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Two inducted into Commemorative Classic Hall of Fame

Livingstone College

SALISBURY — Two college football standouts from Livingstone and Johnson C. Smith universities will be inducted into the Commemorative Classic Hall of Fame today.

Livingstone College will induct Romus Morris Jefferies, a native of Salisbury. Johnson C. Smith University of Charlotte will induct Bruce Duke.

The two will be inducted during a ceremony hosted by Livingstone tonight, the day before the historic Commemorative Classic football game Saturday. The game will celebrate the 125th anniversary of black college football in America. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Livingstone Alumni Football Stadium.

The Commemorative Classic is held each year between Livingstone and Johnson C. Smith to commemorate the inaugural game played on Dec. 27, 1892, between the two colleges on the front lawn of Livingstone College. It is the last game of the regular football season.

Jefferies graduated from Dunbar High School in East Spencer. With his natural athletic abilities, he became an outstanding football and basketball player, once scoring 45 points in a basketball game.

After graduating from Dunbar, he continued his education on a full four-year football scholarship, offered by the late J.D. Marshall, at Livingstone. He earned a starting position as split end his freshman year and became a four-year letterman.

As freshman, Jefferies scored 15 touchdowns from the hands of All American Quarterback Alfred “The Great” Tyler. Jefferies set several records at Livingstone, once running for four touchdowns in a single game.

He was named Coca-Cola Golden Helmet and Most Valuable Player and was selected to the all-CIAA team three times out of his four years at Livingstone.

After graduation in 1971, he continued his football career with the Buffalo Bills. He was inducted into the Livingstone College Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Rowan County Hall of Fame in 2003.

After his football career, he returned to North Carolina and became a business owner and operator of Hardees Food System. He currently serves as the North Carolina president of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, in which he has been involved since 1978.

He is married to Delphia Jeffries, and they have one daughter.

Duke was an All-CIAA selection in 1971 as a running back and kick return specialist. During his career, he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and had more than 1,000 kick return yards.

Playing under legendary head coach Eddie McGirt, Duke helped the Golden Bulls to 30 wins over his playing career, including a 4-1 record over the Blue Bears.

After graduating from JCSU in 1975 with a degree in business administration, Duke worked at Wachovia Corp. He retired in 2010 from All-State Insurance Co. after 25 years with the company.

Since his retirement, he has kept busy coaching youths in the Charlotte Flights Track and Field Club and is currently an assistant football coach at Independence High School in Charlotte.

The two inductees as well as the former honorees will be recognized during halftime of the Commemorative Classic on Saturday.

Other guests at the game will include Marques Fitch, executive director of the Black College Football Hall of Fame; Willie Jeffries, a Black College Football Hall of Famer; and Jacqie McWilliams, CIAA commissioner.

For more information, visit www.livingstone.edu and click on the Commemorative Classic link.

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