The Flames opened their 2014 season by letting a third quarter lead slip away and falling to No. 23 North Carolina on Saturday night, 56-29, at Kenan Stadium.
Included with today's news and notes are radio highlights from the contest courtesy of the Liberty Flames Sports Network's radio crew, Coach Gill's postgame press conference and LFSN radio sideline reporter Nick Pierce's interviews with quarterback Josh Woodrum and cornerback Kenny Scott.
Throughout the season, LibertyFlames.com will run a similar feature online each Sunday, spotlighting the notable accomplishments and numbers from the previous day's gridiron battle.
Series with North Carolina: • The contest was the first-ever matchup in football between Liberty and North Carolina. • Liberty has now faced three ACC teams on four different occasions. • Liberty is now 0-4 all-time against ACC teams, having previously lost to Wake Forest in 2006 (34-14) and 2012 (20-17) and N.C. State in 2011 (43-21). • Liberty has now opened the year against an ACC foe three times in the last four years (2011, 2012 and 2014).
Team Talking Points: • The game was played in front of 51,000 fans at Kenan Stadium, marking the third largest crowd ever to see Liberty play a football game (57,950 at West Virginia in 2009 and 56,564 at N.C. State in 2011). • North Carolina entered the game ranked No. 23 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls, marking the first time Liberty has ever faced a nationally ranked FBS opponent. • The loss snapped Liberty's five-game winning streak dating back to last season, which was the longest winning streak for Liberty under head coach Turner Gill and the longest since Liberty won six straight in 2011. • Liberty led the game 22-21 midway through the third quarter, but North Carolina scored 28 points during a span of 3:49 to reclaim the lead and secure the victory. • Liberty finished the decisive third quarter without a first down gained (0-for-4 on third-down conversions) and with three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles). • The two teams finished the game with near identical numbers on average yards per play (Liberty – 4.7; North Carolina – 4.8). However, the Tar Heels finished the contest with 19 more offensive plays than the Flames (Liberty – 74, North Carolina – 93). • Liberty finished the game committing two penalties resulting in 19 penalty yards, while North Carolina finished the contest with 10 infractions resulting in 60 penalty yards. • North Carolina won the third-down conversion battle, with the Flames converting on 5-of-14 third downs to the Tar Heels' 9-of-17 third-down plays. • Liberty finished the game with three rushing touchdowns, accounting for the 11th time in 24 games under head coach Turner Gill the Flames have rushed for three or more touchdowns in a game. • The Flames recorded their first safety of the 2014 season in the game and Liberty's first since the Flames had a first quarter safety against Monmouth on Sept. 7, 2013. • The 56 points that North Carolina scored against Liberty is the most the Flames have allowed in three seasons under head coach Turner Gill (previous high was 55 to Coastal Carolina in a double overtime loss in 2013) and the most since Liberty lost to No. 16 William & Mary, 56-0, on Sept. 24, 2005 on the road. • North Carolina scored eight touchdowns during the game and averaged just over 77 seconds per drive on its eight scoring drives. Three of North Carolina's eight scoring drives came following a Liberty turnover. • Liberty finished the 2013 season with 11 turnovers in 12 total games. The Flames finished their season opener with North Carolina with six turnovers (four fumbles and two interceptions). • In three seasons under head coach Turner Gill, Liberty's previous high for turnovers in a game was three against Montana and Coastal Carolina, both in 2012. • Picking up where the Flames left off in 2013, Liberty finished the North Carolina game with three interceptions (Liberty ranked No. 5 nationally in 2013 with 19 total interceptions).
Notable Player Points: • RB Todd Macon rushed 13 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns during his first career game played at Liberty. • RB D.J. Abnar led the Flames with a career-high 18 rushing attempts, pushing him past the 100 career carries mark (108). • For just the fourth time in 22 career starts at quarterback, Josh Woodrum finished a game without completing a touchdown pass. • QB Stephon Masha played in his first career game at Liberty and finished with a 16-yard scramble on the game's final drive. • WR Darrin Peterson missed recording his fifth career 100-yard receiving game by four yards, as he finished the North Carolina game with four receptions for 96 yards. • P Trey Turner finished his first career game at Liberty averaging 41.2 yards per punt (nine punts, 371 yards) with two punts pinning North Carolina inside the 20-yard line. • DL Dominique Davis set a new career high, leading the Flames with nine tackles against North Carolina (previous career high was two tackles against VMI in 2013). • S Jacob Hagen returned a fumble 27 yards midway through the third quarter, his second career fumble return for a touchdown (first was a 44-yard return against Stony Brook in 2012). • CB Kenny Scott tied a career high with eight tackles (six solo, two assisted) and became the Flames' third active player with 100 or more career tackles (107). • LB Jimmy O'Grady started his first career game at middle linebacker and finished the contest with a career-high six tackles (five solo, one assisted). • CB Justin Guillory started at boundary corner in his first game at Liberty, finishing the contest with five tackles (three solo, two assisted). • DL Chima Uzowihe recorded four solo tackles, including a seven-yard sack to give him 10 career sacks at Liberty. • S Alpha Jalloh finished his first career game at Liberty with four tackles (two solo, two assisted) and recorded one of Liberty's three interceptions in the game. • S Gary Sampson started his first career game at Liberty and recorded his second career interception. • K Avery Echols started his first career game at Liberty, finishing the contest with three extra points and averaging 47.0 yards per kickoff (one kick was a short pooch kick).
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