Nov 11, 2008

Flames capture second-straight BSC crown

by Chris Wong

The Flames defense started out strong, forcing a three-and-out on the Keydets’ opening possession. However, senior Big South rushing leader Rashad Jennings coughed up the ball on the Flames first play from scrimmage, and it was recovered at the Liberty 38 by VMI. Undaunted, the Flames defense stepped up again in the opening minutes, forcing the Keydets to turn it over on downs after a fumble on 4th-and-1.

After trading possessions for most of the first period, the Flames found the end zone first when senior quarterback Brock Smith rocketed a 53-yard pass to Michael Brown putting seven on the board with 5:16 on the clock.

“They play a lot softer coverage, a lot of height with their corners and with their safeties.

We needed a lot of distribution plays going on,” Rocco said.

After a completed 38-yard field goal attempt by VMI, Dominic Bolden ran a kick return 31 yards to the Keydet 38-yard line. Later in the drive, Smith bootlegged a handoff to Jennings and threw to an open Corey Rasberry for a 19-yard touchdown pass to end the quarter with a 14-3 Liberty lead.

Liberty needed just three plays to add to its lead in the first drive of the second quarter. Smith first completed a 34-yard pass to Rasberry and then an eight-yard pass to Bolden out of bounds, followed by a 32-yard touchdown run by Jennings as the Flames increased their lead to 21-3.

“We certainly had a way to play these guys throwing the ball and had a plan in place to be able to change the tempo of the game if need be,” Rocco said.

VMI fought back into the game with 12 unanswered points to end the first half. After the defense forced a safety, the Keydets marched 46 yards in eight plays before punching it in for the touchdown and closing the gap to 21-12.

VMI picked up where it left off in the first half, marching 90 yards in eight plays before capping the drive with a touchdown to bring the score to 21-19. The Flames answered in their next possession with a 10-play drive that culminated in a Brock Smith one-yard touchdown scamper.

“We had the momentum, and we used it to get ahead,” Smith said.

With the fourth quarter underway neither team was going to give up. In Liberty’s second drive of the fourth quarter Smith completed a 27-yard pass to Bolden out of bounds to the VMI 33 yard line. Both Jennings and Smith brought the Flames within goal range with two-yard rushes, but they could not capitalize in the red zone. Ben Shipps’ 24-yard field goal increased the score to 31-19. VMI answered back with a four-yard rush by Jones making the scoring 31-26. Jones ended the game with 98 yards and two touchdowns, while Jennings rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Jennings scored his final touchdown of the night after VMI went offsides and the ball was placed on VMI’s 36 yard line. Jennings took the ball 36 yards for a touchdown leaving the final score of the game at a 38-26.

“We’re going to do what we’ve done best all year long, and that was the ability to run Rashad,” Rocco said.

The Flames will play the two remaining games at home, facing Gardner-Webb on Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. before hosting Elon the following weekend.



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