Flames D wins scrimmage

Under second-year Head Coach Turner Gill, Liberty held its annual spring game. However, the Flames were not able to tackle due to lack of depth and injuries in certain positions.

Kinks in the system — Linebacker Scott Hyland intercepts quarterback Josh Woodrum on the first play from scrimmage. Photo Credit: Kyle Milligan

On the game’s first play, linebacker Scott Hyland intercepted quarterback Josh Woodrum after the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The pick set the tone for the rest of the game, as the defense defeated the offense 56-39 in a scoring system developed by Gill.

“I’m very pleased (about) how our guys challenged each other out there on offense and defense,” Gill said. “Overall, it was a pretty good day for us.”

Woodrum led the Flames with a new receiving core, completing 10-18 passes for 85 yards. Backup quarterback Javan Shashaty followed, throwing 5-7 for 42 yards.

Receivers Gabe Henderson and Darrin Peterson and running back Desmond Rice had three catches each.

“We sustained two pretty good drives,” Woodrum said. “We stalled out at the end, but we will pick it up.”

During halftime, Gill gave out the Samkon Gado award, which goes to the most improved player of the spring on both sides of the ball. The recipients of the award were receiver Dante Shells and defensive lineman Dominique Davis.

The Flames also recognized graduating seniors and presented them with framed jerseys. Lastly, Liberty awarded defensive back Brent Vinson with the Luke 2:52 award, which is given to a graduating senior who instills the program’s whole person development effort.

During the second half, the Flames focused on a running game that featured Rice. While Liberty was not very successful on the ground, coaches and players alike were impressed with Rice’s work ethic and ability.

“He will have an opportunity — he is going to play,” Gill said. “Rice is a talented young man, (a) well-rounded running back. He can do it all. He can pass protect, catch, and he has the ability to understand the offense.”

Throughout the entire game, the defense was dialed in, making plays and key stops all over the field, including four sacks — two of which came from Davis. Defensive back Aaron Dial stayed close to the line of scrimmage and led the team with five stops.

“The defense showed some good things,” Gill said. “I’m very pleased with the way our defense ran to the football. There is some work we have to do on the offensive side of the ball, but I am
pleased overall.”

While defensive back Kevin Fogg did not have a huge role in the spring game, the Flames will bring back the first team All-American this season. Last year, Fogg suffered a broken foot that cost him the entire season.

“I feel blessed (coming back on the team),” Fogg said. “I feel like this is a second chance for me to have fun on this team and to give back. It’s all about having fun.”

Liberty still has two more practices before the end of spring training. Both of them are open to the public Tuesday, April 16, and Thursday, April 18, from 4:20 to 6:30 p.m. The Flames open their season against the Kent State Golden Flashes Thursday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m.

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