Flames lose second game in a row to St. Francis University

  • The Flames struggled to maintain momentum and threw two interceptions that contributed to their second loss of the season.
  • Both the Red Flashes and the Flames struggle to get on the scoreboard in 13-7 game.

After averaging 49 points through their first three games, the Flames failed to score more than 10 points for the second consecutive week in their 13-7 loss against St. Francis University Saturday, Sept. 30.

Liberty hoped to rebound against St. Francis, after suffering its first loss of the season 31-10 at Jacksonville State Saturday, Sept. 23. However, the Flames effort was stopped cold by the Red Flash’s defense, which has only allowed two touchdowns through their first five games this season.

“I tip my hat off to St. Francis,” head coach Turner Gill said. “They were very sound. Our guys played hard. They got after it, we just didn’t execute to the best of our abilities. We’ll learn from this game, we’ll move forward. Our guys stayed together as a football team. I liked their effort at the end, they kept fighting, kept trying to give us a chance – unfortunately we came up short.”

The game began as a defensive stalemate with both teams combining for 13 punts before either team could get on the scoreboard.

St. Francis finally broke the scoring drought on a 9-yard touchdown pass with only 18 seconds left in the first half. But before the Red Flash could finish celebrating, the Flames blocked the extra point attempt and nearly returned the kick before getting tackled just two yards shy of the end zone.

Despite trailing 6-0, the Flames were unable to find an answer to the Red Flash’s defense and were forced to punt on the first possession of the third quarter. The Flames defense also persisted and held St. Francis to a punt six plays later.

On the Flames next offensive play, the momentum seemed to shift after junior running back Kentory Matthews broke loose on a 37-yard run to the Flames 44-yard line. Two plays later, St. Francis forced a fumble and recovered the ball at its own 48-yard line.

Liberty’s defense continued to match the intensity of St. Francis, and held them to their fifth three-and-out of the half. However, on the Flames ensuing play, the Red Flash recorded its second turnover of the game with an interception at its own 42-yard line.

Five plays later, St. Francis capitalized on the interception by scoring on a 23-yard touchdown catch, increasing its lead to 13-0.

With 4:32 left in the third quarter, the Flames started their drive from their own 35-yard line, determined to get on the scoreboard. For the first time in the game, the Flames offense showed life as it marched down the field with the help of the short passing game. Eight plays into the drive, the Flames had a first-and-10 on the St. Francis 11-yard line.

Three plays later, the Flames found themselves facing a fourth-and-one from the two-yard line, and while trailing 13-0 elected not to attempt the field goal. Senior running back Carrington Mosley took a handoff up the middle and was stopped short of the first down marker, ending the Flames drive and the momentum shift.

The Red Flash took possession with 50 seconds left in the third quarter, and a chance to put the game out of reach. The Flames eventually forced St. Francis to punt, but not before the Red Flash took five minutes off the clock, leaving the Flames with 10:34 left in the game to try and rally back.

Liberty’s efforts were abruptly cut short on the third play of its drive as sophomore quarterback Stephen Calvert was intercepted for the second time on the day. With the hope of a comeback on the line, the Flames defense stood their ground and made St. Francis go three-and-out again.

On the Flames following drive, the Red Flash’s defense answered back by forcing Liberty to go three-and-out, giving St. Francis the ball back with seven minutes left in the game.

The Flames defense was tasked with keeping the game alive as St. Francis started from its own 19-yard line with hopes of running the clock out. Though the Flames conceded two first downs, they were able to hold St. Francis to a punt after eight plays and only 22 yards.

Liberty made quick use of its time, by going 77-yards in seven plays, and finishing the drive on a 32-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Cephas Reddick on fourth down. The Flames’ ensuing onside kick was recovered by St. Francis, forcing the Flames defense to make a stand once again.

Despite the Red Flash gaining 11 yards on the first play of its drive, the Flames defense held St. Francis on the following three plays to force a fourth-and-one for the Red Flash. St. Francis elected to go for it on fourth down, but was held on downs by the Flames defense.

Liberty began its final drive from its own 24-yard line, with 44 seconds remaining in the game. On the next play, Calvert completed a screen pass to Reddick for 12 yards, and an additional 15 yards was added on after St. Francis received an unsportsmanlike penalty.

The Flames hope of a comeback quickly died on the following play when Calvert was sacked and stripped of the ball, which was recovered by the Red Flash, sealing the game.

“We can’t just live with this loss on our head,” team captain and linebacker Soloman McGinty said. “If we’re going to be successful later on, we need to focus on the next week. It’s one game, we’ve still got a whole schedule ahead of us. There’s no fingers pointed, but we’ve got to take it on our heads.”

The Flames return to William Stadium Saturday, Oct. 14, to matchup against Kennesaw State University during Homecoming weekend at 6 p.m.

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