College football: Livingstone set to play at tough Fayetteville State

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Livingstone’s defense has made strides and definitely has had its moments.

The Blue Bears have played well defensively in losses the past two weeks to Shaw and Winston-Salem State.

It may come as a surprise that while the Blue Bears (1-7, 1-4) have struggled to win games, they are now ranked 11th nationally in total defense — a stat which measures yards allowed.

The bad news is Livingstone plays Saturday at CIAA rival Fayetteville State (6-1, 5-0), which has an even stouter defense. The Broncos rank third nationally in fewest yards allowed. They’ve held opponents to 214 yards per game, about 50 fewer than LC has.

Kickoff at Jeralds Stadium is at 2 p.m. It’s Military Appreciation Day.

The biggest problem for Livingstone is expected to be Keyshawn James, a 6-foot-3, 280-pounder who plays defensive end for the Broncos. James leads the CIAA in tackles for loss (24) and sacks (11). He’s been named CIAA Defensive Lineman of the Week three times, including the last two weeks. He had two sacks and forced two fumbles last Saturday at Fayetteville State pummeled St. Augustine’s in Raleigh.

FSU quarterback K’hari Lane also was good last week, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos averaged 8 yards per play, so LC’s defense will be tested.

While Livingstone will conclude the season next week when it plays Johnson C. Smith on the road, Fayetteville State, which hasn’t lost since falling to Wingate back in September, is expecting to move on to bigger things. A win over the Blue Bears would clinch the Southern Division title for the Broncos, who appear headed for the CIAA championship game for the fourth straight year.

The CIAA championship game will be played in Salem, Va., on Nov. 13. Bowie State, which has beaten FSU in the last two CIAA titles games, is expected to provide the opposition for the Broncos again.

Livingstone is given a 1 percent chance of winning Saturday’s game by the Massey Ratings. The Blue Bears are 27-point underdogs.

Fayetteville State has a couple of local players. North Rowan grad Jacob Young is the punter and kicks PATs, but not field goals. North Rowan alum Ben Caldwell has played on the offensive line for the Broncos.

Fayetteville has won four in a row against the Blue Bears. FSU won 32-0 when the teams played in Salisbury in 2019. FSU won 45-7 in 2018, the last time it hosted Livingstone.

Livingstone’s last triumph in the series was an exciting 42-35 decision in 2015. Drew Powell provided most of the magic in that one with 364 passing yards, and Livingstone put up more than 500 yards of offense.