Flames conquer the Monarchs and remain unbeaten through 10 games for the first time in school history
The undefeated No. 25 Liberty Flames football team welcomed a Commonwealth foe to the Mountain Nov. 11, as the Old Dominion Monarchs entered Williams Stadium on a sunlit afternoon.
The Monarchs, one week removed from a painful loss to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, approached the game with sheer desperation, seeking to secure bowl eligibility before the season’s end.
The challenge that lay before them, however, was a Flames offense that had been virtually uncontainable through its first nine games of the season. That offense proved electric once again, as Liberty drove to a 38-10 victory over the Monarchs.
“The winning is a byproduct of the way we play,” Liberty Head Coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We’re playing for each other. We’re playing for the guy beside us, and we’re gonna do it for four quarters … All the credit goes to these players.”
Chadwell’s offense went to work from the first snap with a pair of decent runs from junior running back Quinton Cooley and senior running back Aaron Bedgood that set sophomore quarterback Kaidon Salter up to find one of his favorite passing threats.
On a crucial 4th and 4, Salter dropped back and lofted a dime to junior wide receiver CJ Daniels, who reached over the head of Monarchs defensive back Nolan Johnson to secure the pass. Daniels toppled into the end zone, earning the day’s first touchdown.
When the Monarchs sent their unit out in search of a response, they were promptly shut down. Liberty’s defense quelled the 8-play drive with a stout defensive front, walking away from the drive scoreless.
With the ball back in its hands, Liberty executed an 8-play, 53-yard drive that was aided by Monarchs pass interference on Daniels. The costly penalty gave Salter optimal field position to find the end zone just a few plays later, putting his team up 14-0. The quarterback flushed out to his left, searching for support before taking the ball in himself.
“Our offensive line executed. The game plan got changed, and they executed it perfectly,” Salter said. “The coaches, the way that everything was planned out and executed in the first half was all on the coaches and everything that we prepared for.”
Searching for its first score of the day, Old Dominion and its quarterback Grant Wilson simply couldn’t escape Liberty’s relentless pass rush. Liberty defensive tackle Chris Boti and a swarm of Flames enveloped Wilson, putting the Monarchs in a lofty 3rd-and-19. Wilson dropped back in hopes of gaining enough yardage to move the chains but instead sent his pass in the direction of senior safety Quinton Reese, who celebrated after recording his first interception of the season.
Salter and Liberty’s offense took advantage of the defensive excellence, putting together a methodical 11-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with yet another rushing touchdown from the Flames’ quarterback. Salter found a seam in his offensive line, trotting in to extend the score to 21-0.
The Texas native ended the day with 41 yards on the ground.
The show continued on the ensuing offensive drive, as Salter located senior wide receiver Noah Frith and launched a deep ball. Frith, battling Old Dominion safety Tahj Ra-El for the 42-yard touchdown reception. Frith’s touchdown was his second on the season.
With the score now reaching 28-0, the Monarchs sought to find any life in the midst of the menacing Flames defense. It took 11 plays for Wilson to set his team up in field goal range, finally putting their first three points on the board.
Before the half found its end, CJ Daniels intended to give his team another seven. The receiver secured a back-shoulder fade from his quarterback, and Flames fans sent deafening cheers throughout Williams Stadium.
Daniels finished the day with 137 yards, just 20 shy of his career single-game record (157).
“Every week, he’s doing what he does. He makes tough catches, makes them over the middle,” Chadwell said. “He’s good enough to where if he gets those one-on-ones, he’s gonna make the catch more times than not … Each week he’s gotten better at making plays.”
The wild two quarters of action were followed by a silent third, consisting of a lone Liberty field goal.
As the fourth quarter arrived, Old Dominion and its signal-caller simply had no answer. On a 4th and 7 from Liberty’s 13-yard line, Wilson’s pass got away from him, sailing to the left of the intended receiver Javon Harvey.
The Monarchs’ next offensive drive came shortly after, but was ended by the enforcing play of freshman defensive end TJ Bush. The defensive line had its best game of the season, notching 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss on the day.
“I feel like we did better today playing as a team … it all started at practice, day one on Monday,” sophomore defensive tackle Bryce Dixon said. “We all started with a good attitude knowing that we have to get better this week. It’s not just gonna start in the game, it’s gonna start in the days leading up to the game.”
While Old Dominion managed to put a touchdown on the board in the game’s dying moments, the early surge from Liberty’s offense left the Monarchs without a chance.
As the sun set over the towers of Williams Stadium, the Flames furthered their most impressive record in program history to 10-0. The evident 38-10 beatdown of the Sun Belt opponent spoke volumes to the relentless mindset of the team that has yet to let up on the gridiron this season.
“We talked to our team this week about earning respect. Liberty and our conference doesn’t get the respect it deserves,” Chadwell said. “I don’t want to hear that we don’t play anybody. Our conference got us prepared for this game, and you saw what happened out there.”
Liberty will play host next to the UMass Minutemen Nov. 18 for a 1 p.m. kickoff, before concluding its conference slate away against UTEP Nov. 25.
Cory is the sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X