Football wins battle of turnovers
The Liberty Flames’ 44-20 victory Saturday night against conference rival Charleston Southern was reminiscent of a lounging teen pestered by his annoying kid brother resulting in a mostly one-sided, multi-level brawl in the living room.
Level 1: The bantering
For the first six consecutive drives of the game, both teams squared off, hollering their threats and “I’m gonnas” without much real action, much like two brothers on each side of a room verbally jockeying for an unsubstantiated upper-hand. Liberty punted on each of its three first possessions. Charleston punted, threw an interception and punted.
The first swat at the kid came in Liberty’s fourth drive of the first quarter. Mike Brown found SirChauncey Holloway in the end zone on a one-yard play-action dump. This was after Brown was denied completions to his favorite target Chris Summers three consecutive times.
“Their kids played extremely hard and they certainly made this a dogfight,” Flames head coach Danny Rocco said.
More of the metaphorical jawing ensued — Charleston punted, Liberty coughed up an interception and Charleston punted again.
The Buccaneers tacked on a 10-play, 80-yard drive to score and bring the game within a touchdown. Liberty trotted into the locker room at the half, settling for a Matt Bevins field goal and a vulnerable 16-7 lead.
“Offensively, (it) really was a game of inconsistency,” Rocco said. “We had some good plays, some chunks of yards, which allowed us to score points and to win the football game, but we did not have the kind of consistency that you need to have to make you a really good football team. And again I commend their defense.”
Level 2: the prods
The second half opened with the next plateau in sibling dynamic — the noogies, wedgies, wet-willies and every other frustrating prod that led to the eventual barnburner. Brown tossed two more interceptions to CSU corner Charles James, trying to find Summers on each. CSU fumbled twice, one caused by a punishing hit by Liberty linebacker Kyle O’Donnell. The fumble was the turning point in Liberty’s brawl.
“(The first quarter was like) one first down after another. It seemed like we couldn’t get off the field,” senior defensive back Danny Broggins said.
Level 3: the swings
In the fourth quarter, the teen had had enough.
Liberty linebacker Chris Mayo blasted CSU quarterback A.J. Trudnowski for a 12-yard sack-fumble, giving Liberty the ball at the Charleston 33-yard line. Brown carried the ball into the end zone on a 7-yard scamper, putting the Flames up 23-14.
Patrick Bannon crushed CSU receiver Deon Lee and forced him to fumble. Danny Broggins recovered at the CSU 25.
“Defensively we were inconsistent but when we were good we were really good,” Rocco said. “We had some big physical hits.”
From there, Liberty scored on touchdowns from Brown and Summers and ended the game with a “humph,” 44-20.
“I’m very happy that we won the football game,” Rocco said. “Charleston Southern is an extremely well-coached team. I want to commend them on their effort.”
With the win, the Flames move to 1-0 in the conference and look to continue their winning streak against defensive powerhouse VMI in Lexington Oct. 16.
BROWN is the asst. sports editor.