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Flames Stop Tornados, 56-31, in Home Opener
Timely passing and a persistent rushing attack helped Liberty open its 2014 home schedule with a 56-31 victory over Brevard, Saturday evening at Williams Stadium.
With the win, Liberty moves to 2-1 on the season. The Flames defeated Brevard in back-to-back home games, as Liberty closed its 2013 schedule against last November. Brevard falls to 0-2 on the season, following its second loss in a row to an FCS opponent.
The Flames finished the game averaging 16.0 yards per play, amassing 625 yards on 39 total offensive plays. Brevard, who finished with a 41:55 to 18:05 time of possession advantage, amassed 425 yards on its 85 total offensive plays. On the night, Liberty scored on eight of its 10 possession.
Quarterback Josh Woodrum, who completed his first 11 passing attempts of the game, finished the night 14-of-16 for 327 yards and four touchdowns. With his evening's total, Woodrum became the seventh quarterback in program history with 5,000 career passing yards.
D.J. Abnar led the Flames' rushing attack, finishing the night with a career-high 161 rushing yards on 13 carries (12.4 average yards per rush).
Zac Parker scored his first touchdown as a Flame on a 65-yard run early in the second quarter, while Todd Macon rushed four times for 50 yards and scored Liberty's final rushing touchdown of the game.
Darrin Peterson posted his fifth career 100-yard game, finishing the night with a career-best 182 receiving yards on six receptions and ninth career touchdown. Dexter Herman (three receptions, 43 yards), Gabe Henderson (two receptions, 42 yards) and Dante Shells (one reception, 38 yards) rounded out Liberty's offensive attack.
Brevard's option offense resulted in the Tornados picking up 392 of their 425 total offensive yards on the ground.
Fullback Jordan Ollis led his team with 34 carries for 168 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Tanner Wright followed with 22 rushing attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown. He also competed two of his three passing attempts for 33 yards.
For the second game in a row, linebacker Dylan Lewellyn posted career numbers, finishing the game with 16 tackles to lead Liberty's defense. Safety Jacob Hagen also had a career night, finishing the contest with 13 tackles.
Brevard's top defender was inside linebacker Jack Woerner, who finished the game with six tackles, followed by five tackles by Shed Pate, Modzelle Atkins and Jeremy Chandler.
The Flames scored on their opening possession with back-to-back rushes by Abnar. The running back scored from 13 yards out at 12:03 to put the Flames up, 7-0.
Liberty quickly got the ball back after creating the first of two turnovers in the game when Wright was tackled and lost the ball which was picked up by JaRon Greene.
Woodrum found Herman open on a 24-yard reception on the next play and Shells two plays later to double its lead. The 38-yard scoring strike to Shells pushed Liberty's lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter (8:47).
Brevard crossed midfield on its next drive only to give the ball away again when their option pitch was mishandled and Nick Newman recovered the loose ball.
The Flames kept it on the ground the entire time on the quick four-play, 47-yard drive, capped by a three-yard scoring run by Macon to extend Liberty's margin to 21-0 with 3:19 left to play in the first quarter.
Brevard was able to get its offense going on the next drive that resulted in a 14-play, 78-yard drive. Ollis finished the drive with a score from two yards out with 10:40 left in the half.
However, Liberty quickly answered when Parker got to the outside and scampered down the left sideline for a touchdown on the first play of the next drive. His 65-yard score, Liberty's longest run since 2012, put Liberty up 28-7 just 12 seconds later.
The two teams traded touchdowns during the remainder of the half. Brevard then pulled within 18 points on a 42-yard field by Ben Noboa to make the halftime score, 35-17, in favor of the home team.
Both teams opened the third half with lengthy scoring drives to keep the same margin, heading into the final quarter where Liberty was finally able to pull away the visiting team away.
After Brevard was forced to punt on the second play of the fourth quarter, Woodrum found Peterson deep downfield on a career-long 86 yard touchdown reception to put the game out of reach for the Tornados.
Both teams managed to score on their next possessions, resulting in the final score of 56-31 to allow Liberty to win its home opener for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
Ollis capped off a nine-play, 74-yard drive for Brevard to score his third and final touchdown, while Woodrum capped off his fourth career 300-yard passing game with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Henderson with 7:33 left to play in the contest.
The Flames will conclude a two-game homestand next weekend when Liberty hosts the Bryant Bulldogs as part of Hall of Fame Weekend. Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Williams Stadium on Saturday evening.
Bryant enters the game 3-0 on the year following a 13-10 upset of No. 23/20 Maine earlier today at home. The matchup will mark the first meeting in the series between the Flames and the Bulldogs.