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Flames End Year with Highest Ranking Ever

January 5, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Brock Smith and the Flames ended the season ranked No. 14 in the Sports Network poll and No. 15 in the FCS Coaches listing, the program's highest year-ending national ranking.

Brock Smith and the Flames ended the season ranked No. 14 in the Sports Network poll and No. 15 in the FCS Coaches listing, the program's highest year-ending national ranking.

Final Sports Network poll
Final FCS Coaches poll

Coming off their most successful season in program history, the Flames football team has added another accolade to its ever-growing 2008 list, with this one coming in the form of its highest final national ranking.

Liberty, who finished the year with a program-best 10-2 record, ended the year ranked No. 14 in the final Sports Network poll and No. 15 in the final FCS Coaches national ranking.

Since joining the Division I ranks just prior to kicking off the 1988 season, the Flames have finished a year with a Top 25 national ranking five times. Liberty did so first in 1988, when an 8-3 Flames finished the year ranked No. 20 in the Football Gazette's final Top 25 listing.

In 1992, a 7-4 Liberty program won four out its last five games to finish the year ranked No. 19 in both the NCAA I-AA and Sports Networks polls.

The Flames matched the number twice more, starting in 1995 when an 8-3 squad finished the campaign ranked No. 19 in the Football Gazette's last annual list.

Much like this year's squad, the 1997 team knocked off two Top 25 programs, including a thrilling 25-19 road victory over No. 15 Appalachian State to end the year with a 9-2 record. For their efforts, the Flames were ranked No. 19 in the last AP/USA Today ranking, No. 20 in the final Sports Network poll and No. 21 in the season-ending Football Gazette listing.

This year, the Flames entered the Top 25 when the Sports Network ranked the Flames No. 25 on Sept. 8, beginning a record-setting streak where Liberty remained nationally ranked for the following 12 weeks.

The Flames nationally ranking climbed as high as No. 14 on two different occasions. Following Liberty reeling off 11 straight victories and its fifth shutout under head coach Danny Rocco in a 33-0 blanking of Big South newcomer Stony Brook, the Flames were ranked No. 14 by the Sports Network on Oct. 13.

Liberty matched the season-high mark in the Sports Network's final listing, following the Flames' convincing 26-3 victory over No. 12/14 Elon to close out the year at home on Nov. 22.

Under three-time Big South Coach of the Year Rocco, who garnered consideration for several national Coach of the Year honors, the Flames captured their second-straight Big South title and reached the 10-win plateau for the first time in program history.

Besides knocking off the previously mentioned Phoenix to close out the campaign, the Flames also beat No. 23 Youngstown State on the road, the week following the Penguins' stunning victory over No. 2 North Dakota State.

Liberty's high-powered offense, which ranked No. 9 in total offense (446.67 yards per game) and No. 17 in scoring offense (33.67 points per game), allowed the Flames to finish the year as one of 11 FCS programs to reach the 10-win mark.