College football: Livingstone at home vs. stout Bowie State team

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — On a late September Saturday seven years ago, Livingstone beat Bowie State at Alumni Memorial Stadium.

Future Indoor Football legend Drew Powell put the ball in the air 43 times on that auspicious afternoon, throwing for 329 yards and four touchdowns. The Blue Bears got a field goal from Leonardo Manzo on the final snap of the game and beat the Bulldogs 36-33.

Of course, the Bulldogs, who will visit Livingstone at 4 p.m. on Saturday, are a completely different animal now. They were just 5-5 in 2014, while Livingstone went 6-4.

Bowie State has been riding on an upward trajectory since 2015 and put up quite a five-season record from 2015-2019 — 44-13 overall and 34-5 in regular-season CIAA games. Bowie State was crowned CIAA champion in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 season was wiped out by the pandemic, so the Bulldogs are still the defending champs.

It appears that Bowie State, the preseason favorite to win the Northern Division and the CIAA championship, is going to be tough for anyone in the league to handle. The Bulldogs had a competitive loss to FCS Delaware State to start the season, then beat Saginaw Valley State (always good) and New Haven the last two weeks.

Bowie State will come into the game against Livingstone, a Southern Division CIAA team, ranked 23rd in Division II.

Bowie State has a good offense led by quarterback Ja’rome Johnson, who was CIAA Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. Johnson was 27-for-35 passing for 317 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the win over Saginaw Valley State.

Still, it was Bowie State’s defense that looked scary on the road last week — five sacks, three turnovers and 16 rushing yards allowed. It was a scoreless game in the second quarter against New Haven until Bowie State broke the ice with a defensive touchdown.

Livingstone (0-3) has endured a remarkable amount of adversity for so early in the season. Livingstone fell to Clark Atlanta on a last-second field goal in its only previous home game. Livingstone was blown out at Savannah State in its second game, but made a remarkable turnaround last week. Livingstone was in position to win on the road until Allen University scored on the final snap. It wasn’t just a Hail Mary that beat the Blue Bears it was a Hail Mary, plus a lateral. That longs-odd TD tied, it and then Allen won 34-32 on a 2-point conversion.

So Livingstone has to bounce back from two crushing, last-second losses in a span of three weeks.

Livingstone hasn’t gotten its running game untracked yet, but the Blue Bears did throw the ball with authority against Allen, and it’s obvious the Blue Bears will have to throw if they’re going to move the ball against Bowie State. Lazar Anderson threw for 336 yards and three TDs against Allen. His favorite receiver was Lasirto Bryant, who had five catches for 153 yards and two TDs.

It will be a long haul for Bowie State, which is about 25 miles north of Washington, D.C., to get to Salisbury. They’ll be traveling about 385 miles and six hours down Interstates 95 and 85.