Liberty's red-clad defensive unit used a dominating first half performance and a last-drive stop to secure a 71-67 victory over their white-clad offensive counterparts during Liberty's annual spring football game, Saturday, at Williams Stadium.
Last year's annual spring game came down to the final drive, as well, where the Flames' offensive unit was able to score a game-winning touchdown to win, 70-52, on the final play.
Head Coach Turner Gill and his staff continued to utilize their unique spring game scoring format, which rewards Liberty's offensive and defensive units for a variety of situations.
Liberty's defense controlled the first half of play, keeping the Flames' offense in check and out of the end zone.
Liberty's lone scoring opportunity of the first half came midway the first half, but All-America kicker John Lunsford's 32-yard attempt missed the uprights wide right.
During halftime, Gill recognized each member of Liberty's 2014 senior class, who capped off their four years at Liberty with a third-straight Big South title and the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Each graduated senior was given a framed jersey to commemorate their time as a member of the program.
In addition, the program announced three award winners. Quarterback Javan Shashaty was named the Luke 2:52 Award winner, given to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the program's whole-person development mission.
This year's Samkon Gado Award winners (most improved player during spring practice) were sophomore quarterback Stephon Masha (offense) and junior defensive lineman Gerald Holt (defense).
The defense looked like it was going to run away with a significant point win over the offense, as they continued to control the pace of play early in the second half.
However, 2013 All-Big South running back Desmond Rice sparked Liberty's second half effort. The redshirt senior, who sat out in 2014 with an injury, took a screen pass from Masha and broke several tackles to score on a 49-pass play.
Several drives later, senior All-Big South quarterback Josh Woodrum found an open Ryan McCarter deep down field on a 50-yard route to get the Flames' offense back into the red zone.
Liberty's defense forced a fourth down play, but Carrington Mosley was able to get to the outside and pick up a first down on a seven-yard run.
On the next play, Woodrum handed the ball back to Mosley and he scored from one yard out, giving the offense its first lead of the game.
However, Liberty's defense was able to come up with stops on the next two drives, including a lengthy third-and-26 play that gave the red-clad players the four-point win.
Woodrum (10-of-17) and Masha (5-of-11) took a majority of the snaps on the day, while sophomore quarterback Bo Swanson finished the day 2-of-5.
Austin Kaigler and Mosley received the bulk load of rushing attempts on the afternoon, each carrying the ball 10-plus times. Rice finished the day with seven carries and the 49-yard touchdown on the Masha pass play.
Liberty's top two wide receivers on the day were returning All-American Darrin Peterson and junior Zac Parker who combined for nine total receptions.
Liberty's defensive unit finished the day with four three-and-out series, a fumble recovery and four sacks (Lucas Irons, Dia'Vante Brown, William Fiordelise and Javon Majors).
The Flames will wrap up their annual spring football practice schedule next weekend when they hold practices on Tuesday and Thursday.
Liberty opens its 2015 season at home against Delaware State on Sept. 5, the first time Liberty has opened its season at Williams Stadium since 2008.
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