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Flames Close Out Home Schedule With 34-20 Victory Over 24th-Ranked Buccaneers

November 11, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Flames Close Out Home Schedule With 34-20 Victory Over 24th-Ranked Buccaneers
The 2006 Flames football senior class closed out their days at Williams Stadium in style as Liberty ended 24th-ranked Charleston Southern's 14-game winning streak with a 34-20 Big South Conference victory Saturday afternoon. 

With the victory, the Flames even their record at 5-5 on the season and snap a six-game Big South Conference losing streak to improve to 1-2 in league action this year. 

The loss, Charleston Southern's first since dropping a 34-12 decision at VMI on October 18, 2005, drops the Buccaneers' record to 9-1 on the year and 2-1 in league play. 

The win gave Liberty's its first victory over a nationally-ranked team since 1997 and the eighth win over a ranked I-AA team in school history. Liberty's last win over a nationally-ranked team was a 25-19 victory over 15th-ranked Appalachian State on November 22, 1997, allowing the Flames to finish the season with a 9-2 record. 

The Flames wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Liberty marched down field on the opening drive of the game 80 yards on six plays for a score. The drive was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown run by Zach Terrell at the 11:45 mark to give Liberty a 6-0 lead as Zac Kolegue's extra point sailed wide left. 

The drive was highlighted by a trick play as quarterback Brock Smith handed the ball off to Terrell who threw the ball back to Smith on the opposite side of the field for a 27-yard gain, giving Liberty the ball inside the Buccaneers' Red Zone. 

After holding Charleston Southern on the ensuing drive, the Flames quickly added to their lead as Smith found Brandon Turner open in the flat and the junior scampered 56 yards down field for a score, upping the Liberty advantage to 13-0 with 6:48 left in the first quarter. 

The score remained the same until midway through the second quarter as C.J. Hirschman returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown at 7:54 to pull the Buccaneers within six points, 13-7. The punt return marked the fourth time this year that Liberty has allowed an opponent to score in the first half this year. 

However, Liberty had some special team's magic of its own as Jackson fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 20 yard line and found a few gaps down field, allowing him to return the kickoff 80 yards for the Flames' third touchdown of the afternoon and give Liberty a 20-7 lead. 

It is the second time this year that Liberty, who entered the game ranked seventh nationally in kickoff return yardage, has returned a kickoff for a touchdown as Dominic Bolden returned a kickoff 93 yards against Coastal Carolina on October 28. 

Charleston Southern started to march down field on the next drive until Collin Drafts fumbled the ball on a quarterback scramble, forced by Tyler Turner and recovered by Colin Dugan, giving the Flames the ball back at the Liberty 43-yard line . 

Seven plays later, Terrell found the end zone for the second time of the afternoon and the 12th time this year as the sophomore ran nine yards to the near side of the field and dove into the corner of the end zone for a 27-7 Liberty lead just 2:18 before halftime. 

Neither team found the scoreboard in the third quarter; but, the Buccaneers did suffer a loss late in the quarter. Drafts scrambled 12 yards down field for a Buccaneer first down to get to the Liberty 30-yard line, but the quarterback was injured on the play and did not return.

And two plays later, Draft's back-up Eli Byrd was picked off by Ryan Greiser.
Liberty sealed its victory early in the fourth quarter as Smith found Wynton Jackson open deep down field, lofting a ball over two defenders and the wide out scampered 45 yards to the end zone for the score to give Liberty a 34-7 lead with 8:58 left to play in the contest. 

However, the Buccaneers never quit as they tried to make the most of their last nine minutes. Byrd completed a 31-yard scoring strike to Bryant Burch on the next drive, while Charleston Southern took advantage of botched punt snap to set up Byrd for a one-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left, but Liberty's lead was too large, ending the Buccaneers' undefeated season. 

For the first time in school history, the Flames had over 10,000 fans attend four different games on the year, including today's game with 10,823 fans. Liberty's finished the 2006 home season with a school record 66,765 in total home attendance, surpassing the previous record of 55,990 set over seven games during the 1990 campaign. 

The Flames finished the game with a season-high 251 passing yards, including 224 yards and two scores by Smith as he completed 12-of-17 attempts, plus the 27-yard pass play from Terrell to Smith. Drafts finished the game with a season-low 116 yards passing, despite completing 15-of-20 passes in three quarters of action. 

Terrell led the Flames' rushing attack with 20 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns, making him the seventh player in school history with 12 rushing touchdowns in a season. Rashad Jennings added 43 yards on nine carries. Drafts was the Buccaneers' leading rusher with nine carries for 38 yards. 

Turner became the ninth player in school history to post back-to-back 100-yard receiving games as the junior caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown and Jackson followed with five receptions for 83 yards and a score. Maurice Price, who entered the game leading the nation in receptions per game, was held to just 61 yards on 13 receptions. 

Senior linebacker Manny Rojas closed out his playing days at Williams Stadium with his 11th career double-figure tackle game with a team-best 11 stops, giving him 340 career tackles, which ranks sixth best in school history. Hirschman led the Buccaneers with 12 tackles, followed by Jonna Lee who added 11 stops. 

The Flames close out the 2006 season with a battle of Blue Ridge Mountain teams as Liberty travels to Lexington, Va., to face VMI next Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Kickoff for the Big South Conference contest is set for 1 p.m.