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Defense Controls Pace of Spring Football Game

April 13, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Jacob Hagen breaks up a pass play, continuing Liberty's defensive dominance during its annual spring football game.
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Spring Game - Offensive Stats

Spring Game - Defensive Stats

An interception by Scott Hyland on the first scrimmage play of Liberty's 2013 spring football game set the tone for a defensively controlled practice, Saturday afternoon.

During the first portion of Liberty's annual spring football event, Liberty ran a series of drills in front of the Williams Stadium crowd before the offense and defense was sent to the opposite side of the field to begin the second half of practice.

During the scrimmage portion of the day, Liberty ran a total of 42 plays where the offense was able to gain roughly 97 yards and six first downs (one rushing, five passing). Using a unique scoring system, Liberty's defensive unit was named the winner, 56-39.

On the first play of the afternoon, 2012 Big South Freshman of the Year Josh Woodrum's pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and pulled in by Hyland before the rising senior linebacker hit the ground.

Woodrum's next two pass attempts did not find their intended receivers, but after the Roanoke, Va., native found Canon Smith over the middle for a 10-yard gain, he completed his next seven passes in a row.

On the day, Woodrum completed 10-of-18 pass attempts and finished with 85 passing yards. Redshirt freshman quarterback Javan Shashaty followed by finishing the day 5-of-7 for 42 yards, while quarterbacking newcomer Cory Benedetto completed his lone pass attempt for eight yards.

Three different players each finished the day with three receptions apiece to lead a total of nine different players to catch a pass.

Gabe Henderson led the trio with 40 receiving yards, followed by Darrin Peterson (36 yards) and Desmond Rice (16 yards). Greg Pratt had two catches for 10 yards.

Midway through the offense set of plays, Liberty honored several current and former members of its program.

Each of Liberty's 2012 graduating seniors were recognized for their efforts during the last several years as they were presented with a framed jersey.

Defensive back Brent Vinson was the top honored senior, as he was named the recipient of the program's Luke 2:52 award. The award is given annually to the graduating senior who best embodies the program's Whole Person Development effort.

Additionally, head coach Turner Gill named his top two most improved players of the spring. This year's award recipients of the Samkon Gado award were Dante Shells (offense) and Dominique Davis (defense).

The second half of the spring game saw an increased number of rushing plays, allowing Rice to finish the day as Liberty's leading ground gainer with six carries for two yards. Liberty finished the afternoon with 16 rushes for a combined loss of 38 yards, due mostly to Flames' quarterbacks being sacked four times (combined loss of 29 yards).

Defensive back Aaron Dial finished the scrimmage portion of Saturday's event with five stops, leading 18 different players who recorded stops.

Defensive lineman Jibrille Fewell had four solo stops, including three for a loss, followed by three unassisted tackles from defensive back Joshua Yoda.

Davis showed his improved ability, finishing the day with two of Liberty's four sacks. Fewell and defensive lineman Erwin Dessources recorded the other two quarterback stops.

The Flames will hold two final practices before they close out their annual spring practice schedule. The Tuesday and Thursday workouts will run from 4:20 to 6:30 p.m. at Williams Stadium and are open to the public.

Following Thursday's final practice, the next time the Flames return to the practice field as a team will be in August where Liberty will begin to prepare for its 2013 Thursday night season-opener at Kent State on Aug. 29.

The following weekend, Liberty will return to Williams Stadium to host its first of seven home games when future Big South foe Monmouth comes to town on Sept. 7.