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Game Day Central: Charleston Southern

October 21, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Game Day Central: Charleston Southern
Charleston Southern Game Day Central

No. 23 Liberty at Charleston Southern
Charleston, S.C.
Oct. 24, 2009
CSU Stadium (4,000)


Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (EST)

Internet Coverage
Big South Network

Television Coverage
Live TV Coverage:
None

Delayed TV Coverage (Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.):
None

Replay TV Coverage (Oct. 18, 1 p.m.):
None

Radio Coverage (Virginia/North Carolina Radio Network)
Flagship Station:
Flames Sports Network (Radio)
88.3 – Lynchburg, Roanoke, Danville, Va.

Additional Available Networks:
89.5 – Berryville, Va.
103.5 - Clifton Forge, Covington, Va.
95.3 – Culpeper, Va.
89.5 – Winchester, Va.
95.9 – Gainesville, Va.
89.7 - Aquia Harbor, Woodbridge, Dale City, Va.
101.9 – Wytheville, Va.
101.5 – Harrisonburg, Va.
106.5 – Pulaski, Radford, Dublin, Va.
103.7 - South Boston, Va.
96.7 – Charlottesville, Va.
100.3 – Waynesboro, Va.
106.9 – Midlothian, Va.
107.5 - South Hill, Va.
105.1 – Marion, Va.
105.5 - Durham, N.C.
102.5 - Winston - Salem, N.C.
103.7 - Roxboro, N.C.
95.1 - Burlington - Graham, N.C.
98.5 - Creedmoor, N.C.

Today's Game
Saturday's Charleston Southern game marks the lone road game during a seven-week stretch for the Flames. Both teams are coming off their Big South openers, with Liberty rolling to a 58-13 home victory over Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern suffering a heartbreaking 27-20 setback to Gardner-Webb on the road.

Big South Openers
Following Liberty's 58-13 victory over Coastal Carolina last Saturday, the Flames are now 5-3 all-time in their first Big South game of the year. Liberty has won its last three Big South openers, including two 40-point victories. Liberty defeated Charleston Southern, 50-10, in 2007, and used a second-half surge to roll to a 45-point victory over the Chanticleers last weekend.

Looking for the Three-Peat
Liberty enters today's matchup having won its last two Big South road opening games. In 2007, the Flames knocked off Charleston Southern, 50-10, while Liberty recorded a 43-38 win at Coastal Carolina, last year. Since starting league play in 2002, the Flames are 2-5 during their first Big South road game of the year and 7-6 overall in road conference action.

Citing the Series
Today's game will mark the 17th-consecutive season Liberty and Charleston Southern have faced each other on the gridiron, with Liberty holding a 14-2 series advantage. The Flames are 6-1 against the Buccaneers since Big South play started in 2002, including three-straight wins. Liberty is 6-1 when facing the Buccaneers in Charleston and 8-1 when squaring off in the "Hill City."

A Familiar Foe
When Liberty and Charleston Southern take to the field at CSU Stadium on Saturday, it will mark the 17th-straight season the two teams have faced each other. The matchup will make Charleston Southern Liberty's most commonly played opponent, ranking ahead of Gardner-Webb and James Madison, who Liberty has faced 15 times apiece.

Rocco Big Against the Bucs
Liberty is a perfect 3-0 against Charleston Southern since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006. Rocco's first Big South victory came against the Buccaneers, when the Flames knocked off No. 24 ranked Charleston Southern, 34-20, ending a 14-game winning streak for the Buccaneers on Nov. 11, 2006. Liberty has won the last three meetings in the series by an average of 32 points per game (126 points scored to 30 points allowed), including last year's 42-0 shutout by Liberty on Oct. 25.

Home Sweet Home
On Sept. 12, the Flames welcomed North Carolina Central to Williams Stadium, a facility Liberty has called home for the past 20 seasons. The on-campus facility was opened on Oct. 21, 1989, when the Flames rallied for a 37-19 victory over Towson State. Liberty has since won 65.8 percent of its games in the stadium, having posted a 75-39 record at the on-campus facility. In 2007, the Flames went undefeated at home for the second time in program history, posting a school-record 6-0 mark, en route to their Big South title run.

Sensational "Sellouts"
More than an inch of rain might have fallen on Sept. 26, at Williams Stadium, but the steady downpour never dampened the spirits of the crowd on Liberty Mountain. Against No. 6/7 James Madison, Liberty had 15,532 fans fill the stadium, marking the third-largest crowd in program and Big South history. Since head coach Danny Rocco arrived at Liberty, the Flames have filled Williams Stadium beyond capacity 17 out of 23 games. Liberty has posted a 19-4 record during those contests, averaging 13,222 fans per home game.

Noting the Attendance Numbers
Entering today's game with Charleston Southern, Liberty continues to remain among the nation's leaders in home attendance. The Flames rank No. 4 in filling stadium capacity, having filled Williams Stadium at 125.38 percent during its first four home games in 2009. The Flames also rank No. 6 in total home attendance (60,182) and No. 12 in average home attendance (15,046).

