memorial Stadium. “We’re better than this. The good thing is it came against another Northern Division team and doesn’t really count toward our goal.”
It still counts in the standings — and so do the nine Livingstone turnovers that made it all go down easy for ECSU (3-1, 1-1). A week after suffering a 45-17 conference loss at Bowie State, the Blue Bears essentially beat themselves in this one.
“It’s impossible to win a game with nine turnovers,” quarterback Drew Powell said after throwing four interceptions. “At least seven of them were due to weather conditions. There were so many mistakes. After a while it all runs together in your mind.”
The field was spongy at best before an Old Testament downpour in the second quarter turned it into a marshland. That didn’t stop the visiting Vikings from capitalizing on nearly every Livingstone miscue.
“It shows we can play in adverse conditions,” winning coach Waverly Tillar said. “We did a good job scheming and confusing them. And despite everything, the kids stayed with the gameplan.”
That plan must have included stealing everything but Livingstone’s lunch money. After driving 49 yards for a touchdown on its third possession, ECSU forced two turnovers that led to scores and an early 21-0 lead.
“Once they got their first TD, the mistakes just started piling up,” Williams said. “We couldn’t stop the flood. In my 19 years of coaching I’ve never seen anything like this.”
It got worse in the second quarter, when LC running back Jarius Richardson fumbled and ECSU’s Fuquonn Thompson recovered at the Livingstone 2-yard line. Four snaps later it was 27-0.
“It was pretty hard to run plays, pretty hard to plant your feet,” Richardson said after splish-splashing for 116 yards. “But we can’t complain. They had to play in the same conditions and they played a good game.”
The lead bulged to 34-0 early in the third period following Powell’s third interception. The touchdown came on a 42-yard pass from quarterback Daquan Neal to wideout Montario Hunter — on a ball that was tipped by LC defender Kevin Williams before settling softly into Hunter’s arms.
“That’s what kind of day we had,” said Coach Williams. “It could have been an interception. Instead he tips it and it falls right into the other guy’s hands.”
The Vikings scored again on their next possession before Livingstone finally got on the board in the fourth quarter. Powell steered the Blue Bears 89 yards in seven plays and wobbled a 13-yard touchdown pass to William Tatum with 9:46 to play. Key calls included Richardson’s 47-yard rumble on first down from the LC 11 and a pass-interference penalty against Elizabeth City midway through the drive.
“We just gave up field position too quickly,” Livingstone defensive back Danny Robinson said after making nine tackles and recovering a fourth-quarter fumble. “We gave it up right away and put our backs against a wall. We try to practice bending but not breaking, but today we broke.”
Williams, ever the optimist, insists staring down the barrel of an 0-2 conference start isn’t reason to worry.
“All is not lost,” he said afterward. “All of our goals are still intact. The Southern (division) championship still runs through Salisbury because everyone has to come here and play us. Still, in my wildest dreams I never thought we’d turn the ball over nine times. It was just a bad day to play football.”
Especially for the Blue Bears.
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