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Offense Shines as Flames Conclude Spring Practice with Annual Game
After a three-and-out series to open the game, Liberty's white team rolled up 395 yards of offense en route to a convincing 45-25 victory over the Flames' blue squad during the program's annual Spring Game, played in front of a record crowd of 4,388 fans at Williams Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
Using a unique scoring system, which pitted the squad's offensive and defensive units against each other, where each was rewarded for successful aspects of the game, the Flames offensive unit controlled the pace of play, racking up 395 yards on 75 plays (5.3 average yards per play) and 21 first downs.
Wesley Cheek capped off the first scoring drive for Liberty as the running back darted through the middle of the line of scrimmage for a nine-yard score midway through the first quarter.
The score remained the same until the first play of the second quarter as quarterback Brock Smith found wide out Wynton Jackson open down field, who used a wall of three blockers to pave his way for a 64-yard touchdown reception.
The Flames' defensive unit was finally able to halt the potent Liberty white team offensive attack, by forcing the Flames to punt on their next three possessions; however, the white squad took a 25-7 lead into halftime.
During the break, head coach Danny Rocco recognized several individuals. Graduating senior defensive lineman Don Carlos McWhorter was named the program's Luke 2:52 award winner (whole person development) and quarterback Brock Smith and linebacker Nick Hursky were named the team's Samkon Gado award honoree (most improved spring performer).
After thanking the robust crowd, who enjoyed the bright sunny skies at Williams Stadium, Rocco announced his 2007 team captains. Defensively, senior linebacker Stevie Ray Lloyd and senior defensive lineman Steve Ackley were named team captains. Smith and senior offensive linemen Stephen Sene and Eddie Pinigis were named offensive team captains.
The Flames' blue defensive unit made a strong push to get back into the game, cutting the contest to within 10 points, 35-25, before David Drake hit a 30-yard field goal on the third play of the fourth quarter to push the white squad's lead back to a comfortable margin.
Back-to-back series forcing the offense to punt, followed by a Tim Torrence interception over the middle gave the defensive unit hope, but Cheek finished off the day's festive contest by catching a 16-yard pass and finding the far corner of the end zone to cap off the white team victory.
Cheek led the Flames' running attack of 134 yards rushing with 47 yards on eight carries and a score, followed by Rashad Jennings' seven carries for 30 yards.
Smith completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 163 yards and a touchdown. Back-ups Spencer Landis and Kyle DeArmon added to Liberty's 261 yard passing attack as Landis completed 8-of-16 pass attempts for 74 yards and DeArmon was 1-for-3 with 24 yards on a sideline pas play to fellow quarterback Tavarus Dove.
Turner (46 yards) and Dominic Bolden (28 yards) led all receivers with four catches each, followed by Wynton Jackson's two receptions for 63 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Flames were paced by newly-named captain Lloyd as the linebacker recorded seven tackles, including three solo stops and a forced fumble. Pat Parziale followed closely behind with six tackles, aided by five assisted stops.
The blue defensive squad finished the game with eight tackles for a loss and recorded six sacks on the afternoon, with all six quarterback tackles coming by different defenders.
Punter Dan Sterckz finished the afternoon by averaging 38.6 yards per punt as the kicker booted eight punts for 309 yards, four of which fell inside the 20-yard line.
Drake connected on his only field goal attempt of the day, the fourth quarter 30 yarder, and was 2-for-2 on the afternoon on point after attempts.
The annual Spring game wraps up one of the football program's most successful spring in recent history at Liberty University as the scrimmage marked the 15th and final practice session of Liberty's spring season.
The Flames will hit the books and the weight room over the next several weeks as they wrap up the spring academic semester, before beginning their summer workout schedule.
With the conclusion of spring practice, the countdown to Liberty's 2007 season officially begins. The Flames now stand just 133 days away from when they open the gates at Williams Stadium to host Tusculum in their season opener. Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.