Oct 27, 2009

Football holds on for win at CSU

by Jeff Scott

Before Saturday’s Big South Conference game on the road at Charleston Southern (CSU), Head football Coach Danny Rocco said he wanted his team to remain focused and not to be complacent following last Saturday’s 58-13 trouncing of Coastal Carolina.

“I’ve got a very in depth course or plan of action to make sure we don’t stub our toe,” Rocco said. “It all really comes down to intensity.”

The Flames nearly stubbed its toes on Saturday before escaping with a 20-13 win over the Buccaneers, but with the help of late score, Liberty stretched its Big South Conference winning streak to 13 games.

Liberty started with defensive intensity, as a screen pass from Charleston Southern quarterback A.J. Toscano fell into the hands of Daryl Robertson for an interception. The turnover gave Liberty the ball at Charleston Southern’s 28-yard line. CSU’s defense withheld the Flames from the end zone though, as Matt Bevins kicked a 37-yard field goal to put the Flames up 3-0 with 11 minutes left to play in the first quarter.

Liberty dominated time of possession in the first quarter, but only mustered another field goal as Bevins knocked through a career high 50-yarder with 4:27 to play in the first.

Liberty couldn’t get anything going on offense, and their third field goal attempt was blocked with 13:53 left in the first half. The Flames outstanding defensive play continued as they forced another turnover deep inside CSU territory. Linebacker Ian Childress tipped another Toscano pass and KaJuan Lee corralled it in the air, giving Lee his fourth straight game with an interception. Lee returned it to the one-yard line, setting up Aldreakis Allen’s one-yard scamper into the end zone to put the Flames up 13-0 with 12:44 left in the second quarter.

On Liberty’s next offensive drive, quarterback Tommy Beecher mishandled a snap and fumbled the ball, which was picked up by CSU’s Andrew McKain, who fell on it on the 17-yard line. Once again the Flames defense came up big, and forced the Buccaneers to kick a field goal despite the great field position. Kicker John Paglia knocked through the attempt to put the score at 13-3.

Toscano led his team to the red zone on their next drive, but it stalled. Paglia attempted another field goal before the end of the half, but shanked it left of the uprights, keeping the score at 13-3 heading into halftime.

Late in the third quarter, Paglia knocked in another field goal, culminating a 10-play, 68-yard drive for the Bucs. The score drew CSU closer, at 13-6 with 5 minutes in the third quarter. Liberty still was unable to get anywhere on offense, and momentum remained with Charleston Southern late in the game.

CSU capitalized on that momentum, switching from its regular offense to a wildcat style that has become popular in the NFL. It paid dividends, as the Bucs rushed nine times in a 10-play drive that brought them all the way to Liberty’s 10-yard line. Toscano returned as quarterback, and found Kwame Krakue for a touchdown. The equalizer knotted the score at 13 with 9:01 remaining.

Beecher saved his best for last though, and pieced together a masterful drive. He converted two key third down conversions with his feet running for 14 and 11 yards, respectively. The drive brought Liberty to CSU’s six-yard line. Mike Brown then stepped in as quarterback, and rolled out to find an open Will Quarles for a touchdown with 3:40 left to play.

Charleston Southern almost completed the comeback to tie the game, but their efforts fell short. Toscano led his team to the Flames 18-yard line with 12 seconds left. But the next two throws Toscano made were incomplete, the second attempt being swatted down by Robertson, which sealed the deal for the Flames third straight win.

Beecher was Liberty’s leading rusher, tallying 33 yards on 11 carries. He also completed 16 of 20 passes for 93 yards. Brown led in receiving and caught seven passes for 56 yards. Freddie Brown had five receptions for 38 yards. On the defensive end, Chris Rocco and Doncel Bolt led the Flames in tackles, racking up 11 and 10 respectively.
The Flames will hit the practice field hard looking to avenge last year’s 31-28 loss to Presbyterian, whom they will play host to on Saturday at Williams Stadium. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.

Contact Jeff Scott at


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