Postgame Notes and Quotes Top Plays: New Mexico State
For the second straight week, Liberty pulled out a seven-point victory in a defensive struggle against an opponent from New Mexico. This time around, Joshua Mack's four-yard touchdown run with 6:19 to play proved to be the winning score in the Flames' 20-13 triumph at New Mexico State, Saturday evening at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Liberty's defense forced all three of the game's turnovers, with the biggest coming at the 3:15 mark of the fourth quarter. The Aggies had driven inside the Flames' 10-yard line, seeking a game-tying touchdown. But Jessie Lemonier stripped quarterback Josh Adkins and Solomon Ajayi came up with a game-saving fumble recovery.
Liberty successfully ran out the clock, improving to 4-2 with its fourth straight victory. The triumph snapped the Flames' five-game road losing streak and extended New Mexico State's losing streak to eight straight games. The Aggies remain winless on the season at 0-6 after losing their first of two meetings with the Flames in 2019.
Mack accounted for more than half of Liberty's total offensive yards (177 of 334) for the game, including all 75 yards on the Flames' game-winning fourth quarter drive. The redshirt junior running back posted his first 100-yard game as a Flame, tallying 113 yards and a score on 16 carries. Mack also caught two passes for 64 yards on the night.
New Mexico State outgained the Flames by a 396-334 count, with Adkins completing 20-of-30 passes for 265 yards. But the Aggies managed only one touchdown in five red zone trips, as Liberty held the home team to a pair of field goals and came up with two turnovers (interception and fumble) on the four remaining possessions.
Lemonier spearheaded the Flames' stout defensive effort with a team-high 11 tackles, a sack, 2.5 TFL and a forced fumble. Javon Scruggs and Brandon Tillmon also came up with interceptions.
Box Score Highlights: Final Score: 20-13 Liberty (4-2) New Mexico State (0-6) Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium (Las Cruces, N.M.) Attendance: 23,140
Turning Point: Liberty never trailed and led by as many as 10 points on two occasions. But its first 4-2 start to a season since 2010 was not secure until the closing minutes.
After seeing New Mexico State tie the score at 13-all midway through the fourth quarter, the Flames needed only four plays and 87 seconds to retake the lead. Mack touched the ball all four times, headlined by a big 54-yard screen pass and his aforementioned four-yard TD carry.
The Aggies then used a quick-strike drive of their own, moving 76 yards in six plays before Liberty's crucial fumble recovery on the six-yard line.
Play-By-Play Breakdown: First Quarter
What's Next: Following a bye week, Liberty will return to Williams Stadium on Oct. 19 for its annual Homecoming game. The Flames will match up with Maine for the first time since the 1992 season.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Williams Stadium) TV: ESPN+ Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg) Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. (EST)