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Montana Revisited: News and Notes
Despite keeping No. 14/12 Montana's offensive numbers in check, it was mistakes that led to the Flames' 34-14 setback on Saturday inside of Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Included with today's news and notes are radio highlights from the contest courtesy of the Flames Sports Network's radio crew, plus Coach Turner Gill's postgame interview with FSN radio sideline reporter Nick Pierce.
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 Montana game:
Series with Montana:
• Last Saturday's game marked the first-ever meeting between the Flames and the Grizzlies.
• The game is the farthest west Liberty has traveled for a game since facing Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., in 1998
• It marked the first time the Flames have faced a long-standing member of the Big Sky Conference.
• The Flames have squared off twice against Cal Poly, who joined the Big Sky Conference this year.
Season Opening Notes:
• This year marks the first time the Flames have opened a season 0-3 since 2003.
• The Flames have started a season 0-4 twice in program history (1981 and 1982).
• In 1982, Liberty picked up its first victory during the fifth game of the season against Central State (Ohio), which started a seven-game winning to cap off a 7-4 year.
• In 1981, the Flames lost their first nine games of the season before preventing a winless season with a 42-23 victory over Evangel in the season finale to finish the year 1-9.
Liberty versus Ranked Opponents:
• Following the 34-14 loss to No. 14/12 Montana, Liberty is now 11-45 all-time against nationally ranked opponents.
• Liberty has now dropped six of its last seven match-ups against nationally ranked teams.
• Next week, the Flames will take on 3-0 Lehigh, who came into last weekend ranked No. 16 by the Sports Network and No. 13 in the FCS Coaches poll.
• Liberty has previously faced three nationally ranked teams in a row in program history, dropping all three during the 1993 season (L/ 30-38 to No. 9 North Carolina A&T, L/ 13-35 to No. 3 Troy State and L/ 0-42 to No. 4 Youngstown State).
Offensive Highlights from the Montana Game:
• For the third game in a row, Liberty eclipsed the 300-yard mark in total offense, finishing the Montana game with 342 total offensive yards.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty currently ranks No. 71 in the country in total offense (344.3 yards per game).
• Liberty outgained Montana in total offensive yards, finishing with 342 yards to Montana's 298 yards.
• Liberty has outgained two out of three opponents this season in total offensive (also finished with an offensive yard advantage against Wake Forest – 363 to 293).
• For the second time this season, Liberty finished with more first downs than its opponent, posting 21 first downs to Montana's 17 first downs.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty currently ranks No. 76 nationally in first down offense (17.67 first downs per game).
• 15 of Liberty's 21 first downs came from the Flames' passing game.
• Liberty has recorded 35 of its 53 first downs in 2012 via passing plays (66.0 percent) and the Flames rank No. 18 nationally in passing first downs.
• Liberty was limited to just 21 team rushing yards against Montana.
• The Flames' 21 team rushing yards are the fewest rushing yards gained by the Flames in a game since 2005, when Liberty finished with -5 team rushing yards against No. 16 William & Mary (Sept. 24).
• The Flames were held below the 100-yard team rushing mark for the second time this season and now average 94.0 rushing yards per game.
• Liberty currently ranks No. 100 out of 121 FCS programs in the country in team rushing.
• The last time the Flames had two games in a season where they did not reach the 100-yard rushing mark was in 2006.
• Liberty finished the Montana game passing for a season-best 321 yards.
• Through three games in 2012, Liberty is averaging 250.3 yards per game, ranking No. 25 in the country in passing offense.
• The Flames are nearly doubling their opponent in terms of passing offense, as Liberty has 751 passing yards to their opponent's 382 passing yards.
• Against Montana, 93.9 percent of Liberty's total offensive yards came via its passing game (321 passing yards to 342 total offensive yards).
• The Flames dominated the clock for the first time this season, finishing the game against Montana with an 8:46 time of possession advantage (34:23 to 25:37).
• Entering the Montana game, Liberty had lost the TOP battle against both Wake Forest and Norfolk State.
• The Flames held a 20:25 to 9:35 time of possession advantage during the first half, but could not convert the added possession time into points.
• The Flames were held scoreless during the first half of play for the first time this season.
• The last time the Flames went into the locker at halftime without having scored was against Elon in 2007, when Liberty dropped a 42-14 decision to the Phoenix on the road (Sept. 22).
