Livingstone brings trophy home

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By David Whisenant | November 4, 2018 at 8:44 AM EST – Updated November 4 at 8:55 AM

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The Commemorative Classic trophy is coming back to Salisbury after Livingstone College defeated Johnson C. Smith University 20-9 at the Irwin Belk complex on Saturday.

The annual game marks the anniversary of the first black college football game played in the United States.

126 years ago, Livingstone College awaited the arrival of Johnson C. Smith University (then Biddle Memorial Institute), who traveled by horse and buggy to Salisbury to play football.

But it wasn’t just any game. That contest, held on a snowy Dec. 27, 1892, on the front lawn of Livingstone College, was the first black college football game played in America.

The annual classic game started in 2009 to celebrate the history of the inaugural game and has continued ever since.

The original Livingstone team was formally organized in the fall of 1892 and included J.W. Walker (captain); W.J. Trent (manager), who later became the longest-serving president of Livingstone; R.J, Rencher; Henry Rives; C.N. Garland; J.R. Dillard; J.B.A. Yelverton; Wade Hampton; Charles H Patrick; J.J. Taylor; and F.H. Cummings.

According to the college newspaper’s 1930 edition, team members purchased a regulation football and uniforms, and the players equipped their street shoes with cleats, taking them off after practice. The young women of the school’s industrial department made the players’ uniforms.

The official ruled in Biddle’s favor, allowing them to keep the 5-0 lead and giving them the victory.

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