Top 10 Performances
A Liberty Flames football ticket has been a hot commodity in 2009, leading to some of the largest crowds in all of FCS nation this year. The attendance figures at all four of Liberty's home games ranked inside the Top 10 for that specific weekend in terms of highest attended home FCS game. Last weekend's Big South matchup with Coastal Carolina, which attracted 14,371 fans, was the ninth-highest attended home FCS game in the country.

Tracking toward a Million
Following last week's Homecoming crowd of 14,371 fans, Liberty has seen 955,818 fans pass through the gates at Williams Stadium since the on-campus facility opened its doors in 1989. Should Liberty continue its current attendance trend (currently averaging 15,045 fans per home game in 2009), Williams Stadium will have its millionth fan pass through the turnstiles next year during Liberty's 2010 home opener, when the Flames debut an expanded Williams Stadium (19,200 seating capacity).

Over 30 percent of the previously mentioned attendance total has accumulated since Danny Rocco took over the program, as a Rocco-coached game has drawn in a total of 304,133 fans over 23 home games.

Record-Setting Crowd
The Flames played their home opener before a Williams Stadium and Big South Conference home record 16,112 fans on Sept. 12. The largest home attendance figure in program history bested the previous high of 15,631 fans during Liberty's Homecoming game against William & Mary on Oct. 18, 2006.

JCTV Jolts Television Coverage
On Sept. 18, Liberty Athletics announced a new television partnership with JCTV, a division of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The deal expanded the Flames Sports Network's (FSN) television coverage by more than 450 television stations around the country on various cable and television providers. JCTV will be carrying Liberty's first five home games on its network, showing Liberty's games on a tape-delayed basis.

Prior to the agreement with JCTV, FSN's television coverage was reaching roughly 40 million homes around the country. FSN's television partners also include networks and stations such as FamilyNet, MASN, WTLU, WRTV, WGGN, KCFT, WAAY, WBGR, WWMB and WPDE.

Defending Their Own House
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have won 19 out of 23 home games, meaning Liberty has won 82.6 percent of its home contests under the skipper, who is in his fourth year at the helm of the program. Liberty was 4-2 under Rocco at home in 2006, a perfect 6-0 in 2007, 5-1 under Rocco in 2008 and 3-1 on Liberty Mountain in 2009.

Conference Consistency
Liberty enters today's Big South match-up with Charleston Southern, having won its last 12 Big South Conference games. The dozen consecutive conference victories is the longest such streak in Big South history, besting Coastal Carolina's eight-straight wins over the course of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Noting the Streak
During Liberty's current 12-game winning streak, the Flames have dominated their opponents, outscoring their foes by an average of 25 points per game (42.3 average points scored to 17.3 average points allowed). Liberty has scored 30 or more points during all 12 of the victories, including five games with 40 or more points.

Fourth and Climbing
Liberty's current 12-game Big South winning streak currently ranks as the longest in Big South history and the fourth-longest active conference winning streak in NCAA FCS football. The only teams in the country to claim longer conference winning streaks are Albany (16 games/Northeast), Appalachian State (15 games/Southern) and South Carolina State (14 games/MEAC).

The Last to Do So
Following back-to-back unbeaten seasons in Big South play, the Flames enter today's match-up with Charleston Southern having reeled off 12-straight conference victories. The last Big South team to down the Flames was the Chanticleers, when No. 22 Coastal Carolina held on for a 28-26 victory over Liberty in Conway, S.C., on Oct. 28, 2006.

Just to be Exact
Head coach Danny Rocco enters today's match-up with Charleston Southern having posted a 12-2 record against Big South teams since taking over the program in 2006. Coastal Carolina (28-26) and Gardner-Webb (27-24) are the only two teams to defeat a Danny Rocco-led program, doing so by a combined five points during the skipper's first two Big South contests.

Prelude to a Title
During the last five seasons, the winner of the Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina game eventually went on to capture the Big South Conference title. Coastal Carolina, won three-straight meetings against the Flames from 2004 to 2006 en route to the Chanticleers three conference titles. Liberty claimed victory over Coastal Carolina in 2007 and 2008, helping secure the Flames' back-to-back title runs. The next five weeks of conference play will determine of Liberty can keep the streak alive, following its 58-13 victory over Coastal Carolina last weekend.

Homecoming Happiness
Last weekend's matchup with Coastal Carolina marked the conclusion of Liberty's annual Homecoming Weekend. The Flames have posted a near 70 percent winning percentage during the annual festive weekend, as Liberty has won 25 of 36 Homecoming football games, including three straight. The Flames have had an offensive explosion during their last three Homecoming games, knocking off Presbyterian, 48-14, in 2007, Charleston Southern, 42-0, in 2008 and Coastal Carolina, 58-13, during his year's matchup.

Finishing Strong
A Danny Rocco-led football program always gets better as the season progresses. During Rocco's first three years at Liberty, the Flames have posted a combined 12-3 record during the final five games of the season, a stretch Liberty begins today against Charleston Southern. During the last five games of the year, Liberty was 3-2 in 2006, 5-0 in 2007 and 4-1 in 2008.