• The Flames managed to convert on 7-of-16 third-down play and rank No. 44 nationally in third down conversions (40.82 percent/20-of-49).
• The Flames failed to pick up a first down on a pair of fourth-down plays on Saturday and are now 1-of-5 on fourth-down conversion attempts in 2012.
• The Flames committed a season-high three turnovers against Montana (2 fumbles and one interception).
• Montana turned two of Liberty's three turnovers into 14 points during the first half of the game.
• The Flames allowed a season-high five sacks by Montana.
• The Flames had only allowed five combined sacks during the first two games of the season (2 by Wake Forest and 3 by Norfolk State).
• Having allowed 10 sacks during the first three games of the season, the Flames currently rank No. 101 (out of 121 teams) in sacks allowed per game (3.33).
• The Flames outscored Montana, 14-10, during the second half of the football game.
Defensive Highlights from the Montana Game:
• The Flames held their second opponent of the season below the 300 total offensive yard mark, with Montana finishing the game with 296 total offensive yards.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty currently ranks No. 30 in total defense (310.67 total offensive yards allowed per game).
• After Montana widened its lead to 24-0 following a second quarter field goal, the Grizzlies had only tallied 89 total offensive yards.
• A 90-yard punt return by Peter Nguyen with 5:56 left to play in the first quarter was the first time the Flames had given up a single point during the first quarter in 2012.
• For the second week in a row, the Flames allowed an opponent to rush for 200 or more yards in a game, with Montana tallying 201 of its 298 yards on the ground (67.44 percent).
• Liberty only allowed two opponents to rush for 200 or more yards in 2011 (Presbyterian College and Stony Brook).
• The last time the Flames have allowed consecutive opponents to rush for 200 or more yards in a game was in 2007 (Coastal Carolina: 213 yards; VMI: 291 yards).
• For the second game in a row, the Flames held an opponent under 100 yards passing, with Montana finishing with 95 passing yards.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty currently ranks No. 15 in the country in passing defense (127.33 yards allowed per game).
• The Flames only held one opponent below 100 passing yards in 2011 (Kentucky Wesleyan with 66 team passing yards).
• The last time the Flames held back-to-back opponents to less than 100 yards passing in a game was in 2001 (Eastern Kentucky: 64 yards; Delaware State: 27).
• Liberty's defense kept Montana in check on third-down plays, as the Grizzlies finished the contest converting on 4-of-17 third-down plays.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty's currently ranks No. 36 in the country in third-down conversion defense (32.7 percent/16-of-49).
• Liberty allowed Montana to pick up a new set of downs on 2-of-4 fourth-down plays.
• Liberty's opponents are now 3-of-5 on fourth-down conversions this season.
• Montana finished the game with 17 first downs, four fewer than the Flames.
• Liberty currently ranks No. 16 in the country in first down defense (15.67 first downs allowed per game).
Special Teams Highlights from the Montana Game:
• For the second week in a row, Liberty allowed a special teams return for a touchdown.
• Last weekend, Norfolk State's Keith Jackson returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown, which broke the school record by an opponent of 82 yards (by Drew Haddad of Buffalo/1998 and T.J. Graham of N.C. State/2011).
• Montana' Peter Nguyen set a new opponent single-game return mark for the second consecutive week, returning a punt 90 yards for the game's first points midway through the first quarter.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty ranks No. 100 out of 121 teams in the country in punt return defense (opponents averaging 22.89 yards per return).
• Liberty is one of four FCS programs in the country to have allowed two punt returns for a touchdown in 2012 (Murray State, North Carolina Central and Southeastern Louisiana).
• For the first time this season, the Flames failed to average 40.0 yards per punt in a game, as the Flames finished the game with a 39.2 average punting yards.
• Montana's punting power of Stephen Shaw was excellent, as the punter averaged 49.2 yards per punt, limiting Liberty's Kevin Fogg to three returns for a total of 12 yards.
• None of the three kickoffs that freshman kicker John Lunsford kicked during the game against Montana were returned, with all three sailing into the end zone for a touchback.
• Following the Montana game, Liberty currently ranks No. 25 in the country in kickoff return yardage defense (opponents averaging 17.20 yards per kickoff return).