Flames head west

Battling — Liberty Flames prepare to face off against the Grizzlies. Photo credit: Elliot Mosher

After a difficult loss against No.24-ranked Norfolk State Spartans in Liberty’s home opener Saturday, Sept. 8 the Liberty Flames football team focuses on their upcoming matchup with the Montana Grizzlies.

Grizzlies bring a ground gain

The Grizzlies played from behind when they faced Appalachian State and lost 35-27 over the past weekend, which dropped their record to 1-1 on the season.

Quarterback Trent McKinney is a stat stuffer and a defensive coordinator’s nightmare, dangerous with both his arm and legs. Along with running backs Dan Moore and Peter Nguyen, McKinney completes their three-headed monster on the ground. During the first two games of the season, these three have averaged 396 yards rushing.

The Flames defense did not have any questions to answer after its game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but they will need to address their run defense. The Flames allowed over 250 yards on the ground, most of it coming from Spartans running back Brendan Riddick. He ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns.

Staying consistent

After two games, it is obvious the Flames play at a high-intensity level. However, they will need that high intensity for an entire game.

At matches against both the Demon Deacons and the Spartans, the Flames have had an early lead, only to watch it evaporate during the course of the game. Going into Washington-Grizzly stadium in Missoula, Mont., it will be important for the Flames to stay on top and keep the 25,000 fans quiet.

Not a good sign

In Saturday’s game, the Flames lost starting offensive guard Malcolm Boyd to an apparent leg injury in the first quarter. Boyd, a senior, was not only the leader on the offensive line, but also an All-Conference and All-American this season.

Quarterback Brian Hudson, who finished the game against the Spartans passing for 144 yards and a touchdown, left the game late in the fourth quarter with an unknown injury. Hudson’s injury may not be serious, and he should be available to play against the Grizzlies.

With the 31-24 loss to Norfolk State, the Flames fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2003. The Flames also had their nine-game home opening winning streak, and a four-game home winning streak dating back to last season snapped. Against the Grizzlies, the Flames will also try to avoid a 0-3 start to the season, which would be the first since 2003.

Going West

The Flames will travel to Missoula, Mont., to face the Montana Grizzlies Saturday, Sept.15 at 3:30. It will be their longest trip in 12 years.

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