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Offense Shines Again in Annual Spring Game
For the second-straight year, Liberty's white-jerseyed players outplayed those in blue, as the Flames offense rolled 612 yards en route to a dominating 62-15 victory over the defense during Liberty's annual spring football game, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium. Last year, Liberty's offense claimed a 45-25 victory during the annual spring contest.
Using a unique scoring system where both sides of the football were rewarded for different situations, the offense repeatedly bested the defense. Liberty racked up 612 yards on 83 plays, giving the white-jerseyed squad 7.4 average yards per play for the contest.
Individual stars on the afternoon included quarterback Brock Smith and his favorite target Dominic Bolden. Smith finished the final practice of Liberty's spring by completing 16-of-23 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Bolden tallied over 60 percent of Smith's passing yardage, hauling in seven passes for 149 yards and both touchdowns. Both scoring plays came during the second quarter, with the first being a pass over the middle for a 29-yard score.
The second was one of the final plays before intermission, as Smith dropped back and found Bolden open in the far corner of the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown reception.
During halftime, head coach Danny Rocco thanked the raucous crowd of 2,700 and announced this year's award winners. During part of last night's football awards banquet, the program honored three individuals as this year's winners of the Luke 2:52 and Samkon Gado awards.
The Luke 2:52 award is presented annually to the football player who best exemplifies the program's Whole Person Development program. This year's honoree was senior defensive lineman Steven Ackley.
Ackley, a four-year starter at defensive end, was one of 22 seniors who helped the Flames capture their first-ever Big South championship in 2007. He finished the year ranked fifth on the team with a career high 63 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for a loss and 3.0 sacks.
Jonathan Crawford (Sr., WR) and Donald Manns (Jr., DB) followed Ackley, as the pair was named as the recipients of this year's Samkon Gado award. The honor is annually bestowed upon the offensive and defensive player who the coaching staff feels showed the greatest improvement during spring practice.
Rocco also named his 2008 team captains who are Colin Dugan (DL), Ryan Greiser (DB), Mike Godsil (OL), Nick Hursky (LB), Rashad Jennings (RB) and Smith.
During the second half, Liberty's defense started to make its presence known, holding the offense to a Ben Shipps 27-yard field goal and a 68-yard touchdown hook up between Spencer Landis and Matt Lambros.
Liberty's passing game dominated the contest, with 428 of the Flames' 612 total yards coming through the air. Three other quarterbacks completed passes during the game, as Mike Brown (5-of-8, 1 TD), Landis (5-for-6, 1 TD) and Kyle DeArmon all saw time under center.
The Flames took to the ground for 41 out of 83 plays, racking up 187 total rushing yards. Jennings led Liberty's ground gainers by rushing seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Hewlett followed by carrying the ball three times for 25 yards.
Wesley Cheek took all four balls snapped from long snapper Dan Pope, finishing the game with 39.8 average yards per punt (four for 159 yards.)
Liberty's defensive unit spread out its 79 tackles among 29 different players, led by linebacker Chad Brown, who finished the practice session with nine tackles. Greiser directly followed with six stops, while Manns and Larry Clairborne added five stops apiece.
Two different defenders tallied interceptions, as Brandon Saunders returned a DeArmon pass in the second and Chuck Duffey returned a Mike Brown pass 25-yards in the fourth.
The Flames will now move into the next phase of preparation for their Big South title defense, hitting the weight room under the direction of strength and condition coach Bill Gillespie over the next several months.
The entire team will reconvene at the Williams Football Operations Center late July to begin training camp, while 133 days from today, the lights will be on at Williams Stadium when Liberty opens the 2008 schedule against North Greenville on August 30.