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Liberty Takes Fourth Straight Against VMI
The victory snapped a four-match losing skid for the Flames and evened Liberty's dual match record at 7-7 on the season. The loss dropped the Keydets to 5-6 on the year and handed VMI its first home defeat of the season in five duals.
With the victory, Liberty improves to 4-0 against VMI over the last four years, including back-to-back victories inside of heralded Cocke Hall, which has been dubbed the Thunder Dome because of the atmosphere created by the cadets on campus.
The matchup with the top billing heading into the evening jumpstarted the night that saw all 10 bouts go the distance, including the heavyweight dual which took three extra periods to determine a victor.
Wine came into the night with a perfect 14-0 record and a 9-0 mark in dual action. Liberty's Josh Pelletier was also perfect in dual action at 6-0 and 11-4 overall, with all four of his setbacks coming at the hands of nationally ranked foes.
The two grapplers traded escape points out of the down position to start the second and third periods, sending the match into overtime tied at 1-1. Neither heavyweight was able to score during the first extra session, necessitating a pair of 30-second periods.
Wine was able to control Pelletier and keep the junior on the mats during the first 30 seconds, while the Keydets' leader reversed control on Pelletier during the last overtime period 10 seconds into the final round to secure a hard-fought 3-1 decision and remain unbeaten.
Jonathan Childress quickly tied the dual at 3-3, as the freshman knotted the overall team score with his 5-3 decision victory over John Pope at 125 pounds.
Childress scored a takedown midway through the first and later added three near-fall points to open up a 5-0 edge after three minutes. The score remained the same until the third period, when Pope scored a takedown and added a point for a 1:04 riding time edge, but it was not enough to give the Keydets their second victory on the night.
The 133-pound bout between Liberty's Joe Pantaleo and VMI's Luke Todd remained close until the final period, as Pantaleo held a slight 5-3 lead after five minutes of action.
However, Pantaleo put the match out of reach when the redshirt freshman scored an escape with 50 seconds left, followed by a two-point takedown just before the final whistle to give Liberty a 6-3 lead thanks to his 8-3 decision victory over Todd.
Things remained close throughout the matchup between the Flames' Scott Clymer and the Keydets' David Yost at 141 pounds, as the bout was not decided until the final period.
Clymer was leading, 5-3, after the first two periods, until Yost tied the score on the scoring tree at 5-5 with a takedown midway through the third period. But Yost let Clymer slip away and the redshirt sophomore used his 1:46 of riding time to finish off a 7-5 decision victory.
The hometown Keydets managed to close the dual scoring gap to two points, 9-7, with a major decision victory at 149 pounds, as Michael Long carded a 12-2 victory over Joey Montgomery.
Long, the lone senior in VMI's starting lineup, held a modest 4-1 lead after three minutes of action thanks to two first-period takedowns. However, he managed to put the bout out of reach with a reversal and three near-fall points in the second period.
Long's victory seemed to spark Liberty's remaining five grapplers, as each scored major decision victories to close out the dual and secure the Flames' seventh team victory on the season.
Shaun Smith started the strong closing run for the visitors, as the senior recorded a match-high six takedowns during his seven-minute sparring session with Joe Munno.
During the first two minutes of the 157-pound bout, Smith took Munno down to the mats only to see the sophomore slip away from him each time. Following two more takedowns in the second and a final one with seven seconds left, Smith was able to score his most points in a bout this year in a 16-5 victory.
Chad Porter dominated his matchup with Conor Black at 165 pounds, but Liberty's grappler only managed to lead 4-0 after five minutes of action.
Porter was finally able to leverage his control of the bout into points during the last two minutes, scoring a quick escape, two takedowns and a point for 2:00 of riding time to close out his 11-1 major decision over Black and push Liberty's lead to 10 points, 17-7.
At 174 pounds, Brad Clark was able to snap a personal six-match losing streak with a 10-2 major decision victory over Andrew Szymborski.
Clark was able to draw from his experience in an 11-5 decision over Szymborski at the Keystone Classic earlier this year to aid in his victory. The redshirt sophomore scored two takedowns and a second-period reversal with three near-fall points to help him secure the win.
Nick Knowles jumped out to a commanding lead in the first, as he led 9-1 following three minutes of action with Vinnie Gallo at 184 pounds. The junior added six more points during the middle period and looked like he might end the bout early, as he led 15-3 heading into the final period.
However, Gallo was able to keep Knowles down on the mats during the final two minutes of action and score two points, but they were not enough to erase the sizeable deficit, as Knowles walked away with a 15-5 major decision win.
With the overall dual having already been decided, Jacobi Johnson decided to put an exclamation mark on the team victory with his most dominating performance of the season.
The junior tangled with Ronnie Ellsworth for more than two minutes before finally scoring a two-point takedown late in the first period to open up a narrow lead.
However, he added two additional takedowns in the second and another in the third period to go along with his riding time edge (1:12) to score his team-leading sixth major decision victory with a 10-2 win over Ellsworth.
The Flames return to dual action on Saturday afternoon, when they welcome NCAA East Regional foe Campbell to the Vines Center. The dual is slated to begin at 3 p.m.
Liberty will be looking to make it two in a row against the Camels, after picking up a 27-12 victory over Campbell, last year, in Buies Creek, N.C. Campbell opened up a 12-0 lead following three bouts, but Liberty rallied by winning the last seven weight class match ups to secure the road dual victory.