Winning in Style
Three of Liberty's four wins this year have been by sizable margins, as Liberty defeated North Carolina Central by 25 points (35-10), West Virginia Wesleyan by 38 points (45-7) and Coastal Carolina by 45 points (58-13). The victories give Liberty 13 wins under head coach Danny Rocco, where the Flames have won by 25 or more points, meaning 46.4 percent of Rocco's victories have been by a quarter-century margin or larger.

Fifty is Nifty
Liberty is coming off a 58-13 victory over Coastal Carolina, which marked the fourth time the Flames have rolled up 50 or more points on an opponent under head coach Danny Rocco. The Flames also surpassed the 50-point mark against St. Francis, Pa., (68-10), Charleston Southern (50-10) and VMI (73-34), with all three of those games coming in 2007.

Nearly the Big South's Best
Liberty just let a Big South record slip through its fingers, last Saturday, when a Coastal Carolina touchdown with 42 seconds left on the game clock trimmed a 52-point lead back to 45 points. The victory fell just a point shy of the Big South's largest margin of victory in a Big South game. The distinction is currently held by Gardner-Webb, who defeated Charleston Southern by 46 points, 46-0, on Nov. 8, 2003.

Rocco Is Better Against the Best
Despite a 13-point loss to West Virginia on Sept. 5, the Flames are still showing marked improvement under head coach Danny Rocco against the nation's elite programs. Since taking over the program, Liberty has dropped its three games against FBS programs by a combined 34 points (Wake Forest/34-14, Toledo/35-34, West Virginia/33-20). Prior to Rocco's arrival on Liberty Mountain, Liberty lost its last FBS contest by 59 points, in a 59-0 shutout against Connecticut on Sept. 10, 2005.

Back Against the Best
The Flames' 2008 schedule snapped a near-decade run against the nation's top level of collegiate football, as Liberty had faced a FBS opponent in nine-straight seasons. Prior to 2008, the last time Liberty did not have a FBS opponent on its slate was in 1998.

During the nine-year run, Liberty faced programs such as South Florida, Marshall, UCF, Akron, Toledo, Bowling Green, Kent State, Connecticut and Wake Forest. Liberty has posted a victory over FBS opponent before, as the Flames shocked Eastern Michigan, 25-24, in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Oct. 14, 1989, for Liberty's only victory over a FBS program.

The Flames are slated to continue their run against FBS foes in years to come, as Liberty has Ball State (2010), N.C. State (2011), Wake Forest (2012), Kent State (2013) and Virginia Tech (2015) currently on future schedules.

Saturday Night Lights
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames are 13-4 in night games. Since 1976, Liberty has compiled a 55-66-3 record in night games.

In Broad Daylight
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames are 15-8 in games played during the day. Since 1976, Liberty is 117-115-1 in day games.

Natural Versus Artificial Surfaces
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames are 23-9 on artificial turf and 6-3 on natural grass. Overall, Liberty is 97-108-4 on natural grass and 82-77 on artificial turf. The Flames play their home games at Williams Stadium, which has an artificial surface, as new state-of-the-art FieldTurf was installed prior to the start of the 2006 season. Liberty has posted a 19-4 record at home since the new type of surface was installed.

Overtime Update
The Flames enter today's game having posted a 3-5 record in overtime games. Liberty's last overtime game came on Sept. 15, 2007, when the Flames dropped a 48-41 decision to William & Mary in double overtime in Williamsburg, Va.

Liberty has only played two of its eight overtime games away from Williams Stadium. Liberty's first extra-period game was a 34-28 road loss to Morgan State on Sept. 21, 1996. Liberty's last victory in an overtime contest came on Nov. 22, 2003, when it closed out the 2003 campaign with a 49-42 win over Hofstra.

Raising Up No. 71
Prior to the start of the Flames' contest against Tusculum on Sept. 1, 2007, Liberty ceremonially honored founder Dr. Jerry Falwell, who had passed away the previous May, by starting a new game day tradition. Members of the University Police force raised a No. 71 flag underneath the Liberty Flames flag above the South end zone, just prior to the team taking the field, bringing the 14,925 fans in attendance to their feet. The new tradition has become a permanent part of the Flames' pregame ceremonies at all home football games. A different person/group receives the honor of raising the flag at each game.

Back in the Big South
Liberty is currently in the midst of its eighth season of competition in Big South Conference action, after opening up conference play Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17. Since beginning league play in 2002, Liberty has posted a 19-10 Big South record, thanks to perfect championship seasons in 2007 (4-0) and 2008 (5-0), while posting back-to-back 3-1 records in 2003 and 2004.

Liberty series records against Big South schools since 2002
Charleston Southern 6-1
Coastal Carolina 4-3
Gardner-Webb 3-4
Stony Brook 1-0
VMI 5-1
Note: Elon was a member of the Big South in 2002, with Elon defeating Liberty.

One for the Record Books
Liberty's 2008 season will long be remembered as one of the greatest in program history, as Liberty reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since the program's inception in 1973. Prior to the 2008 season, Liberty had reached the nine-win mark just twice in nearly four decades of football action (1997/9-2 and 1979/9-1-1).

