College football: Blue Bears looking for road upset

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — The Alumni Stadium renovation project is scheduled to begin Nov. 8, so the Livingstone Blue Bears can look forward to a new blue turf playing field.

But we shouldn’t forget that there are still three CIAA football games left in this season. They’re all on the road, but the Blue Bears. who have made some strides this season under coach Sean Gilbert, should have a chance in at least two of them.

That includes this Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Winston-Salem State at Bowman Gray Stadium.

That sounds crazy because Livingstone hasn’t beaten Winston-Salem State since 1998 and has lost 12 straight meetings with the Rams, but the teams are experiencing seasons that are pretty similar. It doesn’t look like a mismatch this time. The Rams, head-coached by former LC coach Robert Massey, are a two-TD favorite over the Blue Bears, but they haven’t scared anyone.

Winston-Salem State (2-4, 2-2) started 0-4 and bottomed out with a 73-7 loss to Chowan on Oct. 2 that was the second-worst loss in program history. The Rams have gotten well the last two weeks, mostly because their schedule got easier. They beat St. Augustine’s, which hasn’t won yet, and Johnson C. Smith, which hasn’t won yet.

Livingstone (1-6, 1-3) beat St. Augustine’s for its only victory. The Blue Bears can still look forward to their rivalry meeting with J.C. Smith.

Winston-Salem beat Livingstone 21-0 in Salisbury in 2019 and also won the most recent meeting at Bowman Gray, 34-19 in 2018.

Livingstone’s defense has played well more often that it hasn’t and it contained a good Shaw team in a 20-9 loss last week.

Livingstone’s issue last week was blocked punts — two of them. It’s hard to prevail  when that happens.

Winston-Salem offers a challenge for the Livingstone defense with dual-threat QB Cameron Lewis. He’s got 250 net rushing yards, but he has thrown as many interceptions (6) as he has touchdown passes.

Malcolm Gaither, a former West Rowan standout, is the running backs coach for the Rams.

This is Winston-Salem State’s final home game. The Rams finish up with road trips to Shaw and Fayetteville State, so this is the last game they’ll be favored to win.

Livingstone edged Winston-Salem State 38-33 at Bowman Gray in 1998 for the Blue Bears’ third victory in a row in the series, but it’s been all Rams since then.

The Rams have used those 12 straight victories over LC to grab a 42-11-1 lead in the all-time series.