Following their best defensive performance of the year a week ago, the Flames found themselves in another offensive shootout on Saturday where Liberty finished on top for a 48-41 Homecoming Weekend victory over Idaho State.
For the third time this year, Liberty and its opponent finished a game with a combined 1,000 total offensive yards: Liberty (568) vs. New Mexico (580) – 1,148 yards; Liberty (518) vs. New Mexico State (567) – 1,085 yards; Liberty (552) vs. Idaho State (631) – 1,183 yards.
Stephen Calvert led the Flames with his 12th 300-yard game of his career, finishing the game with 362 passing yards (32-of-48) and two touchdowns. With the junior's pair of touchdown passes, Calvert (60) joined Robby Justino (64) and Josh Woodrum (61) as the only quarterbacks in program history with 60 or more career touchdown passes.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, who missed the Troy game with an illness, made a dramatic return, posting his ninth career 100-yard game with 10 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns. DJ. Stubbs posted his third 100-yard game of the year, finishing the contest with eight receptions for 108 yards.
Frankie Hickson surpassed the 100-yard mark for the second time this year and third of his career, finishing the game with 22 carries for 133 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Box Score Highlights: Final Score: 48-41 Liberty (4-3) Idaho State (4-3, 3-1 Big Sky) Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.) Attendance: 16,502
Leading by three and deep in their own territory, Liberty got a key third-down conversion from Calvert who completed a 23-yard pass over the middle of the field to Stubbs on a third-and-15 play from its own 33-yard line.
The third-down conversion allowed the Flames to keep a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive alive that ended with Peytton Pickett scoring from two yards out with 7:35 left in the game to put the Flames up 41-31.
Pickett's team-leading eighth rushing touchdown of the season gave Liberty its fourth 10-point lead of the contest and a two-score cushion that Idaho State could not overcome.
First Quarter • The Flames opened the game with their longest scoring drive of the season, taking 6:36 off the clock on a 15-play drive that was capped by a six-yard rushing touchdown by Frankie Hickson. The 78-yard drive gave Liberty a 7-0 edge at the 8:24 mark. • The Bengals looked like they might respond on the following drive, but Tanner Gueller's downfield pass to Michael Dean was intercepted by the Flames' Corbin Jackson at the Liberty 17-yard line, his second career interception.
Second Quarter • Idaho State pieced together its own lengthy scoring drive to trim Liberty's lead to 7-3 on a 31-yard field goal by Campbell Sheidow 10 seconds into the second quarter. The 14-play, 86-yard drive saw the Bengals convert on a pair of third-down plays to keep the drive alive. • Both teams scored on their following drive, give Liberty a 13-10 lead at the 10:09 mark. Liberty's nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive ended on a 29-yard touchdown reception by Antonio Gandy-Golden. Idaho State's four-play, 73-yard drive was keyed by a 59 yard run up the middle by Ty Flanagan. • The teams had matching quick scoring drives to end the first half, allowing the Flames to take a 20-17 lead into the break. Following a Flames' fumble recovery, Peytton Pickett scored from three yards out with 1:51 left before the break. A Bengals' 40-yard kickoff return set up a 21-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Gueller to Mitch Gueller, his older brother, with 16 seconds remaining before halftime.
Third Quarter • Idaho State was the first team to strike during the second half, giving the visitors their first lead of the afternoon at 10:01, 24-20. A deep pass downfield by Calvert was picked off by Idaho State in the end zone and five plays later, Gueller found Dean open over the middle for a 57-yard touchdown reception. • The Flames' defense made a key stop the next time the Bengals had the ball when Isaac Steele intercepted Gueller for the ISU quarterback's second pick of the day. Two plays later, Calvert tossed a pass up for Gandy-Golden who came down with a 37-yard touchdown reception, giving Liberty a three-point edge 27-24 and the lead for good.
Fourth Quarter • A 23-yard completion to Stubbs from Calvert kept Liberty's 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive alive midway through the fourth quarter. Pickett finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown at 7:35, pushing Liberty's lead to 41-31. • The Bengals pushed the Flames until the final seconds of the game when the Gueller brother connection accounted for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to pull Idaho State within seven at 48-41. Liberty recovered the ensuing on-side kick to end the visitors final attempt to rally for the road win.
Following their bye week, Liberty begins a three-game road swing when the Flames travel to Amherst, Mass., to begin a new eight-year series with UMass. Liberty's first of four trips to Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium over the next eight years will be on Nov. 3.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 Location: Amherst, Mass. (Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium) Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg) TV: Eleven Sports Network Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
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