Sep 12, 2006
Flames football incinerates GSC at home
by David Thompson
Liberty came out firing on all cylinders in the follow-up to Head Coach Danny Rocco’s Liberty debut.
In the first half of the game, the Flames nearly matched their entire point total from last week’s domination of St. Paul’s College. Liberty exited the half leading by a score of 24-0.
Rashad Jennings showed that last week’s performance was no fluke, putting up numbers very similar to Liberty’s last game, which was also his Flames debut.
He rushed for 161 yards against Glenville State College, scoring, all three of the Flames first-half touchdowns.
“Stat-wise, I don’t try to pay any attention to that,” Jennings said. “As long as we get that ‘W,’ that doesn’t matter.”
The first player since Liberty alumnus Samkon Gado to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games, Jennings was quick to give credit to whom it was due. “I give all the glory to God,” he said.
Fans looking for a repeat performance of last game’s shutout very nearly got one as Liberty’s red-zone defense seemed like a brick wall and neutralized most of Glenville State’s scoring opportunities.
Highlighting Liberty’s defensive effort was a spectacular rundown by defensive captain Manny Rojas.
“I will show one play to the whole football team on Monday: Manny chasing that guy down. That says it all,” said Rocco.
GSC quarterback Michael Williams completed a pass to Da Mon Lindsey, who avoided a tackle, and looked to have a sure touchdown. Rojas, with an astonishing burst of speed, came from behind him and dragged him down at Liberty’s six-yard-line.
In the first-and-goal situation, the Pioneers threw an incomplete pass, rushed for no gain, and threw another incomplete pass, finding themselves facing a fourth down. Instead of attempting a field goal, Glenville State did what they had done all night — attempted a fourth-down conversion.
They were successful, erasing the chance for Liberty’s first consecutive-shutout streak since 1974.
The Pioneers would not score again, and Liberty finished strong, winning by a final score of 31-7.
“I wanted [the shutout] bad,” said Stevie Ray Lloyd, whose interception in the first quarter served as one of only two turnovers by GSC, the other coming on a failed fourth-down conversion.
Improved from last week was the kicking game, which performed flawlessly, converting all four attempted extra points, as well as a field-goal.
The special teams defense was also impressive, blocking Glenville’s only attempted field goal. “I think a lot of times, the heartbeat of the football team is out there on the special teams,” said Rocco.
The Flames passing game also showed some life that was not there last game, due to the wind and rain. “The weather was night and day,” said quarterback Brock Smith.
Smith’s longest pass was 21 yards, and his average was around 10 yards-per-completion.
Referring to the lack of intermediate passing Smith said, “There’s plenty of stuff we need to work on, during the week... they were coming out in a lot of coverages we didn’t like.”
Perhaps most perplexing for Liberty fans was the seeming lack of momentum that carried from the first half to the second.
The team was limited to one touchdown in the second half, after scoring three plus a field goal in the first half.
“I wasn’t going to leave the (first string players) out there tonight, midway through the third quarter, and I wasn’t going to do it last week, either. I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” said Rocco.
“What we’re trying to do in the second half is really to get the second team experience,” Smith said.
Jennings, like last week’s game, saw very little action in the second half. “I get better as I go… I’m looking forward to (playing later in the game),” he said. To put it in perspective he added, “I’d rather not be in there, that means the score looks like this.”
Next Saturday Liberty begins a road trip that features games against Towson, Savannah State, and concludes at Wake Forest, Liberty’s only Division I-A opponent this season.
The Flames are off to their best start since 1997, when after starting out 2-0, Liberty finished with a 9-2 record.
Contact David Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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