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Liberty Athletics Mourns the Passing of Tom Dowling

January 9, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Flames Head Football Coach Tom Dowling with Liberty University Founder Dr. Jerry Falwell.

Flames Head Football Coach Tom Dowling with Liberty University Founder Dr. Jerry Falwell.

The Liberty University Athletics Department is mourning the loss of former Flames Head Football Coach Tom Dowling, the third head coach of Liberty's football program. Dowling passed away on Sunday following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dowling served as Liberty's head football coach from 1977-83, finishing his seven-year stint as head coach with a 33-38-2 overall record. Dowling is the fourth winningest head coach in program history.

Dowling coached Liberty's first-ever All-Americans when running back Kim Raynor and offensive lineman Scott Goetz were selected to the 1977 Churchmen's All-America second team. A total of 14 players earned All-America honors during Dowling's leadership as head coach.

The native of Springfield, Ky., guided the Flames to a 9-1-1 record in 1979, marking the second-highest season win total in program history. Following the 1979 season, tight end Steve Kearns was drafted by the British Columbia Lions of the CFL, becoming the first player in program history to be selected in a professional draft and to play at the professional level.

Dowling helped the Flames move up through the collegiate ranks during this seven seasons on Liberty Mountain. Liberty moved from the NAIA level to the NCAA Division II level as an associate member in 1980 and gained full status as a NCAA Division II program in 1981.

Liberty faced it's first-ever NCAA Division I opponent under Dowling when the Flames played James Madison on Oct. 11, 1980, and defeated Morehead State, 23-20, for the program's first victory over an NCAA Division I program later the same season on Nov. 8.

Dowling is survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Mary Ann Garnett Dowling; two sisters, Marian Chamberlain, and Martha Durbin; four special nieces, Robin Pomeroy, Lesley Littlejohn, Helen Williams, Christy Conner; several cousins, and numerous friends, coaches and former players.

Dowling's funeral service will be Thursday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m., at the John L. Hill Chapel on the campus of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. Rev. Alan Redditt, Rev. Ken Holden, Coach Mike Ayers and Coach Charlie Persson will officiate the service.

Link to Tom Dowling full obituary.

Former Flames football coaches John Cartwright (left - 1974-76), Tom Dowling (center - 1977-83) and Morgan Hout (right - 1984-88) at Liberty's 2010 season opener vs. St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4 at Lynchburg's City Stadium.