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Back to Back! Blocked Field Goal Seals No. 23/23 Liberty's 37-34 Cure Bowl Win Over No. 9/11 Coastal

December 26, 2020  Orlando, Fla.   RSS
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Postgame Notes

Postgame Quotes

 Game Recap: Coastal Carolina

 Top Plays: Coastal Carolina

 Postgame Press Conference: Coach Freeze

 Postgame Press Conference: Malik Willis

 Postgame Press Conference: Javon Scruggs

 Postgame Press Conference: Elijah James

Liberty's Elijah James blocked a game-ending field goal attempt in overtime, securing No. 23/23 Liberty's 37-34 win over No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina in the 2020 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, Saturday at Camping World Stadium.   

The Flames finished their second season of full FBS bowl eligibility with a 10-1 record, winning the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl for the second year in a row. Liberty is just the second team (also Appalachian State) to win bowl games in each of its first two seasons of bowl eligibility following a transition from the FCS. Liberty snapped Coastal Carolina's (11-1) 12-game winning streak, which was tied for the longest FBS winning streak in the nation.

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was named Cure Bowl MVP after totaling 357 yards of offense and rushing for a Cure Bowl-record four touchdowns.

Liberty earned its first-ever win over an FBS Top 25 program and knocked Coastal Carolina from the ranks of the unbeaten for the second time ever. The Flames defeated then 11-0 CCU by a 15-14 score on a last-second blocked field goal on Nov. 22, 2014.

Liberty is now 8-7 all-time against Coastal Carolina, with four out of the last five meetings being decided by three points or fewer. The Flames are 7-9 in overtime games in program history and 1-2 in overtime versus the Chanticleers.

Coastal Carolina held a slight 483-475 advantage in total yards, outgaining the Flames 318-220 through the air. However, Liberty led 255-165 in rushing yards. The Chanticleers scored six points off of three Liberty turnovers, while the Flames turned their one takeaway into seven points.  

For the fourth time this season, Liberty had two 100-yard rushers. Willis rushed for 137 yards on 21 carries, with a Liberty quarterback record four TDs. Willis also went 19-for-29 passing with 220 yards and two interceptions. Joshua Mack ran the ball 14 times for 105 yards. Alex Barbir went 3-for-3 on field goals and 4-for-4 on PATs. Javon Scruggs totaled eight tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. 

Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall threw for 318 yards on 21-of-32 passing, with three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 15 times for 96 yards and a score. Jaivon Heiligh caught 13 passes for 178 yards, while Isaiah Likely caught a touchdown and Greg Latushko finished with two touchdown receptions.

Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 37-34 Liberty (OT)
Liberty (10-1)
Coastal Carolina (11-1)
Location: Camping World Stadium Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)
Attendance: 4,488     

Turning Point:
After a wild fourth quarter in which Coastal Carolina outscored Liberty 15-10 to tie it at 34-34, a Mack fumble on the Chanticleers' one-yard line set up a thrilling overtime session.

With Liberty holding a 37-34 lead after a Barbir field goal, James blocked a Coastal Carolina field goal attempt to secure the win for the Flames.

Play-By-Play Breakdown:
First Quarter
• After stopping Coastal Carolina on fourth-and-2 on the first possession of the game, the Flames took the ball 64 yards on 10 plays, with Willis' five-yard touchdown rush giving Liberty a 7-0 lead.

• The Flames doubled their lead to 14-0 when Willis capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run just before the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter
• With Liberty driving, Willis was intercepted at the Chanticleers' 27-yard line. Coastal Carolina turned the takeaway into three points, driving down to Liberty's 4-yard line before Massimo Biscardi put CCU on the scoreboard with a field goal.

• Coastal Carolina narrowed the gap to 14-10 when McCall found Likely with a 25-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-play, 62-yard drive.

• The Flames and Chanticleers traded field goals in the final minute of the first half, leaving Liberty with a 17-13 halftime lead.

Third Quarter
• Willis drove Liberty inside Coastal's 10-yard line on the first possession of the second half, but his pass to Demario Douglas was intercepted in the end zone. 
• Coastal drove past midfield, but Scruggs intercepted McCall's pass and returned it 59 yards to the Chanticleers' 10. Willis scored on the next play, pushing Liberty's lead to 11 points.
• The Chanticleers answered on their ensuing possession, with McCall's 43-yard touchdown strike to Greg Latushko drawing the Chanticleers to within 24-19.

Fourth Quarter
• Willis scored his fourth rushing touchdown just 1:38 into the fourth quarter, making it 31-19 Flames.

• McCall then engineered a five-play, 77-yard drive and took it in himself from one-yard out to trim the gap to 31-26 with 10:34 left in the game.

• Barbir nailed a 32-yard field goal with 5:03 remaining, pushing Liberty's lead to 34-26.

• Coastal Carolina tied it up at 34-all with a 72-yard touchdown drive and a successful two-point conversion, leaving 3:01 on the clock.

• Liberty drove all the way down to the one-yard line, but a Mack fumble gave Coastal the ball back with 41 seconds left. The Chanticleers ran the clock out on regulation, forcing overtime.

Overtime
• Liberty got the ball first in overtime, and after three plays from scrimmage, Barbir's 44-yard field goal made it 37-34 Liberty. Following three incomplete passes on Coastal Carolina's possession, Biscardi's 42-yard field goal was blocked by James.

What's Next
Liberty has closed out its most successful season in program history. The Flames will be in search of their third straight bowl game appearance next season, their third year as a fully bowl-eligible program. The 2021 campaign begins for Liberty on Sept. 4, as the Flames are scheduled to host Campbell at Williams Stadium.