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Norfolk State Revisited: News & Notes

September 9, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The outcome of Liberty's game came down to the final minutes for the second consecutive game, but No. 24 Norfolk State held on for a 31-24 victory over the Flames, Saturday night, inside of Williams Stadium.

Included with today's news and notes are radio highlights from the contest courtesy of the Flames Sports Network's radio crew. Due to technical difficulties, FSN was not able to record its postgame interview with head coach Turner Gill.

Throughout the season, LibertyFlames.com will run a similar feature online each Sunday, spotlighting the notable accomplishments and numbers from the previous day's gridiron battle.

News and Notes from the Norfolk State game:

Home-Opening Game Notes:
• Following the loss the Norfolk State, Liberty is now 25-14-1 in its first home game of the season.
• Coming into Saturday's game, the Flames had won nine consecutive home-opening games.
• The last time the Flames dropped their first home game of the year was to Western Carolina, 23-3, on Aug. 31, 2002.
• The Flames have now lost three games in a row for the first time since the 2006 season.
Liberty versus Ranked Opponents:
• Following the seven-point setback to No. 24 Norfolk State on Saturday, Liberty is now 11-44 all-time versus ranked opponents.
• Liberty has now lost five of its last six games against Top 25 ranked programs.
Series with the Spartans:
• Liberty is now 3-2 all-time in match-ups against Norfolk State.
• The loss on Saturday to the Spartans marks Liberty's first to Norfolk State at home.
• Prior to Saturday's setback, Liberty had been a perfect 2-0 at home against Norfolk State.
Offensive Notes:
• The Flames finished their game against Norfolk State with 328 total offensive yards, marking the second game in a row under head coach Turner Gill where the Flames have broken the 300-yard mark.
• 71.6 percent of Liberty's total offensive yards came during the first half, with the Flames racking up 235 yards during the opening 30 minutes of the game.
• The Flames had a balanced offensive attack on Saturday, finishing the game with 170 rushing yards and 158 passing yards.
• Liberty and Norfolk State matched each other, with each team recording 16 first downs.
• The Flames finished the game with eight first downs by passing plays, giving them 20 first downs via passing plays in 2012 (20-of-32/62.5 percent).
• Liberty managed to pick up a first down on 6-of-15 third-down plays against Norfolk State and now ranks No. 47 in the country in third-down conversion percentage (13-of-33/39.39 percent).
• For the second game in a row, the Flames lost the time of possession battle, with Norfolk State edging out Liberty by two full minutes (31:00 to 29:00).
• The Flames committed their third turnover of the season on offense, resulting in the game's decisive touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
• Liberty allowed Norfolk State to record four tackles for a loss of 20 total yards and Liberty now ranks No. 27 nationally in TFLs allowed per game (4.5).
• The Flames had their first failed red zone scoring opportunity on Saturday when Norfolk State battled down a pass on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard line with 11 seconds left in the game.
Defensive Notes:
• Liberty allowed Norfolk State to outgain them by 15 yards, 343 to 328, with 212 of the Spartans' total offensive yards coming in the second half.
• Norfolk State did most of its damage on the ground, rushing for 251 yards and three touchdowns against the Flames.
• Norfolk State's 251 rushing yards accounted for 73.2 percent of the Spartans' total offensive yards against the Flames.
• Liberty limited Norfolk State to 92 passing yards on Saturday, with three different players combining to complete 15-of-20 passing attempts.
• The last time the Flames held an opponent to less than 100 passing yards was Kentucky Wesleyan in 2011  (66 yards).
• The last time the Flames held a Division I opponent to less than 100 passing yards was James Madison in 2010 (78 yards).
• Following the game, Liberty now ranks No. 24 nationally in passing defense (143.5 yards allowed per game).
• Liberty kept Norfolk State from scoring during the first quarter, keeping Liberty perfect in terms of holding opponents scoreless during the first 15 minutes of the game in 2012.
• Norfolk State won the time of possession battle by two minutes thanks to a 19:54-10:06 TOP edge during the second half.
• Norfolk State had two sustained drives during the third quarter and finished with an 11:25-3:35 TOP edge during the period.
• The Flames tripled their sack total from the season opener, finishing the Norfolk State game with 3.0 sacks for a loss of 26 yards.
• Following the Norfolk State game, Liberty now ranks No. 38 nationally in sacks per game (2.00).
• Liberty allowed Norfolk State to finish the game with 16 first downs (10 rushing, 5 passing, 1 penalty).
• Liberty currently ranks No. 21 nationally in first down defense, allowing 15.00 first downs per game.
• Liberty is one of 34 FCS programs in the country who have allowed their opponents to score each time they have crossed over into the red zone.
• Liberty's opponents are 4-of-4 in red zone scoring opportunities, with all four drives resulting in touchdowns for the Flames' opponents.
• Liberty limited Norfolk State on third-down plays, as the Spartans were 5-of-14 on third-down opportunities.
Special Teams Notes:
• The Flames recorded their first special teams touchdown of the year with a 77-yard punt return by Kevin Fogg during the third quarter.
• The last time the Flames statistically had a punt return for a touchdown came last season when Bobby Partilla recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 15, 2011.
• The last time the Flames had a punt return for a touchdown that required an actual return was a 74-yard punt return for a score by Dominic Bolden against Elon in the final game of the 2008 season (Nov. 20).
• Liberty is one of 12 FCS programs in the country to have recorded a punt return for a touchdown in 2012.
• The Flames limited Norfolk State to an average of 16.0 yards per kickoff return (four returns for 64 yards).
• Following the game, Liberty now ranks No. 30 in the country in kickoff return defense (17.20 yards allowed per return).
• The Flames did finish the Norfolk State game with two special teams mishaps, both of which led to touchdowns.
• The first was an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown allowed to Keith Johnson midway through the third quarter.
• The second came on a fake punt by Norfolk State where punter Dylan Shaddix was able to complete a nine-yard pass and pick up a first down near midfield.
• Five plays later, Norfolk State completed a 16-play, 98-yard scoring drive with touchdown run to take the lead for good in the game at 25-24.
• The Flames did manage to keep the Spartans from converting on four extra point attempts during the game on Saturday.
• Liberty blocked two extra point attempts and intercepted two passes on two-point conversion attempts.