No problem

Summers, Hyland pull through for Flames


Monster day — Aldreakis Allen (20) rushed for 140 yards, and two touchdowns in the Flames double overtime thriller against Presbyterian. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

In the second running of an overtime joust, Liberty University quarterback Mike Brown lobbed an end zone pass to 6’4” wide receiver Chris Summers. Summers plucked the ball from the air just before a crashing free safety could disrupt the play. Liberty goes up 27-20.


The defense must hold the visiting Presbyterian Blue Hose to secure the young lead. Liberty middle linebacker Nick Sigmon busts up a quarterback draw to set up a 3-11.

The Blue Hose line up in a spread, 3-by-1 formation. Sophomore backer Scott Hyland shades inside and comes on a blitz. The guard double-teams the nose tackle and Hyland slams through the gap, sacking Blue Hose quarterback Ryan Singer, effectively ending the game.

One incomplete pass later, the Flames faithful, “The Bonfire,” poured onto the field to celebrate the victory with their team.

“(We knew) that if we played our defense, we could shut them down,” Sigmon said. “Everybody was in the right spot for the play to happen.”


“Big time players have to be at their best in critical moments,” head coach Danny Rocco said. (Summers) was there for us and we’re very happy to walk out of here with a 27-20 victory.

Saturday’s double-overtime thriller was a rose of a different color than what is typical for Rocco’s usual offensive conflagrations.

At kickoff, in Liberty’s previous three Big South contests, the Flames sparked early, chasmic leads, outscoring opponents by a combined 101-0 (Gardner-Webb 21-0; Coastal, 42-0; Charleston Southern 38-0).

Saturday afternoon, the Flames listened to Rocco’s halftime speech with only a three-point lead.

Offensive momentum was interrupted by penalties, turnovers and poor execution.

“I kept telling myself and my teammates, it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish,” Brown said. “You can play terribly for three and a half quarters and if you play good for that last half of a quarter, you can still come out on top and that was the thing that pulled us through tonight.”

To skin a cat

Liberty found the big-play button late in the fourth quarter. It could have been desperation. It could have been determination. It could have been both.

Ervin Garner returned a punt 41 yards to set up a Flames touchdown, putting Liberty up 13-10 with 1:32 left.

But, Presbyterian drove 50 yards to kick a field goal and force overtime in the waning seconds of the game.

Blue Hose junior wide-receiver Michael Ruff scored on the first overtime play — a 25-yard end-around.

Aldreakis Allen answered by stretching the football over the goal line after the change of possession, evening the score at 20, all around.


Brown and Summers did their thing, Sigmon and Hyland theirs. Game over, Liberty 27-20.
“When you’re called on,” Hyland said, “You gotta answer the bell.”


“I knew today we’d get their best shot,” Rocco said. “I told our kids all week long we’re going to get their best shot until we show them that their best shot isn’t good enough … we responded at the end and that’s really what it’s all about.”

Counting Cards

Liberty’s narrowly won fight lifts them to a perfect 4-0 Big South record and 6-3 overall, becoming the first Big South team in league history to attain such a conference record five consecutive seasons.

Ryan Singer’s escape for a 74-yard touchdown was the first rushing touchdown the Flames have allowed to Big South ball carriers this year.

Redshirt-sophomore running back Aldreakis Allen’s 140 rushing yards set a career-high for the redshirt sophomore, breaking his previous high, 126 yards, set just last week at Charleston Southern.

The Blue Hose fall to 2-6 on the year and dip below the .500 conference record mark, sinking to 1-2.

Closing Remarks

“The reality is this,” Rocco said. “If you’re going to make a run, if you’re going to win a championship, you’re going to have to win ugly somewhere along the way … you’re going to have to win a game like this somewhere along the way, and we did today.”

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