Flames football turns game around to beat Duquesne Dukes
- Strong offense and defense led to a rainy-day 27-24 Liberty victory over the Dukes on Parent’s Weekend.
- Comeback came after a first half that many believed would result in a blowout for the Dukes.
When the Duquesne Dukes led the Flames 24-10 at half, many of the Liberty supporters began to assume the game would turn into a blowout. However, Liberty shocked the Dukes by scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Duquesne 27-24.
“I’m proud of this football team and the way that they responded,” head coach Turner Gill said. “Again, a lot of unfortunate things happened in the game, but I think they demonstrated their love for each other. They demonstrated the way they want to play the game of football.”
Senior running back Carrington Mosley led the way for the Flames, as he posted a career-high 151 rushing yards. Mosley also ran for two touchdowns, including a score with over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game winner.
“They had been holding on to the lead for a long time,” Mosley said. “We had been going down the field and just stalling at times. And then we finally got into a rhythm, and you could tell they were playing not to lose. We knew that we had to make plays and execute.”
Throughout the game the rain persistently fell on the field, which contributed to another slow first half start for the Flames offense. Liberty was able to score on its second possession when Mosley found the end zone on a six-yard run, but the Flames were only able to produce a field goal for the rest of the half.
On the other hand, Duquesne executed on both sides of the ball to capitalize on the Flames sluggish start.
The Dukes answered the Flames opening touchdown on their very next play, with a 79-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 7-7. After forcing the Flames to punt on their next possession, the Dukes continued the momentum by driving 90 yards in 10 plays, capped off with a 25-yard touchdown catch to take a 14-7 lead.
Three minutes into the second quarter the Dukes fumbled at their own 34-yard line. But the Flames were unable to capitalize off the turnover as sophomore kicker Alex Probert missed his second field goal of the day, seven plays later.
The Dukes increased its lead to 17-7 on their following drive with a 36-yard field goal. Duquesne held Liberty to a three-and-out on their following possession, and then scored on a 49-yard run four plays later, to heighten their lead to 24-7 with three minutes remaining in the half.
Determined not to enter the half down by three touchdowns, the Flames drove 48 yards in 11 plays to produce a 42-yard field goal from Probert, leaving the score 24-10 at half.
At the start of the second half, the Flames defense set the tone for a comeback, with an interception from freshman safety Ceneca Espinoza Jr. However, the Flames offense continued to struggle as they went three-and-out, and then Probert’s 48-yard field goal attempt was blocked by the Dukes.
Liberty’s defense continued to hold the momentum for the Flames by forcing the Dukes to a three-and-out.
The Flames offense finally came to life as they drove 70-yards in 10 plays. Liberty’s drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert to junior receiver B.J. Farrow to shorten the lead to 24-17.
The Dukes took the ball with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter, six plays later the Flames relentless defense forced Duquesne to punt again, giving the Flames offense a chance to tie the game.
On the following drive, Liberty converted three third down plays before finding themselves in a third-and goal opportunity from the 10-yard line. Liberty was unable to convert, but came away with a field goal, to cut the lead to 24-20 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Both teams were unable to produce any points on their following drives.
With under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Flames were losing 24-20 but had the Dukes pinned deep at their own 12-yard line.
On first down the Dukes sophomore running back A.J. Hines took a sweep to the right side of his offensive line and then bounced outside to the right. Hines attempted to cut upfield, but the ball was stripped from his grasp and recovered by Flames linebacker Lucas Irons.
“I wouldn’t give me so much credit,” Irons said. “I have to give it to my cornerback. He ran a stretch play, and my corner turned it back in to me and I saw the ball and I made a play on it.”
Four plays later, Mosley sprinted into the end zone to give the Flames the lead, and brought the crowd to its feet.
The Flames defense held the Dukes offense on four consecutive plays on the following drive to seal the 27-24 victory.
“I’m proud of our football team to come back,” Gill said. “It takes a lot of discipline to play that kind of game in the conditions that there were. They didn’t let those things interfere with what they were trying to accomplish.”
Next week, the Flames will play their final regular season home game against Presbyterian before concluding the regular season at Charleston Southern the following week.