Livingstone making long trip to Kentucky Wesleyan this week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

By Dennis Davidson

SALISBURY — Livingstone, still smarting from last Saturday’s season-opening, 28-15 loss at Benedict, takes a long road trip this week to Owensboro, Ky.

The Blue Bears hope to get into the win column for the first time in 2017, taking on the Kentucky Wesleyan College Panthers, the first-ever football meeting between the two schools. KWC is a Division II member, playing in the Great Midwest Conference. The game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Calling the trip a long one is not an exaggeration. Owensboro is nine hours from Salisbury and the Kentucky Wesleyan campus is 2 1/2 miles from the banks of the Ohio River. Cross the river and you’ll be in Indiana.

“Kentucky Wesleyan lost some good players to graduation,” Livingstone head coach Daryl Williams said Tuesday. “It should be a competitive game, but it is a long trip. We’ll leave Thursday night, so Friday can be a normal day for the players.”

Williams also revealed on Tuesday that sophomore quarterback Xavier Longerbeam, the starter against Benedict, suffered a concussion last week and will not play this Saturday.

Another sophomore, Thaddeus Bell, who came on in relief of Longerbeam, will start against Kentucky Wesleyan. Against Benedict, Bell completed just six of 12 passes for 67 yards, but after a dismal first half, the team did seem to respond to him. Bell also had a crisp 31-yard TD pass to receiver Everett Ransom.

“Bell looks ready to embrace this opportunity,” Williams said of the 6-2, 220-pounder from Duluth, Ga.

As far as the Benedict loss, Williams said that the game swung on two plays: Running back Jarius Richardson losing possession of the ball as he was about to break the plane of the end zone; and return man Gregory Hines’ fumble at his own 10-yard, the ball ending up in the end zone and recovered by the Tigers for a score.

“That’s a 14-point swing, any way you look at it,” said Williams. “The kids played hard, but we had to address some issues of tackling and finishing plays. And we were a little slow adjusting to the speed of the game. There wasn’t any hollering and screaming at halftime … I just told them to catch up to the speed of the game.

“But hey, Benedict was better team than we saw in 2015 and last year,” continued Williams. “Give those guys credit. They did a good job of recruiting some better players down there.”

Richardson rushed for 72 yards against Benedict, 49 on the near-touchdown run. Ransom had four catches for 58 yards.

Hines and Elems Ukwu had interceptions for the Livingstone defense and lineman Armond Cox led the squad in tackles with five.

Kentucky Wesleyan (0-1), also opened last week, playing a level up and losing at Murray State, 67-7. KWC was out-gained 457 yards to 159 (129 passing and 30 rushing).

Quarterback Mike McGee, a 6-5, 185-pound sophomore, threw four interceptions for the Panthers last week.

KWC was 3-8 last year and had one common opponent with Livingstone — Davidson. Both teams lost to Davidson, the Panthers losing 35-21 and Livingstone falling to the Wildcats, 38-12.