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Livingstone falls to North Greenville in “second” season finale

Staff report

TIGERVILLE, S.C. — Livingstone and North Greenville combined for nearly 1,000 total yards, but the Crusaders pulled away in the second half and won the non-conference game, 35-17, here last night.

The game was a late addition on Tuesday but it did not seem to matter to either offense. Both defenses struggled, each yielding 31 first downs.

Needing another game to enhance its NCAA Division II playoffs resume, North Greenville (7-3) contracted with Livingstone to play the game. The Blue Bears (5-4) had actually turned in their gear, thinking last week’s win over Johnson C. Smith was their season finale.

Senior quarterback Drew Powell passed for 380 yards in his true final game for Livingstone, completing 35 of 62 passes. However, Powell did throw three interceptions, all of which ended scoring opportunities for the Blue Bears.

Powell did connect with fellow senior and prolific receiver Jalen Hendricks 11 more times, for 142 yards and a touchdown. Powell also led the team in rushing with 53 yards of 16 carries, some of which were scrambling away from the NGU pass rush.

Trailing 14-7 at halftime, Livingstone coach Daryl Williams, known for his gutsy calls, saw his team pull off a perfect on-side kick to open the second half. Four plays and 49 yards later, the Blue Bears tied the game on a 10-yard pass play from Powell to Hendricks.

After the defense got a three-and-out, Livingstone had a 13-play, 54-yard drive that only netted a 28-yard field goal from senior kicker Leo Manzo. The Blue Bears wanted more points, but did come away with a 17-14 lead with 8:08 left in the third quarter.

The tide turned almost immediately, as the Crusaders marched 54 yards in just four plays (in less than a minute) to regain the lead. T. Walker had a six-yard scoring run and NGU led, 21-17.

Walker had a 27-yard scoring dash on North Greenville’s next possession to add to the lead and the Crusaders tacked on a TD pass in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

The Crusaders’ defense really stepped up in the fourth quarter. Livingstone had three possessions but all of sudden, could not move the ball, turing it over on downs twice.

“It was tough for both teams, basically with just two practices and then play,” said North Greenville coach Jeff Farrington. “Livingstone’s a good team. They’ve got some weapons that are hard to prepare for and play against.”

Livingstone rolled up 483 total yards, but just 84 on the ground. North Greenville’s compiled 507 yards, 217 of those coming on its outstanding ground attack.

The Blue Bears managed just 17 points out of all of their yards gained, mainly because of 13 penalties for 125 yards and three turnovers.

“Yes, it boils down to our inability to capitalize in the red zone,” said Williams. “We were down there close so many times and came away with no points.

“But, hey, I’m so proud of how our players and coaches responded with a great effort, considering our short preparation time,” continued Williams. “I hate to see the season end with a loss, but we had a great run this season, winning four of the last six games.”

Williams and his team pulled out all of the stops, converting two fake punts for first downs, to go along with the successful on-side kick. The Blue Bears also had a double reverse for a nice gain and several double passes.

“It was a good time out there tonight,” said Williams.

Livingstone got on the scoreboard first with its second drive of the game.

Running back Latrell Flowers scored on a four-yard run with 5:49 left in the first quarter. The score capped an 11-play, 77-yard drive.

The key play was a 10-yard run by Flowers on a fake punt with Livingstone at its own 29-yard line. Later, quarterback Drew Powell connected with receiver Patrick Webb for 19 yards, down to the NGU 4-yard line.

Manzo’s extra point kick made it 7-0.

The Crusaders responded with a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by N. Hughes.

The Blue Bears had two more promising drives in the first half that came up empty of points. The first one ended when Manzo missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.

The other scoring opportunity went by the board with less than a minute left in the half when Powell’s pass over the middle was tipped and intercepted in the NGU red zone.

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