No. 20/23 Liberty will continue its path in the NCAA FCS Playoffs following a thrilling 26-21 win over No. 15/15 James Madison, Saturday afternoon, at Bridgeforth Stadium.
Included with today's news and notes are video highlights from yesterday's road victory over the Dukes, Liberty's first-ever appearance and win in the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
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 James Madison: • Following the game, James Madison now leads the series, 12-6 • Liberty's win snapped a six-game win streak for the Dukes over the Flames • Prior to Saturday, Liberty's last win over James Madison came on Nov. 7, 1992 • Liberty is now 4-6 all-time in games played in Harrisonburg, Va.
Versus the CAA: • Liberty's win marked the Flames' third victory all-time against a team from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) • Liberty is now 3-19 all-time against CAA members • Coming into Saturday's game, Liberty had previously lost 11-consecutive games against CAA teams • Prior to Saturday's win, the Flames' last victory over a CAA team came on Nov. 22, 2003, when Liberty defeated Hofstra, 49-42, in overtime • The win marked the Flames' first in eight games against ranked CAA teams
Versus Ranked Opponents: • Following the win on Saturday over No. 15/15 James Madison, Liberty is now 16-49 all-time against ranked FCS programs • Liberty is 3-1 against ranked FCS teams in 2014, having also posted wins over No. 25 Bryant and No. 2/1 Coastal Carolina • 2014 marks the first time in program history that Liberty has defeated three ranked FCS teams in the same season • Liberty is now 5-7 against ranked teams under Head Coach Turner Gill • The victory gives Liberty wins over ranked opponents in consecutive weeks for the second time in program history • The first time Liberty defeated ranked FCS teams in consecutive weeks was in 1989 when Liberty defeated No. 20 James Madison on Sept. 30 (19-14) and No. 19 Eastern Illinois on Oct. 7 (9-7), with both victories coming at home
Team Talking Points: • The Flames posted a win in their first-ever NCAA FCS Playoff appearance • Liberty's win gave the Flames a victory in four-consecutive road games • Liberty is now 5-2 on the year on the road, marking the most road wins since Liberty finished the 1997 with a perfect 6-0 record on the road • In three seasons under Head Coach Turner Gill, Liberty is now 11-1 during the month of November • Liberty finished the game with a season-best 18:02 time of possession advantage (39:01 to 20:59) • Liberty has finished five of its last seven games with a time of possession edge of 10 or more minutes (Appalachian State – 10:36; Gardner-Webb – 13:12; Monmouth – 15:46; Coastal Carolina – 13:46; James Madison – 18:02) • Liberty secured the win with a season-high 17-play, 85-yard drive that used up 11:01 on the game clock and ended on a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Nicky Fualaau with 2:53 left on the clock • Liberty's decisive 17-play, 85-yard drive was comprised of 15 rushing plays and two passing plays (eight carries by Todd Macon, five carries by D.J. Abnar, one carry by Josh Woodrum and Nicky Fualaau) • Thanks to the 11:01 fourth quarter drive, Liberty finished the second half with a time of possession edge of 21:04 to 8:56 • Liberty missed posting its eighth game of 2014 with 400 or more total offensive yards by three yards, as the Flames finished the game with 397 yards on 73 plays • For the fourth game in a row and ninth time this year, Liberty finished a game with 20 or more first downs (22) • Following the game, Liberty now ranks No. 28 in the country in first down offense (270 first downs in 13 games/20.8 per game) • Liberty scored all four times it entered the red zone against James Madison and now ranks No. 9 in the country in red zone offense (89.1 percent/49-of-55) • Liberty has been perfect in the red zone the last four games, having last been stopped in the red zone against Presbyterian on Nov. 1 • Liberty finished the game with three rushing touchdowns, marking the ninth time in 13 games the Flames have rushed for multiple touchdowns in a game • Following the game, Liberty now ranks No. 21 in the country with 28 rushing touchdowns • Liberty finished the game with 244 passing yards, marking the seventh game in a row Liberty has posted 200 or more passing yards • Following the game, Liberty now ranks No. 28 in the country in passing offense (253.2 passing yards per game) • For the third time this year, Liberty finished a game with double digit third-down conversions (10-of-17) • During its first six games of the year, Liberty's third-down conversion rate was 27.0 percent (17-of-63), which resulted in a 3-3 record • During its last seven games of the year, Liberty's third-down conversion rate has been 50.9 percent (52-of-102), which resulted in a 6-1 record • Liberty converted on its lone fourth-down play during the game and now ranks No. 22 in the country in fourth-down conversion rate (63.2 percent/12-of-19) • After being penalized 10 times for 84 years last week against Coastal Carolina, Liberty finished the James Madison game with four penalties