Oct. 21, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Last week is last week. There's nothing that can be done about it now.
That's the mantra the Fayetteville State Broncos are living by this week as they prepare for their first road game in nearly a month when they travel to take on CIAA Southern Division foe Livingstone at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Salisbury.
"You can't do much about what happened at the end of the game last week," says Broncos head coach Kenny Phillips. "You just have to put it behind you and move on to the next football game."
But it's tough not to think about what might have been. Ahead by as much as 29-7 early in the third quarter after Simeon Marshall returned an interception for a touchdown, Fayetteville State let a two-touchdown lead slip away in the final 5 minutes to fall 35-29 to Shaw on Homecoming last Saturday.
The loss dropped the Broncos (2-5) to 2-2 in the CIAA's Southern Division, which was clinched by unbeaten and nationally ranked Winston-Salem State after it drubbed Livingstone (1-6, 0-4).
"You can't do much about what happened at the end of the game last week. You just have to put it behind you and move on to the next football game."
FSU coach Kenny Phillips
The loss of Lyles, a Preseason All-American and the team's top tackler, was significant. And the Broncos will be without perhaps its best player against the Blue Bears after dislocating his wrist last week.
"It's a whole different ballgame when you lose somebody who back there gets everybody lined up," Phillips says. "He's the quarterback of the secondary."
Despite the adversity, Fayetteville State still finds itself with three league games remaining on its schedule and a chance to finish at least .500 for the ninth time in Phillips' 12 seasons at the helm. With Shaw in rear view mirror, it's time to move on.
"It's been a tough pill to swallow but you have to get it out of your system and get it over with, and the only way you do that is the line up and practice and get ready for another football game," Phillips says.
And so the Broncos get set to face off against Livingstone, which won its first game in three years when it beat Virginia University of Lynchburg 24-21 in overtime on Sept. 24. The Blue Bears, despite narrowly missing a second victory when they lost 14-13 to Edward Waters on Oct. 8, are struggling mightily again this season.
Livingstone, which averages just 113.4 total yards of offense per game, is down to its third-string quarterback, Craig Murdock, who has completed 3 of 10 passes for 5 yards this season, because of injuries to the top two QBs on the depth chart. Jamel Moore leads the team in rushing with 117 yards on the year, but he averages just 2.1 yards per carry.
Still, Phillips and the Broncos are wary of a Blue Bears team that will be celebrating its Homecoming on Saturday.
"We have to go over there and play them for their Homecoming, and I'm sure they look at the film and feel quite sure like this is a winnable game for them," says Phillips. "We have to go out there and perform like we're capable of, and in the end, we have to be able to put a team away."
And it's not like the Broncos don't have the players to do just that. Sophomore Colon Bailey (Manteo, N.C.) continues to mature as the starter out of backfield, rushing for a career-high 148 yards against Shaw. He has scored five touchdowns in the last two games, but needs to overcome the pain of fumbling on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage in overtime last week.
"Colon did a great job running the football, but unfortunately a great performance had to be remembered because of one play. That's the sad thing about it," says Phillips.
"But he's acquired a little more patience and is allowing the offensive line to develop the blocks. He's able to read off those guys' blocks."
Fayetteville State still possesses an aggressive, attacking defense that continues to come along, with star linebacker Marcos Esquivel (Sr., Kearney, Ariz.) and freshman linebacker Steven Moore (Chapel, Hill, N.C.) taking turns disrupting opposing offenses. The Broncos understand that they must keep grinding away, and good things will happen.
"The biggest thing is not so much what they do, but what we do," Phillips says of playing Livingstone. "We've got to make plays when it's time to make football plays and get off the field. We have to worry more about what we're capable of doing and not worrying about what Livingstone does. We feel like if we can go out and play our game, then we can take care of a lot of situations.
"We have to keep practicing. That's why you keep going out there practicing each week -- so you can get that last game out of your system. If you keep worrying about what happened last week, you're going to feel even worse this week."
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