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Flames Send Seniors Out with a Victory over Tornados
A pair of late touchdowns in the second quarter helped Liberty break a back-and-forth scoring battle and pull away en route to a 59-21 victory over Brevard, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium.
Prior to the game, Liberty honored its 18-member senior class. Today's victory over the Tornados gave this year's senior class its 28th career win (28-16), which now ranks fifth all-time in Liberty's record book for most victories by a graduating senior class.
The Flames' 2013 senior class includes: Walt Aikens, Aldreakis Allen, Brandon Apon, Francis Bah, Sorie Bayoh, Grant Bowden, Malcolm Boyd, Aaron Dial, Jibrille Fewell, Kevin Fogg, Cory Freeman, Peter Gagliardi, Scott Hyland, Michael Johnson, Chris Mayo, Greg Pratt, Hunter Steward and Richard Wright.
The win was Liberty's fourth in a row and upped the Flames overall record to 7-4. The loss closes out Brevard's 2013 campaign with the Tornados finishing the year with a 3-8 record.
The game was played in front of 7,554 fans, which helped the Flames pass 100,000 in total home attendance for the first time in program history. Liberty finished the year with 105,215 in total home attendance, averaging 15,031 fans over seven home games.
The game's first turnover quickly gave Liberty a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the contest. The visitors won the coin toss and elected to receive, getting the ball to their own 35-yard line before quarterback Kevin Herbst lost the football and Nick Sigmon recovered the miscue.
Four plays later, Josh Woodrum found tight end Dexter Herman open over the middle. The junior caught the ball three yards short of the goal line, but was able to carry several defenders with him into the end zone for his first career touchdown, a 25-yard reception, at the 9:26 mark of the first quarter.
A pair of sizable runs by D.J. Abnar late in the first quarter allowed the Flames to double their advantage with 1:45 left in the opening period. The first was a 20-yard run over the right guard, getting the Flames deep into Tornado territory. The second came four plays later when the junior burst up the middle to score his fifth rushing touchdown of the year from 10 yards out.
The visitors were able to cut the lead in half on the next drive, thanks to a 56-yard kickoff return by Andre Overholt, a Liberty opponent season long.
Two completed passes from Herbst quickly moved Brevard down the field. The freshman's second completion on the drive was to fullback Jordan Ollis who caught a four-yard play action pass to pull Brevard back within seven, 14-7, with 13:32 left to play in the second quarter.
The single-possession edge was short lived as Clifton Richardson carried the ball six times for 43 yards on a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive. The junior took a pitch left on the sixth carry, scoring from seven yards out for his fifth rushing touchdown of the year, pushing Liberty's lead to 21-7 at the 9:16 mark.
The see-saw scoring battle continued on Brevard's next offensive play. Kelvin Jeter ran left after a handoff and was met by Kenny Scott. However, the defensive back did not completely bring the running back to the ground and he kept running 75 yards for a touchdown, to pull Brevard back within seven, 21-14, 22 seconds later.
Woodrum responded, completing three 10-yard passing plays on a quick six-play, 71-yard scoring drive. The sophomore's third completion of the drive saw him thread a pass between two defenders to Darrin Peterson. His 28-yard touchdown reception, the seventh of his sophomore year, pushed Liberty's lead back to 14 points, 28-14, with 5:38 left to play before halftime.
A pair of three-and-out defensive stops by Liberty on Brevard's next two drives, allowed the Flames to double their advantage before heading to the locker room.
The first scoring strike was a 28-yard touchdown pass from Woodrum to Michael Johnson at the 2:51 mark for his first career touchdown, while Desmond Rice scored from five yards out with 21 seconds left before the intermission. The junior's team-leading 13th rushing touchdown pushed Liberty's lead to 42-14 following 30 minutes of play.
The Flames doubled up the Tornados during the first half, finishing with 363 total offensive yards to Brevard's 169 total offensive yards.
A majority of Liberty's yards came through its passing game, as Woodrum completed 14-of-19 passing attempts for 247 yards and three passing touchdowns. His top target was Peterson, who had five catches for 88 yards.
Richardson's six carries on Liberty's third scoring drive paced the Flames rushing attack (six carries for 43 yards).
Jeter was the game's leading first half rusher, as the Brevard running back carried the ball six times for 103 yards. Herbst completed both of his passing attempts for 31 yards.
The second half of the game was played mostly on the ground, leading to three Liberty scores and a late fourth quarter touchdown by Brevard.
Rice scored his second touchdown of the game from one yard out at the 9:02 mark of the third quarter, while Austin Kaigler capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a one yard touchdown with 3:57 left in the contest. Kaigler's scoring run was Liberty's ninth-straight scoring drive in the game (finished the game scoring on nine of ten drives).
In between the two one-yard runs, John Lunsford finished off an eight-play, 38-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal with 1:38 left in the third.
Following Kaigler's touchdown, Brevard quickly moved the ball down the field to score one last touchdown in 2013 when Jeter scored from 35 yards out at the 2:11 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Flames finished the game with 588 total offensive yards, its second highest total offensive yards output of the year. Brevard finished the game with 284 yards.
Liberty rushed for 288 yards with 172 of its ground yardage coming during the second half. Richardson and Rice led the team with 10 carries each, while Richardson led the team with 82 rushing yards.
Woodrum's first half numbers remained unchanged (14-of-19, 247 yards and three touchdowns), as Javan Shashaty managed Liberty's second half offense. The redshirt freshman completed 5-of-6 passing attempts for 53 yards.
Like Woodrum, Peterson's first half numbers stood and allowed the sophomore to be Liberty's leading receiver. Gabe Henderson followed with three catches for 55 yards, while nine other players finished the game with at least one reception.
Jeter was Brevard's leading offensive threat, finishing the game with 15 carries for 148 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Herbst was 2-of-3 for 31 passing yards with Overholt (27 yards) and Ollis (four yards) catching the two passes. Jacob McCleery was the game's top tackler, finishing the contest with 11 stops.
The Flames will travel to Charleston, S.C., next weekend to face the Buccaneers of Charleston Southern in both team's regular season finale.
A Big South title will be on the line in the game, as the Buccaneers suffered their first conference setback earlier today at Gardner-Webb (27-10).
Following the upset loss by No. 13/12 Charleston Southern, the Buccaneers and the Flames will enter the game with identical 3-1 Big South records. No. 11/9 Coastal Carolina wrapped up at least a share of the Big South title with a 46-13 win over Presbyterian College, finishing their conference slate with a 4-1 record (Coastal Carolina is at South Carolina next weekend).
Kickoff at CSU Stadium next Saturday is set for 11 a.m. The Flames hold an 18-2 series record against Charleston Southern, having won the last seven matchups.