Rocco Draws National Attention
Head coach Danny Rocco's efforts in 2008 did not go unnoticed on the national scene, as the three-time Big South Coach of the Year recipient saw his name listed among the nation's elite in 2008. Besides picking up his third-straight conference coach of the year honor, Rocco was a Top 5 finalist in the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year contest in the I-AA category. Rocco also became the second coach in Big South history to be named to the Eddie Robinson Award list, as he was one of 20 coaches up for the top FCS coaching honor in the country.

Rocco Dominates the Big South
Since taking over the Flames program, head coach Danny Rocco has posted a 12-2 record against Big South opponents during his four years at Liberty. The skipper dropped his first two Big South games by a combined five points, but has reeled off 12-straight wins to set a new Big South standard. Under Rocco, Liberty has outscored its Big South foes, 514-224, outscoring league competition by more than 20 points per game (36.7 average points scored per game to 16.0 points allowed per game).

Righting the Ship Quickly
The Flames continued a trend in 2009, quickly following losses to West Virginia and James Madison with victories the following week. Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have only lost consecutive games four times. Liberty dropped four-straight games in 2006 and suffered back-to-back setbacks to William & Mary and Elon in 2007. The Flames only lost two games in 2008 and they were not in successive weeks.

Dukes Down Point Production
No. 6/7 James Madison held the Flames to just 10 points in the Dukes' 24-10 victory over Liberty, on Sept. 26, at Williams Stadium. The 10 points scored by the Flames ranks as the second lowest point total in a game under head coach Danny Rocco (fewest was three points in a 10-3 loss to Towson on Sept. 16, 2006). Liberty has failed to reach the 20-point mark in just five of Rocco's 38 games as a head coach on Liberty Mountain.

A Rocco Rebound
Liberty has only dropped 12 games under head coach Danny Rocco, and most of the time the Flames have quickly rebounded the following week with a resounding victory. Since taking over the program, Rocco has followed up losses with a victory eight times, outscoring their opponents 327-63 in those eight games. Three of those seven victories have been shutouts, as the Flames blanked Savannah State (28-0) and Western Carolina (21-0) in 2006 and Charleston Southern (42-0) in 2008.

Twice as Nice
Liberty's victory over VMI on Nov. 8, 2008, coupled with Gardner-Webb's loss to Coastal Carolina the same weekend, gave the Flames the Big South Conference title for the second straight season. Liberty is one of three programs in league history to win consecutive titles. Gardner-Webb hoisted back-to-back trophies in 2002 and 2003, while Coastal Carolina reeled off three straight championship seasons in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Third and Climbing
In just three-plus seasons, head coach Danny Rocco has quickly moved into third place on the Flames' all-time coaching ranks with 28 victories. Ranking ahead of Rocco are Tom Dowling (33-38-2) and Sam Rutigliano, who is the winningest coach in program history (67-53).

Road Warriors
Liberty scored 16-unanswered points in the first half of the Sept. 12th game against Lafayette, en route to a 19-13 road victory over the Leopards. The victory gave the Flames a win in seven of their last nine road games. Liberty's only road losses over the last two seasons have been to Presbyterian (31-28 in 2008) and West Virginia (33-20 in 2009).

Back Among the Best
Liberty's 45-point victory over Coastal Carolina helped propel the Flames back into the Top 25, as the Flames were ranked No. 23 in this week's Sports Network and AnyGivenSaturday.com polls. In the FCS Coaches poll, Liberty is still listed among "Others Receiving Votes," as Liberty tallied 29 votes to "rank" No. 29 in the list, falling just behind No. 25 Northern Arizona's 38 votes.

A Rankings Review
Dating back to the second week of the 2008 season, Liberty has been ranked inside the Top 25 16 out of the last 20 weeks. Following their victory over Glenville State on Sept. 6, 2008, Liberty jumped into the Top 25 at No. 25 and remained there the rest of the season. Liberty has been in and out of the polls in 2009, as the Flames have received a Top 25 billing in four of the eight polls released this season.

Flying High at Year's End
Liberty's 10-2 record in 2008 and second-straight Big South title enabled the Flames to finish the year ranked No. 14 in the Sports Network poll and No. 15 in the FCS Coaches poll. The Sports Network ranking was the highest end-of-the-year national listing in program history. In 2008, Liberty spent a program-record, 12-straight weeks inside the national Top 25 listings.

Offensive Obsession
Over the final nine games of 2008 and 11 out of the last 12 times the Flames took to the field, Liberty racked up 400 or more total offensive yards. Liberty finished the year ranked No. 9 nationally among FCS programs by averaging 446.67 total offensive yards per game. Liberty set a new program standard by tallying 5,360 total offensive yards in 2008, besting the previous school record of 4,856 yards set in 1994. Liberty has surpassed the mark twice this year, racking up 500-plus yards in both outings (514 yards against West Virginia Wesleyan and 575 yards against Coastal Carolina). Liberty currently ranks No. 27 nationally in total offense, averaging 382.33 yards per game.

BEAT COASTAL Big
Liberty's "BEAT COASTAL" campaign seems to bring out the best in the Flames' offense, as Liberty has racked up back-to-back games against the Chanticleers with sizable yardage. The Flames finished last year's 43-38 victory over Coastal Carolina with 531 total offensive yards, while pulling up 575 total offensive yards during this year's 58-13 victory. This year's outing against the Chanticleers was the second most total offensive yards tallied by the Flames under head coach Danny Rocco in a single game, falling just behind Liberty's 591 yards against St. Francis, Pa., in 2007.

