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LFSN 2014 Opponent Preview: Norfolk State
For the first time since the 2003 season, Liberty opens a season with back-to-back road games as the Flames will square off with the Spartans of Norfolk State at William "Dick" Price Stadium on Saturday.
Both the Flames and the Spartans enter the contest coming off season-opening losses on the road. Liberty fell, 56-29, to No. 23/23 North Carolina (FBS rankings), while Norfolk State suffered a 10-6 setback at No. 25/20 Maine (FCS rankings).
The Spartans' defensive struggle saw the two teams finish the game with less than 300 combined total offensive yards (100 for Norfolk State; 187 for Maine). The Spartans scored two first quarter field goals to take an early 6-0 lead, but only managed to cross the 50-yard line on four of their final 13 drives of the game.
Norfolk State picked up 67 of its 100 total offensive yards via its rushing attack. Brendon Riddick led the team with 34 rushing yards on 11 carries, while Malik Stokes finished the game with a team-best 12 carries for eight yards.
Linebacker Lynden Trail led the Spartans' stout defense, finishing the game with eight tackles, including four tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups. The senior received national recognition for his strong first game of 2014 when he was named the College Football Performance Awards FCS National Defensive Performer and Linebacker of the Week.
The Spartans are looking to avoid a 0-2 start to a season for the second season in a row (opened 2013 with losses to Maine and Rutgers). Norfolk State has won the last two meetings in the series, including a 31-24 victory over Liberty on Sept. 8, 2012, at Williams Stadium, the Flames' first home game under head coach Turner Gill.