College football: Long road trip for Livingstone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Livingstone lost 49-0 to Bowie State in a CIAA Opener last Saturday, but the positive side of that is that the Blue Bears aren’t likely to see anyone better than the nationally ranked BSU Bulldogs the rest of the season.

Livingstone has alternated last-second losses with blowout losses to get to 0-4 after four weeks.

The Blue Bears make their third road trip this Saturday. They’ll play CIAA Northern Division foe Elizabeth City State at Roebuck Stadium at 1:30 p.m.

It will be a haul for the Blue Bears, almost 300 miles. They’ll log a whole lot of mileage east before veering north.

Elizabeth City State’s Vikings also dropped their first three games, but they ended a long slide in a big way last week, winning at Winston-Salem State.  The Vikings hadn’t beaten the Rams in 20 years, and they accomplished that feat on a day that the Rams (0-3) dedicated the field at Bowman Gray Stadium to WSSU coaching legend Bill Hayes.

It was the first win for the Vikings over anyone since October 2019. Elizabeth City State quarterback Kevin Caldwell had an up and down day in Winston-Salem, but he came out on top. He threw three interceptions, but he also tossed two touchdown passes and ran for a score.

Despite last week’s success, Elizabeth City State resembles Clark Atlanta and Allen (those were LC’s last-second losses) more than it does Savannah State and Bowie State.

The bottom line is that Livingstone should have a chance and could pull off an upset for coach Sean Gilbert’s breakthrough win.

A key for the Blue Bears will be improving on third-down conversions. They’ve struggled in that area — 21-for-57. That’s 21 percent. They rank 154th out of 163 Division II schools.

Livingstone also hasn’t established a running game. That’s another category where the Blue Bears ranked 154th. They average 53 rushing yards per game.

Livingstone won its last meeting with Elizabeth City State, 27-16, in Salisbury in 2019.

Elizabeth City State romped over the Blue Bears 41-6 in Salisbury in 2015. The schools did not play from 2016-18. Livingstone hasn’t traveled to Elizabeth City since 2014.

Livingstone will return to Alumni Memorial Stadium to take on St. Augustine’s and celebrate homecoming on Oct. 9.

That one looks promising. St. Augustine’s is 0-2 with two lopsided losses.