A Decisive Number
The Flames' prolific offense in 2009 has Liberty ranked among the nation's leaders, as Liberty currently ranks No. 21 in scoring offense (31.17 points per game). Liberty finished the 2008 season inside the Top 20 in the statistical category, as the Flames ranked No. 17 in scoring offense (33.67 points per game). The 30-point mark seems to be the key number for a Flames victory, as Liberty is 22-2 under head coach Danny Rocco when Liberty scores more than 30 points in a game. The Flames are 6-10 under Rocco when Liberty fails to reach the 30-point threshold.

Finding A Way with Fewer Points
Liberty finished the Lafayette game with 19 points on its side of the scoreboard, tying for the fewest points scored by the Flames in a victory under head coach Danny Rocco. Liberty captured a 19-16 victory over Western Carolina, last year, on Sept. 13 in Cullowhee, N.C.

Don't Forget About the "D"
Despite Liberty's gaudy offensive numbers over the past two-plus seasons, the Flames' defense has played a significant factor in the team's success, bringing a smile to head coach Danny Rocco's face, as he is a 20-plus year defensive coaching veteran. Since 2006, Liberty has held its opponents to an average of 18.5 points per game, bolstered by Rocco's first season when the Flames allowed a program-record low 172 points (15.6 points per game, which ranked No. 12 nationally in scoring defense).

Two Touchdown Favorites
Since taking over the program in 2006, head coach Danny Rocco's Flames have outscored their opponents by an average of 14.5 points per game. Liberty has scored 1,319 points (33.0 average points per game), while allowing 741 points (18.5 average points allowed per game).

Not Finding It Twice
For the fourth time this season, Liberty held an opponent from reaching the 14-point mark in a game during the Flames 58-13 victory over Coastal Carolina last weekend. The dominating defensive performances have allowed the Flames to enter this week ranked No. 18 nationally in scoring defense, as Liberty is allowing an average of 16.67 points per game. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has kept 16 out of 40 opponents from reaching the 14-point mark in a game.

Equally as Impressive
Liberty currently ranks No. 21 nationally in scoring offense (31.17 points per game) and No. 18 in scoring defense (16.67 points allowed per game). The Flames are one of eight teams nationally who rank inside the Top 25 in both statistical categories, joining Butler, Elon, Jacksonville State, New Hampshire, Northern Illinois, South Dakota State and Southern Illinois among the nation's equally balanced programs.

Plentiful Points
During their last outing, Liberty rolled to a 58-13 victory over visiting Coastal Carolina. The 45-point victory is tied for the eighth-largest margin of victory in program history, as the Flames also accomplished the feat in a 45-0 shutout over Gallaudet on Sept. 25, 1976.

Dominating Defense
Last Saturday, the Flames held Coastal Carolina to 175 total offensive yards, marking the second-fewest total offensive yards allowed by Liberty under head coach Danny Rocco (lowest was 57 yards during Rocco's first game in 2006 against St. Paul's). A further look at the box score reveals that 38 of those 175 total offensive yards came on Coastal Carolina's final drive late in the fourth quarter, after Liberty had pulled all of its defensive starters.

Diversifying their Downs
For the third time this year, Liberty finished a game with double-digit first down totals in both rushing and passing plays, as the Flames racked up 14 rushing and 14 passing first downs against Coastal Carolina. Coming into the year, Liberty had only accomplished the feat five times during head coach Danny Rocco's first three years at the helm of the program. Under Rocco, 51.2 percent of Liberty's first downs have come via rushing plays (400), 41.7 have come via the passing game (326) and 7.0 percent by penalties (55).

A Nice New Number
The Flames finished the Coastal Carolina game last weekend with 30 first downs, including 14 first downs by virtue of passing plays. Both figures are new highs under head coach Danny Rocco. Liberty's all-time record for first downs in a game is 34 against Hampton in 1980, while the program mark for first downs by passing is 19, set against Youngstown State in 1990.

Moving Those Chains
One of the busiest crews on the field during a Liberty football game in 2008 was the "chain gang." Liberty finished the campaign ranked No. 3 nationally in third-down conversion rate, moving the chains 50.98 percent of the time on third-down plays. The high conversion rate allowed Liberty to set a new program record with 258 first downs last season.

Under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty has converted on 46.3 percent of third-down plays (229-of-495). This year, Liberty ranks inside the Top 25 again in third-down efficiency, as Liberty currently ranks No. 23, having picked up a new set of downs 43.24 percent of the time when the Flames find themselves in a third-down play (32-of-74).

Fourth-Down Frenzy
Liberty has found much success on fourth-down plays in 2009, converting on 5-of-6 fourth-down plays, which ranks No. 2 nationally in fourth-down conversion rate (83.33 percent). Montana State currently leads the nation with a 90.91 success rate on fourth-down plays (10-of-11). All five successful fourth-down conversions have eventually led to Liberty adding points to the scoreboard, including the West Virginia Wesleyan game, when Mike Brown scored on a fourth-and-goal play from the two-yard line during the third quarter.

