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Flames Take Eight in Dual Win over Patriots
With the victory, Liberty raises its dual match record to 10-9 and gives head coach Jesse Castro his fourth-straight season with 10 or more dual wins. The four-year run leaves Castro one victory shy of his 50th career win (49-38-2).
The loss dropped George Mason to 3-10-1 on the year and kept the Patriots from giving a pair of seniors one more victory during their home careers. It also marked the second-straight year the Flames have downed George Mason at home, as Liberty scored a 23-19 comeback win over the Patriots at the Field House on Feb. 17, 2009.
Brian Wright, one of two seniors honored prior to the dual, gave George Mason a 4-0 lead with a 10-0 major decision over Jonathan Childress at 125 pounds.
Wright scored individual takedowns in the first and second periods to open up a 4-0 lead after five minutes. The senior then put the matchup out of reach during the final period, scoring a reversal with three near-fall points to go along with an additional point for 3:23 of riding time.
Liberty was able to pull the dual back within a single point, 4-3, following a 6-0 blanking by Joe Pantaleo over Denny Herndon at 133 pounds.
Neither grappler could find the scoreboard until Pantaleo recorded a takedown midway through the second period. Starting from the down position, the redshirt freshman quickly got away from Herndon, then added a second takedown and was given a penalty point after Herndon tried to stall the match late during the final two minutes of action.
Liberty was able to take the lead shortly thereafter without any action taking place on the mats, as T. J. Mitchell was awarded a forfeit win at 141 pounds.
The Flames managed to keep things rolling as Frankie Gayeski picked up his team-leading 23rd win of the season with a 9-2 decision victory over Brandon Bucher at 149 pounds.
Gayeski scored the first four points in the bout, including a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal. Bucher managed to trim his deficit in half with a late reversal, giving Liberty's senior captain a 4-2 lead with two minutes left.
The back-and-forth reversal battle continued when Gayeski put the match out of reach with a reversal out of the down position and two near-fall points. The move allowed the senior to rack up 1:14 of riding time to close out his seven-point decision win and give his squad a 12-4 lead in the overall dual.
Gayeski's fellow senior captain Shaun Smith pushed Liberty's dual lead to 11 points, 15-4, with the evening's most thrilling win, a 7-6 comeback decision at 157 pounds over Aaron Keeton.
Both wrestlers scored a takedown and an escape during the opening three minutes to tie the matchup at three points apiece, while Keeton carded the lone second-period point with an escape out of the down position.
Smith followed suit, tying the dual with is second escape, only to find himself down following Keeton's second takedown of the night. However, Smith was able to regroup and score his eighth win in his last nine bouts with a late escape and takedown to steal the one-point win.
The two teams managed to trade six-point wins in the next two weight classes, courtesy of a pair of first-period pins.
Chad Porter made a quick move on Frankie McLaughlin at 165 pounds with an early takedown, only to see the junior slip away with an escape point.
Porter continued to control the pace of action and scored his second takedown, and with the clock winding down, he ended the bout with his fourth win by fall at 2:49 for his 20th win of the season.
The Patriots were able to stop their five weight class losing streak quick at 174 pounds, as Mendbagana Tovuujav won his 12th match in a row.
The nation's 12th-ranked grappler at 174 pounds moved in on Brad Clark shortly after the opening whistle for a two-point takedown. Clark tried to escape, but Tovuujav was able to pin him to the mat just 31 seconds into the bout to pull George Mason within 11 points in the overall dual, 21-10.
However, the Flames put the dual out of reach by taking the last three weight classes to pick up their 10th dual victory of the season and their second straight in Faixfax.
Nick Knowles started the run with a hard-fought 8-6 decision over Greg Scott at 184 pounds. Knowles looked to be in control of the dual, opening up a 4-1 lead after three minutes with a pair of first-period takedowns. Scott came storming back to knot the dual at 4-4, thanks to an escape out of the down position followed by a takedown.
The two grapplers started neutral for the final two minutes and Knowles quickly regained control with two takedowns. Scott slipped away from Knowles both times, but could do no further damage, giving Knowles his fourth win in a row and 15th of the year.
Jacobi Johnson found himself down early to Bill Widener, but managed to score five third-period points to earn a 7-5 decision victory at 197 pounds.
Neither wrestler scored until Widener escaped out of the down position during the second period. By time the middle period had ended, Widener found himself with a 4-2 lead in his final home dual.
However, the senior was not as fortunate as his 125-pound teammate, as Johnson dominated action during the final two minutes to secure the two-point decision. Fresh off a near upset of No. 18 Lamar Brown of Rutgers last Friday, Johnson tallied an escape and a pair of takedowns to polish off the two-point victory.
With the dual already well in hand, Liberty's Josh Pelletier took to the mats to finish off the night for the Flames with a 4-1 decision over Adam Barnette.
The only point either heavyweight scored during the opening five minutes was an escape by Barnette during the second period.
Starting down in the third, Pelletier finally got on the scoreboard with a quick escape followed by a takedown. The redshirt junior then managed to keep Barnette to the mat the rest of the period, securing an extra point for 1:54 of riding time and his 13th victory of the season.
The Flames will have the weekend off to rest and prepare for their regular-season finale in Boone, N.C. The Tuesday matchup against Appalachian State is slated to begin at 6 p.m.