Oct 21, 2008

Flames fall prey to Leopards 35-21

by Adam Palmer

The Liberty Flames suffered a startling defeat at the hands of the Lafayette (Pa.) Leopards on Saturday as 15,483 fans, the second-largest crowd in the history of Williams Stadium, witnessed the Flames fall 35-21. The loss snaps an 11-game winning streak overall as well as an 11-game home winning streak.

“Nothing really went our way,” head coach Danny Rocco said. “I think in a lot of ways we were our worst enemies today.”
The Flames defense initially picked up where it left off last week, stopping the Leopard offense and forcing a punt. As senior Dominic Bolden attempted to field the kick, he muffed the ball and it was recovered by Lafayette at the Liberty 36-yard line.

“In my mind I will always feel like that play changed the game,” Bolden said.

Bolden redeemed himself on the Flames next offensive series. After catching a screen pass on second down, Bolden cut through the middle of the field, making several cuts and slashes on his way to a 60-yard, game-tying touchdown. He finished the game with 160 receiving yards.

The two teams traded possessions for much of the quarter before Lafayette return man Shaun Adair returned a punt 63 yards, giving the Leopards good field position. DeAndre Morrow found the end zone two plays later, running six yards for the touchdown.
After kicker Matt Bevins missed a 47-yard field goal, the Lafayette Leopards engineered an 11-play touchdown drive, pushing the score to 21-7.

The Lafayette defense seemed to be prepared for the Big South rushing icon Rashad Jennings and effectively contained him through the majority of the first half.

That’s when the 6-foot-1-inch, 230 pound running back showed his speed, and left the Leopard defenders with no answer on his 58-yard touchdown run, which drew the Flames to within seven points.

Lafayette responded late in the second quarter, marching 70 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown in a drive that took just three minutes. Leopard quarterback Rob Curley found receiver Tim Watson for a 19-yard score to increase the Lafayette lead to 14.

The Flames were unable to move the ball offensively as they opened the second half and were forced to punt after just three plays. Lafayette linebacker Andy Romans, who made his presence felt with 12 total tackles, including two for loss, made the play of the game for the Leopards as he blocked the punt and recovered it before sprinting 15 yards for the touchdown.

Rocco said he was “very disappointed” with the special teams performance in the contest.

“I thought going into this game we would have a potential edge there,” Rocco said.

The Flames were uncharacteristically deficient in their red zone opportunities throughout the contest. On two separate occasions, the Flames had first and goal inside the 5-yard line and were unable to come away with points.

Offensively, the Flames also struggled to sustain drives, scoring the majority of their points on big plays from Bolden and Jennings.

The Flames will look to rebound against conference foe Charleston Southern on Saturday as the university welcomes alumni for homecoming weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

 


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