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Liberty Football Game Notes: No. 20/23 Liberty vs. No. 15/15 James Madison
Game Time: 4 p.m. Official Kickoff: 4:04 p.m.
TV Coverage: ESPN3 (NCAA Production) Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Dave Weekley Color Commentator: John Gregory Sideline Reporter: None
Radio Coverage: Liberty Flames Sports Network – Radio • 88.3 FM (Lynchburg, Va.) • 101.3 FM (Harrisonburg, Va.) • Full LFSN Radio Network Affiliates List • Pregame: 2:30 p.m. Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Alan York Color Commentator: Paul Rutigliano Sidelines: Nick Pierce Pregame: Nick Pierce and Matt Camire
First and 10 – Saturday's Top Storylines 1. Big South Conference champion No. 20/23 Liberty will make its NCAA FCS Playoff debut Saturday at 4 p.m. when the Flames travel to face long-time Commonwealth rival No. 15/15 James Madison. 2. Saturday's game will mark the 18th all-time meeting between Liberty and James Madison. See page 3 for information on the series history and page 20 of the game notes for the game-by-game series results. 3. LB Nick Sigmon and a number of other Liberty seniors played in the most recent Liberty-JMU contest, Sept. 17, 2011 at Williams Stadium. The Dukes pulled out a 27-24 victory on a last-second field goal. See page 3 of the game notes for more information on that matchup. 4. Liberty is seeking its first win over JMU since 1992, its first victory over a CAA opponent since 2003 and its first-ever road win against a CAA foe. See page 4 of the game notes for more on the game's historical significance. 5. DE Chima Uzowihe blocked a last-second field goal attempt, sealing Liberty's 15-14 win over No. 2/1 Coastal Carolina and clinching a playoff berth. See page 4 of the game notes for more on the Flames' improbable season. 6. WR Darrin Peterson has racked up a program single-season record 1,214 receiving yards in 2014 and needs six catches to break the single-season mark of 81. See page 4 of the game notes for other milestones within reach. 7. Backup QB Stephon Masha led the Flames to victory at No. 2/1 Coastal Carolina in his second career start. See page 6 of the game notes for more information on the two-time Big South Freshman of the Week. 8. DE Chima Uzowihe (8.0 sacks) and DE Toby Onyechi (7.5 sacks) are each closing in on the Big South single-season record of 8.5 sacks. See page 7 of the game notes for more information on the Flames' defense. 9. S Jacob Hagen has intercepted a nation-leading eight passes this season. See page 12 of the game notes for where the Flames rank among the NCAA and Big South Conference statistical leaders. 10. Liberty has won five of its last six games, while James Madison enters the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. See below for the Flames' results and page 19 of the game notes for the Dukes' results.
"4 Downs" with the Dukes 1 - Saturday's game will mark Liberty's first-ever FCS playoff contest. Meanwhile, JMU will be making its 11th playoff appearance overall and first since 2011. The Dukes captured the 2004 NCAA FCS national championship. 2 - Liberty has only faced two opponents (Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb) more often in program history than James Madison. Saturday's game will mark the 18th meeting between the Flames and Dukes. JMU is 12-5 versus Liberty and has won six consecutive contests against the Flames. (See page 20 for the full series history.) 3 - Liberty has faced three teams which qualified for the 2014 FCS playoffs (Indiana State, Richmond and Coastal Carolina), going 1-2. James Madison went 1-1 versus FCS playoff qualifiers, defeating Richmond and losing to Villanova. 4 - Liberty will be seeking its fourth win all-time at Bridgeforth Stadium, as the Flames are 3-6 at JMU. Liberty's most recent victory over the Dukes came in Harrisonburg. Adrian Cherry capped off a 120-yard day with a two-yard plunge with just 56 seconds left, giving the Flames a 34-31 victory on Nov. 7, 1992. Liberty has won three straight road games this season and is 4-2 on the road in 2014. That is the Flames' most road wins since 2008, when Liberty went 4-1 away from Williams Stadium.
Milestone Watch 1 - Jacob Hagen needs one interception to set the Big South single-season record with nine picks. That would be the most interceptions in a single season by a Flame since 1979. 1 - Josh Woodrum needs one TD pass to become the third QB in program history and the fifth in Big South annals with 50 career TD passes. 8.5 - Defensive linemen Chima Uzowihe (8.0 sacks) and Toby Onyechi (7.5 sacks) are both bearing down on the Big South single-season record of 8.5 sacks, set by Gardner-Webb's Shaquille Riddick in 2013. 6/175 - Darrin Peterson needs six receptions to break the Liberty single-season record of 81 catches, established by Pat Nelson in 1991. Peterson would need a huge day (175 yards) to break the Big South single-season receiving record of 1,388 yards, set by Stony Brook's Kevin Norrell in 2012. 20/139 - With 20 rushing yards, D.J. Abnar would pass Marshall Clark (1982; 1,185 yards) for fifth place on the Flames' all-time single-season list. A 139-yard day would allow Abnar to climb all the way up to third place on the list.
A Liberty Win Would ... • Mark the Flames' first NCAA FCS playoff victory. • Be the Flames' third triumph over a nationally ranked FCS opponent this season. Liberty has never defeated three FCS Top 25 foes in the same year. • Mark the Flames' fourth consecutive road victory and give Liberty its most road wins in a season (5) since the 1997 Flames went 6-0. • Improve the Flames' November record under Turner Gill to 11-1. • Give the Flames their fourth season with nine or more wins all-time and first since the 2008 Flames went 10-2. • Snap James Madison's streak of six straight victories over the Flames and mark Liberty's first win over JMU since Nov. 7, 1992. • Halt Liberty's 11-game losing streak against CAA foes and mark its first win over a conference team since Nov. 22, 2003 against Hofstra. • Be the Flames' first-ever road victory versus a CAA opponent. • Stop James Madison's current seven-game winning streak. • Move the Flames on to face Villanova on Dec. 6.
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