Oct 6, 2009

Flames run away with decisive win

by Jeffrey Scott

The Liberty University football team trounced the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats on Saturday 45-7. In a complete reversal of game conditions from last week’s rain-soaked loss to JMU, 14,167 fans at Williams Stadium enjoyed a beautiful fall day to watch the Flames bounce back from their tough loss to the Dukes a week earlier.

On their first possession, the Flames drove down the field with two runs by B.J. Hayes and a pitch and catch from Tommy Beecher to Mike Brown for 26 yards. On the ensuing play, Brown took a direct snap 27 yards to score the game’s first touchdown and put the Flames up 7-0 at the 13:02 mark in the game.

The Bobcats were not to be outdone though, as T.J. Benners then took the kickoff to the Liberty 40-yard line, good for a 50-yard return. Quarterback Zane Zebrasky completed a 20-yard pass to the four-yard line. After two rushes for loss of yards, Zebrasky completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jon Meadows.

“We came out flat defensively,” Flames linebacker Wes Cheek told the News and Advance after the game. “That first drive, I think they took advantage of it. We weren’t ready to go. … That’s on us. As a football team, no matter the opponent, no matter what week it is, we’ve got to get ourselves ready to play.”

After a three-and-out, Liberty’s defensive back KaJuan Lee intercepted a pass from a backpedaling Zebrasky. On the next play, freshman Aldreakis Allen took a sweep from the Liberty 7-yard line and dove into the end zone. The Flames took a permanent lead at the 6:45 mark in the first quarter, going up 14-7.

“Everybody did their job. The defensive line was pushing up, doing their job,” Lee told the News and Advance. “And I did my job, which was to catch the interception. If the d-line doesn’t get a push, I don’t get an interception.”

The Bobcats continued to attack through the air with a first down completion from Zebrasky to Meadows. They could not convert on third down, though, and punted the ball away.

However, the Bobcats regained possession when Felli Teixeira intercepted a Beecher bomb at the Liberty 28-yard line, but could not turn the miscue into any points.

Zebrasky continued to link up with Meadows, and on third and 10 completed a 24-yard pass to him down the sideline. The quarter ended with the same score of 14-7.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the Bobcats turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth down pass.
On first down, Beecher threw a 21-yard pass to Chris Summers as the offense battled into Bobcat’s territory. Liberty stalled, though, and punted the ball away.

On the first play of the Bobcats’ drive, running back Julie Valentin broke a 29-yard run to the Liberty 48-yard line, their biggest rush of the game. WVW once again could not translate their momentum into any points, and punted on fourth down with 9:25 left to play in the half.

Beecher completed a 33-yard pass to Mike Brown to set the Flames up at the WVW 45 yard line. After a 15-yard facemask penalty was called on Bobcats linebacker David Allen, the Flames moved all the way to the 22-yard line. Later in the drive, B.J. Hayes took a left side handoff from the one-yard line into the end zone, and the Flames went up 21-7. The drive lasted 6 plays and went 78 yards, and ended at the 6:40 mark in the second quarter.

The Liberty defense kept up the pressure and WVW punted again at the 4:34 mark in the second. Mike Brown returned the punt all the way to the Bobcats 16-yard line, but an illegal block in the back brought the play back and the Flames started at their own 17-yard line.

On second down, Allen broke a 42-yard run and set the Flames up deep in WVW territory. Hayes rushed for 22 yards on the next play and wound up on the five-yard line. Allen then rushed in for the touchdown, his second of the day, and Liberty widened the scoring gap and went into halftime leading 28-7.

In the second half, Trey Massey and Patrick Alves of WVW gave the Bobcats a spark with a juggling catch and then broke a long run into Liberty territory. But they could not get anything else going and had to punt at the Liberty 42.

Liberty drove into Bobcats territory, as Allen rushed 30 yards to the WVW 27-yard line. Hayes then caught a swing pass to set the Flames up with a first and goal on the 8-yard line. On fourth and goal Brown took a direct snap right into the end zone for the touchdown. The Flames drove 9 plays and 80 yards, and took a commanding 35-7 lead.

At the 1:43 mark of the third quarter, running back Danny Broggin added a touchdown and put the Flames up 42-7. WVW sustained a long drive and had fourth and goal at the 1-yard line, but Liberty’s defense stopped the Bobcats with 7:34 remaining in the game. Liberty added a field goal at 4:13 to make it 45-7. Liberty maintained possession and ran the clock out to win 45-7.

Beecher completed 16 of 21 passes for 209 yards. Allen led all rushers with 112 yards and two touchdowns. Beecher hit over five different receivers throughout the game. Brandon Robinson, Chris Rocco and Asa Chapman led a stifling Liberty defense with six tackles.

Liberty improves to 3-2 on the year, and will take a week off before preparing for a Homecoming weekend showdown with Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17.

Contact Jeff Scott at jdscott@liberty.edu.

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