Racking it Up for Rocco
Head coach Danny Rocco has brought a high-powered offense to Liberty, as the Flames have scored an average of 33.0 points per game since Rocco took over the program. The figure ranks more than five points per game ahead of the next highest scoring coach in program annals, as Sam Rutigliano's crew was able to score 26.7 points per game during his 11-year tenure.

Coach Avg. Points/Games
Danny Rocco 33.0 1,319/40
Sam Rutigliano 26.7 3,205/120
Rock Royer 24.2 145/6
Tom Dowling 20.9 1,524/73
Morgan Hout 20.8 1,040/50
Ken Karcher 20.6 1,382/67
John Cartwright 20.2 565/28

Halftime Help Uncommon
No. 6/7 James Madison held a 10-7 lead over Liberty, on Sept. 26, heading into the locker room, marking the third time the Flames have trailed at halftime in 2009. Prior to the 2009 season, the Flames had only trailed at halftime six times under head coach Danny Rocco. Under Rocco, Liberty has led in 29 games (74.4 percent), while the score has been tied four times (10.3 percent). Liberty did rally to beat North Carolina Central on Sept. 12, marking the second time in eight games that Liberty overcame a halftime deficit to win under Rocco.

Getting Back to Their Basics
The Flames have rushed for 564 combined yards during their last two games, racking up 264 rushing yards against West Virginia Wesleyan on Oct. 3 and 300 rushing yards against Coastal Carolina, last weekend. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has rushed for 200 or more yards in a game 18 times (out of 40 games).

A Dirty Dozen
Liberty has rushed for 12 of its 19 touchdowns 2009 during the last two games, recording six touchdowns against both West Virginia Wesleyan and Coastal Carolina. Liberty's 19 rushing touchdowns currently ranks third nationally in total rushing touchdowns, as Appalachian State and Colgate are the only other FCS programs in the country with more rushing touchdowns than Liberty (both with 20 rushing touchdowns).

Over the Century Mark
With Liberty's six rushing touchdowns against Coastal Carolina last weekend, the Flames have now rushed for 103 touchdowns since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program. Under Rocco, the Flames are averaging 2.6 rushing touchdowns per game and have recorded 29 multiple rushing touchdown games (out of 40 games).

Third and Final Phase
Since the opening of training camp in August, head coach Danny Rocco has talked about dividing the 2009 season up into three distinct phases. The first phase was the Flames season-opener against West Virginia, followed by the remaining non-conference slate, which was phase two. The third and final phase is Liberty's Big South schedule, which makes up the final six games of the team's regular-season schedule.

Running with the Flames
The Flames have been one of the nation's top FCS programs over the past seven seasons, as Liberty has ranked among the Top 30 rushing teams in the nation six out of the last seven years. During the time span, the Flames have surpassed the 2,000-yard mark six out of seven years and have averaged 2,167 rushing yards per season. In 2008, Liberty rushed for 2,562 yards and ranked No. 13 nationally in rushing yards per game (213.5).

Still Streaking
Danny Broggin became the newest Flame to record a rushing touchdown during Liberty's outing against West Virginia Wesleyan, as the running back was one four players to help Liberty score via the ground game on Oct. 3. Following six more rushing touchdowns against Coastal Carolina last weekend, the Flames have scored a rushing touchdown in 35-straight games and in 38 out of 40 games under head coach Danny Rocco.

Stopping the Run
Liberty was one of the nation's top FCS programs in terms of rushing defense in 2008, finishing the year ranked No. 35 nationally in the statistical category by allowing 125.92 rushing yards per game. The figure was good enough to best a school record, bettering the 2002 squad, who held opponents to 128.5 rushing yards per game.

Three times this year, the Flames have held an opponent from reaching 100 team rushing yards, doing so against North Carolina Central (43 yards), Lafayette (70 yards) and Coastal Carolina (40 yards). Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have held an opponent under the 100-yard rushing mark in 19 out of 40 games.

Clamping Down on the Chanticleers
Coastal Carolina came into last weekend's matchup with Liberty ranked No. 21 nationally in rushing offense, as the Chanticleers were averaging 171.2 rushing yards per game. However, the Flames defended Coastal Carolina's rushing attack very well, holding the Chanticleers to 40 total rushing yards on 26 carries.

Powerful Passing Attack
Three Liberty quarterbacks combined to record 275 passing yards against one of the nation's best passing defenses last weekend. Libery's "B" hurlers (Tommy Beecher, Mike Brown and Tyler Brennan) completed 19-of-24 passing attempts for 275 yards against the Chanticleers, which came into the game ranked No. 3 nationally in passing defense. Prior to the matchup, Coastal Carolina was holding opponents to 126.2 passing yards per game.

Getting the Job Done
Liberty was very efficient on offense against Coastal Carolina last weekend, as the Flames added points to the scoreboard almost each time they touched the football. Outside of the two drives which ended the first and second halves, Liberty scored on nine out of 10 drives on the afternoon.

