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Late Touchdown Give Offense Win at Spring Game
A five-yard touchdown pass from Javan Shashaty to Theo Mayo on the game's final play allowed Liberty's offense to secure a 70-52 victory over its defensive counterparts, Saturday afternoon, at Liberty's Annual Spring Football game.
During the first portion of the afternoon workout, Liberty ran a series of drills in front of several thousand fans at Williams Stadium before the offense and defense were sent to the opposite sides of the field to begin the scrimmage portion of practice.
Liberty ran 47 offensive plays, resulting in 221 yards of total offensive. A majority of the Flames' offensive damage was done through the air, as four different players combined to throw for 203 passing yards.
The Flames rushed the ball 15 times, but the seven different players who carried the ball netted just 18 yards on the ground during the afternoon.
Liberty's defenders controlled the pace of play during the first half, forcing back-to-back three-and-out series.
The Flames first of 11 first downs for the game came when 2013 Big South all-conference quarterback Josh Woodrum completed a 17-yard screen pass to running back D.J. Abnar.
Liberty mounted its best offensive push of the first half under quarterback Stephon Masha. The redshirt freshman completed 5-of-6 passing attempts for 48 yards to get the Flames' offense into the end zone. Liberty's defense was able to keep the offense out of the end zone, as the half ended on a 27-yard field goal by Shane Blanchard.
During halftime, head coach Turner Gill recognized each member of Liberty's 2013 Big South champion senior class. Each graduated senior was given a framed jersey to commemorate their time as a member of the program.
In addition, the program announced three award winners. Defensive end Cory Freeman was named the Luke 2:52 Award winner, giving to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the program's whole-person development mission.
On the second play from scrimmage during the second half, Woodrum found wide receiver Darrin Peterson open on the far side of the field. The All-Big South wideout was able to best cornerback Tyrin Holloway to score on a 65-yard passing play.
The offense and defensive units traded the lead in the coach's unique scoring system back and forth until the game's final drive.
Shashaty was given the offense at his own 35-yard line and completed 5-of-8 passing attempts for 31 yards and the decisive five-yard dart to Mayo on the game's final play.
The game-ending scoring drive was kept alive when Shashaty found Todd Macon over the middle for a six-yard pick up on a fourth-and-three play. On the game's next play, Macon was given the handoff, but instead of tucking the ball and running downfield, the redshirt freshman dropped back and completed a 26-yard passing play to sophomore Ryan McCarter to get the Flames back into the red zone.
Desmond Rice, who rushed for 967 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013, led all rushers with four carries for nine yards. Abnar matched Rice's yardage on two carries, while redshirt freshman running back Joshua Smith rushed once for six yards.
Woodrum finished the game 4-of-8 for 88 yards and a touchdown pass, followed by Shashaty's 7-of-10 day for 41 yards and the game-winning score. Masha was 5-of-9 for 48 yards in his first time under center as a Liberty Flames quarterback.
Peterson's 65-yard touchdown reception allowed him to finish the game as the leading receiver. Theo Mayo tied Peterson for game-high reception honors three catches for 15 yards.
Holloway finished as the game's leading tackler with six stops, followed by three tackles from Kenny Scott and a pair of tackles by six different plays.
The Flames will hold two more practices on Tuesday and Thursday before wrapping up their spring practice schedule.
Liberty will return to campus in late July for preseason training camp in preparation for its 2014 season opener against North Carolina on Aug. 30.
Following a second road game at Norfolk State on Sept. 6, Liberty will host its home opener against Brevard at Williams Stadium on Sept. 13. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.