COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Livingstone-Virginia State preview box
LIVINGSTONE (1-3, 0-1 CIAA) at VIRGINIA STATE (3-1, 0-1 CIAA)
Rogers Stadium, Ettrick, Va. — Today, 6 p.m.
Live stats and video available at www.govsutrojans.com
COACHES: Livingstone — Daryl Williams’ record is 14-19, in his 4th season. Virginia State — Reggie Barlow is in his first season. Prior to that, Barlow was head coach at Alabama State, compiling a 48-42 record in eight seasons. He led the Hornets to three SWAC title games.
LAST WEEK: For the second straight game, Livingstone fell behind early, and trailed Chowan, 27-0, at halftime. The Blue Bears fought back in the second half, but fell at home, 41-13, in its conference opener. Virginia State, after starting the season 3-0, lost at Winston-Salem State, 35-14, in its first CIAA game.
SERIES: Virginia State leads, 19-9. The last meeting was in 2010, a 30-6 win by the Trojans in Ettrick, Va. The first game was in 1975, a 13-7 Livingstone win. The last time the Blue Bears won in the series was in 1998 (42-29).
WORTH MENTIONING: Virginia State coach Reggie Barlow played in he NFL for eight seasons and was a member of the Tampa Bay when the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002. He led the NFL in punt return yards in 1997, playing for Jacksonville.
WATCH FOR: Coach Williams has decided to start red-shirt freshman Xavier Longerbeam will start for the second straight week at quarterback for the Blue Bears. Longerbeam passed for only 138 yards against Chowan, but completed 61 percent of his passes and did not throw an interception.
Running Jarius Richardson is fifth in the CIAA in rushing yards with 337 on 62 carries. He averages 5.4 yards per carry, that margin helped by last week’s 70-yard TD romp. Wide receiver Everett Ransom is third in the conference with 26 catches for 342 yards.
As a team, Livingstone ranks seventh (out of 12) in the CIAA in total offense, averaging 302 yards per game. However, the Blue Bears have only been able to turn those yards into 14.8 points per game, thanks to their red zone issues.
The Trojans average 325 yards per game, the majority of that coming on the ground. The Trojans lead the CIAA in rushing, 230 yards per game, but are last in the CIAA in passing with just 95 yards per game. Running back Kavon Bellamy is the horse for the Trojans, with 370 yards on 70 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per play.
The Trojans’ quarterback is Tarian Ayres, who has been very efficient for a non-passing team. Ayres, a 6-1, 200-pound senior, has completed 40 of 78 passes and is yet to throw an interception.
On paper, Virginia State and Livingstone are the top two defenses in the CIAA, respectively. The Trojans, ranked first in defense, has allowed just 240 yards per game. Livingstone is second at 306 yards per game.
“It should be a good matchup,” said Williams. “We know that they run the ball about 70 percent of the time, so the challenge is for our defense to stop them. And they have a very good defense, near the top in all of NCAA Division II. They will try to control the game with their defense and running game. It will be a real good test for us.
“But we’ll be ready,” continued Williams. “We’ve just got to get our guys to focus on effort and have the skill position players to not be so careless with the football.”
Williams was referring to Livingstone’s minus 12 turnovers. The Blue Bears have lost seven fumbles and thrown seven interceptions.