Big-Time Burst
Aldreakis Allen's 14-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter against Coastal Carolina opened up a 10-point game and started a huge offensive outburst for the Flames. Following the scoring run at 4:55, Liberty reeled off 42-unaswered points over the next 14:44 to secure Liberty's 12th-straight Big South victory.

A Few More Flags
One of the only statistical categories Liberty struggled with last Saturday afternoon against Coastal Carolina was in the penalty column. The Flames finished the game with eight penalties for 45 yards, marking their second-highest penalty total of the year (highest was nine for 80 yards against West Virginia). The four games prior to the Coastal Carolina matchup, Liberty was whistled for a combined 10 infractions resulting in 90 penalty yards. Liberty currently ranks No. 7 nationally in fewest penalties per game (4.50) and No. 4 in fewest average penalty yards per game (35.83).

Taking Better Care of the Ball
During the 2008 season, Liberty finished nine out of 12 games with a positive turnover margin, enabling the Flames to finish the year ranked No. 21 nationally in the statistical category (+0.67). Head coach Danny Rocco has tried to instill the importance of taking care of the ball on his youngsters, as Liberty ranked No. 7 in turnover margin in 2007 (+1.27) and No. 20 in 2006 (+0.55). This year, Liberty currently ranks No. 10 in turnover margin (+1.33).

Winning the Turnover Battle
West Virginia is one of eight teams to finish a game coached by Danny Rocco with fewer turnovers than the Flames. Liberty turned the ball over once on an interception, while West Virginia never coughed the ball up. Since 2006, Liberty has a +37 turnover figure as compared to its opponents, as Liberty has committed 43 turnovers, while forcing 80 giveaways.

Liberty has finished two games in 2009 without committing a turnover, doing so against Lafayette and Coastal Carolina. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has finished 14 games (out of 40 total games) without committing a turnover.

Fewer Fumbles in 2009
Liberty has only lost one fumble during the 2009 season, doing so against North Carolina Central during the second week of the year. Liberty currently ranks No. 2 nationally in fumbles lost, as the Flames are joined by Brown, Cornell, Lafayette and New Hampshire in having committed just one fumble this year. Yale leads the nation without a fumble through five games.

Twice as Nice
Liberty has recorded two of its better defensive performances this year since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006. The Flames held North Carolina Central to 213 total offensive yards on Sept. 12 and Coastal Carolina to 175 total offensive yards, last weekend. Since 2006, Liberty has held 17 opponents under 300 total offensive yards (out of 40 games).

Riding the TOP Yo-Yo
After finishing the West Virginia Wesleyan game with an 11:36 time of possession deficit, Liberty had a 180-degree turnabout against Coastal Carolina. The Flames dominated the game in almost every facet of the contest, including time of possession. Liberty finished the game with a 12:24 time of possession edge (36:12 to 23:48), accounting for the fifth time Liberty has finished a Danny Rocco-coached game with a double-digit time of possession advantage.

Plenty of Picks
Liberty has intercepted a pass in five-straight games, including the Coastal Carolina game, where the Flames intercepted a season-best four passes. The outing marked the third time Liberty has picked off four passes in a game under head coach Danny Rocco. The Flames currently rank No. 11 nationally with 10 total interceptions in 2009.

Closing the Year with a New Standard
Liberty finished the last four games of 2008 without throwing an interception, tying a program record. The Flames were one of the most careful passing teams in the country in 2008, ranking No. 7 nationally in passing efficiency (158.81). Under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty's quarterbacks have thrown just 22 interceptions in 40 games (0.55 per game). Liberty has thrown four interceptions in 2009, which has the Flames ranked No. 22 nationally in fewest interceptions.

Streeter Streamlines the Passers
Under quarterback coach and now offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, Liberty has been one of the most effective passing units in the country of late. Since joining head coach Danny Rocco's staff, Streeter has seen his quarterbacks throw at a 63.0 completion percentage clip, completing 588-of-933 passing attempts for 7,774 yards and 49 touchdowns. During the span, Liberty has averaged 194.3 passing yards per game and has a passing efficiency rating of 147.44 since 2006.

Big Shoes to Fill
The quarterbacking tandem of Tommy Beecher and Mike Brown have been tasked with the lofty goal of trying to replace one of Liberty's best quarterbacks. Brock Smith, who is a student assistant on this year's staff, finished his days in a Liberty uniform by ranking third in passing yards (7,036) and second in passing touchdowns (50) and completion percentage (60.0) in program history. The left-handed hurler also finished his career as the program's all-time leader in passing efficiency (148.1), nearly 16 points higher than Robby Justino's previous mark of 132.6.

A QB's Best Friend
Liberty has allowed five sacks in five games in 2009, as West Virginia got to Liberty's quarterback three times, while James Madison finished with two sacks. The Flames' offensive line kept Liberty's hurlers from being sacked against North Carolina Central, Lafayette, West Virginia Wesleyan and Coastal Carolina, which has the Flames ranked No. 9 nationally in fewest sacks allowed (0.83 per game).

Liberty, who finished the 2008 season ranked No. 3 in sacks allowed, has allowed less than a sack per game (0.82/32 in 39 games) since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006 and has finished 18 games during that span without allowing a sack.