for 40 yards • Liberty currently ranks No. 31 in the country in fewest penalties per game (5.54) • Liberty finished the game with four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles), its second-highest turnover total of the season • The Flames have lost the turnover battle the last two games (-1 to Coastal and -3 to James Madison), but have still won the game • The previous three times Liberty lost the turnover battle in 2014, the Flames lost the game (-2 to North Carolina, -2 to Indiana State, -1 to Richmond) • Liberty limited James Madison's potent offense to 71 plays for 336 yards • James Madison came into the game ranked No. 8 in the country in total offense (497.0 total offensive yards per game) • Liberty limited James Madison to its second lowest total plays of the year (70 against Albany) and second fewest total offensive yards (302 yards against Maryland) • James Madison finished the game with 139 passing yards, marking the seventh opponent Liberty has held below 200 passing yards this season • James Madison tied an opponent season high with three sacks (Indiana State also had three sacks) • Liberty has allowed five sacks in the last two games after allowing nine sacks during the first 11 games of the year • Liberty currently ranks No. 13 in the country in fewest sacks allowed per game (1.08) • The Flames intercepted their 17th pass of the year against James Madison and is No. 9 in the country in passes intercepted
Notable Player Points: • RB D.J. Abnar led the Flames with 17 carries for 69 yards and two rushing touchdowns • RB D.J. Abnar has recorded multiple rushing touchdowns in six games in 2014 • With his two rushing touchdowns against James Madison, D.J. Abnar is now tied for fourth in school history with 15 rushing touchdowns • RB D.J. Abnar has 271 rushing attempts in 2014, which is the second in school history (school record is 302 by James Cole/1983) • RB D.J. Abnar has 1,235 rushing yards in 2014, which ranks fourth in school history (No. 3 is Dre Barnes, who finished the 2002 season with 1,304 rushing yards) • RB Todd Macon finished the game with 13 carries for 40 yards, his third game this year with 10 or more carries • Eight of Todd Macon's 13 carries came during Liberty's decisive fourth quarter, 17-play, 85-yard scoring drive • FB Nick Fualaau scored the game winning touchdown on a one-yard carry in the fourth quarter, his second career rushing touchdown • QB Javan Shashaty, Liberty's holder on field goal attempts, recorded a 26-yard rush on a fake field goal, the longest carry his Liberty career • With his 244 passing yards, QB Josh Woodrum now ranks sixth in school history with 2,765 passing yards (No. 5 is Antwan Chiles, who threw for 2,823 yards in 1994) • QB Josh Woodrum finished the game with 248 total offensive yards and now ranks No. 5 in school history with 3,022 total offensive yards this season (No. 4 is Robby Justino, who finished the 1991 season with 3,033 total offensive yards) • Following a career game at Coastal Carolina, WR Gabe Henderson once again led the Flames with seven receptions for 92 yards • WR Darrin Peterson finished the game with four receptions and now ranks second in school history with 80 receptions in 2014 (school record is 81 receptions held by Pat Nelson in 1991) • TE Dexter Herman finished the game with a career-best four receptions for a career-high 73 yards • K John Lunsford connected on a 56-yard field goal during the third quarter, giving the junior four field goals of 50 or more yards on the year • Following the game, K John Lunsford ranks No. 28 in the country in scoring (90 points) and tied for No. 6 in scoring by a kicker • P Trey Turner's lone punt of the game was for 46 yards, giving the redshirt freshman eight games in 2014 with a punt average over 40 yard per punt • FC Justin Guillory led the Flames with a career-high 13 tackles, including six solo stops, a tackle for a loss and a pass breakup • FC Justin Guillory had recorded 26 total tackles during the first 12 games of the 2014 season • DL Toby Onyechi finished the game with a career-high seven tackles, including two tackles for a loss and a sack • DL Toby Onyechi now leads the team and ranks No. 42 in the country with 8.5 sacks on the season • LB Jimmy O'Grady finished the game with a career-best seven tackles • LB Nick Newman started at weakside linebacker for the fourth game in 2014, finishing the contest with six tackles • DL Dominique Davis finished the game with six tackles, including a sack (7.5 on the season) • DL Erwin Dessources finished the game with a career-best five tackles, including a 13-yard tackle for a loss • BC Kenny Scott finished the game with three solo tackles and two pass breakups • BC Kenny Scott's second pass breakup of the game stopped James Madison's final drive, as the senior broke up a pass on a fourth-and-13 play • BC Kenny Scott now has six pass breakups on the year and 13 for his career, which ranks second-best among Liberty's active players • S Jacob Hagen finished the game with four tackles and two pass breakups, giving the senior a team-best 21 career pass breakups
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