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First-Half Push Leads Flames to 52-43 win over Lobos

September 29, 2018  Albuquerque, N.M.  RSS
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Antonio Gandy-Golden finished the New Mexico game with a school record 245 receiving yards.
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Liberty scored a season-best 42 points during the first half and fended off a late rally attempt from New Mexico to secure a 52-43 win at Dreamstyle Stadium.

The win marks Liberty's first-ever road victory as an FBS program, thanks in part to several record-breaking performances by the Flames.

Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden finished the contest with a school-record 245 receiving yards. He set the record on a 50-yard reception from Stephen Calvert during the fourth quarter to squelch the Lobos' last attempt for a comeback.

The two teams combined for 1,148 yards, with New Mexico outgaining Liberty, 580 to 568. A majority of Liberty's yardage came via its passing game, as the Flames set a school-record with 472 passing yards to surpass the previous mark of 455 against Towson State in 1991.

Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 52-43
Liberty (2-2)
New Mexico (2-2, 0-0 Mountain West)
Location: Dreamstyle Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Attendance: 18,804

Turning Point:

The Flames scored 42 points during the first half, marking the fourth time Liberty has scored 40 or more points in the first half under Flames' Head Coach Turner Gill.

However, Liberty still needed some key second-half plays to secure the road victory. After the Lobos scored on three out of four drives, Liberty responded by piecing together a five-play, 75-yard drive to push its lead back to 20 points with 12:26 left to play in the game.

New Mexico made one last push and trimmed the lead to six points, but a 50-yard pass play by Calvert to Gandy-Golden put Liberty into scoring position for one last time where Liberty put the game out of reach with a 22-yard field goal with 62 seconds left to play.

Play-By-Play Breakdown:

First Quarter
• Before a full four minutes ticked off the clock, both teams found the end zone to set the tone for the afternoon contest. Tyrone Owens capped a four-play, 75-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run to give the home team a quick lead at 13:39. Liberty responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, tying the contest at 11:27 on a two-yard run up the middle by Frankie Hickson.
• Liberty took a 14-7 lead at the 3:03 mark on a one-yard touchdown run up the middle by Peytton Pickett, finishing off a nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive. The touchdown run was set up by a 39-yard pass from wide receiver D.J. Stubbs to fellow wide receiver Gandy-Golden, who was dragged down just short of the goal line.
• Liberty pushed its lead to 14 just before the end of the quarter (0:45) thanks to the game's first turnover. Bejour Wilson picked off Tevaka Tuioti pass over the middle of the field. Five plays later, Damian King brushed off two defenders to score his second receiving touchdown of the season from 10 yards out to extend Liberty's lead to 21-7.

Second Quarter
• The game's next turnover allowed the home team to trim their deficit back to 11 points, 21-10, with 9:44 left to play before halftime. Under pressure, Liberty's Calvert threw his third interception of the year, which was returned to the Liberty 18-yard line. The Flames defense kept the Lobos out of the end zone, forcing New Mexico to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Andrew Shelley.
• Liberty quickly answered back, extending its lead to 18 points 96 seconds later (8:08), 28-10. The Flames converted on their second fourth-down play of the game when Gandy-Golden leapt up over a defender to pull in his fourth receiving touchdown of the season on a 20-yard pass play from Calvert.
• The Flames' first blocked punt since 2013 set up the game's next scoring drive, as Corbin Jackson blocked a punt and recovered it at the one-yard line. One play later, Hickson rushed up the middle at 2:34 to give the Flames a 35-10 edge.
• Liberty capped off its highest scoring first half since the Morehead State game in 2017 when Calvert completed a 24-yard touchdown dart to B.J. Farrow with 22 seconds left before the break, giving Liberty a 42-10 edge at halftime.

Third Quarter
• Back-up quarterback Sheriron Jones ended a 33-plus minute scoring drought for the Lobos on New Mexico's first drive of the third quarter. Jones find a wide open Patrick Reed on the sidelines for a 79-yard touchdown play at the 10:21 mark of the third quarter, narrowing Liberty's lead to 42-16.
• The Lobos scored one more time during the quarter, cutting Liberty's lead to 42-23 at the 3:10 mark on a touchdown pass from Jones to Anu Somoye. The four-yard strike capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive that took 3:20 off the game clock.

Fourth Quarter
• New Mexico made the game a 13-point contest on the second play of the fourth quarter, scoring for the third time in four drives. The five-play, 72-yard drive cut Liberty's lead to 42-29 with 14:13 left to play on a seven-yard pass from Jones to Marcus Williams.
• The Flames answered with a five-play, 75-yard that ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Pickett at 12:26. The drive saw Calvert complete passing plays of 24 and 26 yards to Gandy-Golden, helping the junior finish the night with a career-high 245 receiving yards and pushed • Liberty's lead back to 20 points at 49-29.
• After the Lobos cut the lead to seven, 49-42, Calvert found Gandy-Golden on the sidelines for a 50-yard reception to push him over the record-breaking threshold. Four plays later, Aaron Peart knocked down a 22-yard field goal with 1:02 left to seal the win.

What's Next:

The Flames will return to the "Land of Enchantment" next weekend when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M., for their first of two games against New Mexico State in 2018. Liberty will also hosted the Aggies at Williams Stadium in Nov. 24.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Location: Las Cruces, N.M. (Aggie Memorial Stadium)
Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)
TV: AggieVision (New Mexico) and WZBJ 24 Roanoke/Lynchburg 
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. (EST)