SALISBURY – Johnson C. Smith University defeated Livingstone College 30-15 Saturday in the inaugural Commemorative Classic.
The game was played in Livingstone’s Alumni Memorial Stadium to a less-than-sellout crowd. The matchup initially was scheduled for Memorial Stadium in Charlotte but was moved to Salisbury after engineers found structural problems beneath the city-owned field.
Officials at JCSU and Livingstone created the Commemorative Classic to celebrate the birth of black college football in 1892. In that first game, Biddle Memorial University (later renamed Johnson C. Smith) defeated Livingstone 5-0 after a disputed Livingstone touchdown was called back by the official.
With Saturday’s win, JCSU improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the CIAA, while the Livingstone Blue Bears remained winless on the season.
The “Commemorative Classic” serves as a vehicle to acknowledge, promote and celebrate the contributions of these two institutions and recognize the historical and cultural significance of the first black college football game played in America in 1892. With the win, JCSU now leads the series 38-21-2 and they have won three of the last four match-ups.
Livingstone scored first on its opening drive, capped off with a 10-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Steven Willams to Christopher Peoples. JCSU blocked the extra point. (Livingstone had not scored in its three previous games.)
JCSU place kicker Julius Wright (Fort Worth, Texas) got the Golden Bulls on the board with a 34 yard field goal to close out the first quarter, with Livingstone leading 6-3. The Blue Bears accounted for the only other points in the first half with a 42 yard field goal by Jordan Beckham.
The Golden Bulls were in position to score a touchdown just before halftime, but junior quarterback Ryan Carter (Charlotte) fumbled as he attempted to scramble across the goal line.
The first half ended with Livingstone leading 9-3.
JCSU produced 116 yards of total offense (68 rushing, 48 passing) in the first half. Freshman tailback Dedrick Anderson (Winston-Salem) had 49 rushing yards off 12 carries and junior receiver Jeremy Franklin (Casselberry, Fla.) caught three passes for 21 yards.
The Golden Bulls took their first lead of the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass from R. Carter to senior receiver Cory Carter (Tampa, Fla.) in the right corner of the end zone. Carter connected with sophomore receiver Rico Poole (Atlanta) for a 35 yard score to put J.C. Smith up 16-10 (JCSU failed on the two-point conversion).
In the fourth quarter, Blue Bears tailback Linwood Jenkins got into the end zone off a 6-yard pitch to the right side. The extra point attempt sailed wide right and left Livingstone still trailing 16-15.
JCSU sophomore tailback Quinton Toomer (Atlanta) broke loose for two 50-plus yard carries for TDs to put the game out of reach. The first was a 60-yard sprint with 4:50 remaining, and then a 73-yard dash with 1:05 on the clock.
Toomer finished the game with 157 yards rushing off seven carries and two touchdowns. He was named the Commemorative Classic’s Most Outstanding Player, along with Linwood Jenkins of Livingstone who had 167 rushing yards. Carter completed 11 passes off 20 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Franklin finished with 45 yards receiving off five receptions and 73 yards off three kick returns.
Qcitymetro Editor Glenn H. Burkins contributed to this report.