The Sack Attack
Liberty had its second multiple-sack game of 2009 against Coastal Carolina, when the Flames finished the contest with three sacks for a loss of 29 total yards. The contest marked the 15th time Liberty has finished a Danny Rocco-coached football game with three or more sacks. Under Rocco, the Flames have averaged 1.93 sacks per game (77 total) for an average loss of 15.03 yards per game (601 total yards lost on sacks).

Negatives Add Up
Liberty's dominating defensive performance against Coastal Carolina was due in part to a strong tackling effort, including stops behind the line of scrimmage. The Flames finished the Chanticleer game with nine tackles for a loss of 46 yards, setting a new season high for tackles for a loss. The nine TFLs were the second most recorded during the Danny Rocco era, ranking only behind the Flames' 11 tackles for a loss against Tusculum on Sept. 1, 2007.

Leaving Lofty Numbers

Rashad Jennings posted numbers in 2008 which many never be broken at Liberty, as the now NFL running back rushed his way into the record books in 2008. During his senior campaign, the bruising tailback rushed for a program and Big South record 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. In just three seasons with the program, he rushed for 3,633 yards and 42 touchdowns, with his touchdown total setting a new program mark. All in all, he rushed for 100 or more yards in 21 out of 33 games with the Flames.

Total Team Effort

The Flames finished the Coastal Carolina contest by holding the Chanticleers to just 175 total offensive yards, the second-lowest total Liberty has allowed during head coach Danny Rocco's four-year tenure. The defensive lockdown was a team effort, as Liberty's leading tacklers in the game were Trey Jacobs and Doncel Bolt, with both players finishing the game with five stops apiece.

Red Zone Rapport
Liberty currently ranks among the Top 20 teams in the nation in Red Zone Offense, scoring on an average of 88.0 percent of its trips inside the opponent's red zone. Of Liberty's 25 trips inside its opponents' 20-yard line, Liberty has scored 17 touchdowns and kicked five field goals. Since 2006, Liberty has added points to the scoreboard 82.5 percent of the time under head coach Danny Rocco (147-of-178 Red Zone opportunities) when penetrating the opponents' 20-yard line.

Making It Count
Liberty finished the Coastal Carolina game 7-of-7 on red zone scoring chances, marking the fourth game this season Liberty has been perfect in the red zone. Entering the Charleston Southern game, Liberty has scored on 14-straight trips into the red zone, spanning three games. Liberty's last failed trip inside the opponent's 20-yard line came against Lafayette, when Matt Bevins had a 27-yard field goal blocked early in the fourth quarter.

Tough Inside the 20
Liberty currently ranks as one of the nation's best red zone defenses, as the Flames have allowed opponents to score just 70.0 percent of the time (14-of-20). The figure puts the Flames No. 22 nationally in red zone defense. Of those 14 scoring drives, six have failed to find the end zone, as opponents had to settle for a field goal.

The Ideal Job
If you are looking for the "cushy" job on the Flames roster in 2009, you need not look any further than Flames punter Mike Larsson. The sophomore has been called upon to punt 21 times over the course of the first six games, making Liberty the team with the fourth-fewest punts in the nation. Last year, Liberty did even better in the statistical category, as the Flames finished the 2008 season with 33 punts over 12 games, which ranked fourth nationally in terms of fewest punts for the year.

Top Ranked Punt Protection
Liberty's limited number of punts in 2009 has also hampered the opposition's chances to rack up punt return yardage. Only five of Liberty's 21 punts in 2009 have returned for a total of 17 punt return yards, leaving the Flames ranked No. 11 nationally in punt return yardage defense (3.40 yards per punt return). There are only five other FCS programs around the country who have allowed less than five punt returns in 2009.

Joining the Nation's Elite
Last April, running back Rashad Jennings heard something no Liberty Flames had heard in 20 years, as the running back was selected in the NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round. Prior to Jennings' selection, the last Flame to be picked in the NFL draft came in 1990 when Eric Green was taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers (21st overall pick), followed by Donald Smith going to the Minnesota Vikings in the 10th round later in the same draft.

Playing at the Top Level
During the first weekend of September, two of Liberty's former standouts made the cut at the highest level of competition, as Rashad Jennings and Sam Gado received word they were on a 53-man NFL roster. Jennings, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars last April, was one of eight draftees by the Jaguars to make their squad. Gado made the cut on the St. Louis Rams' roster, marking the 2005 Liberty graduate's fifth different stint on a NFL roster. Gado and Jennings faced each other this past Sunday, with Jacksonville squeaking out a 23-20 overtime victory. Both backs finished the game with a single rushing attempt, with Gado's going for three yards and Jennings' accounting for two yards.

Fresh New Faces
Liberty has one of its younger teams since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006. Of the various players listed on the Flames' current depth chart leading into the Charleston Southern game, eight are true freshmen and 37 have underclassman status.

New to the Starting Line-Up
Liberty graduated 24 seniors last year, leaving several holes for head coach Danny Rocco to fill in his 2009 line-up. Of the 22 players who took to the field for the first offensive and defensive snap of the Flames' matchup with West Virginia on Sept. 5, only seven were listed as starters on Liberty's line-up in their opener against North Greenville in 2008 (LG – Bryan Mosier, RT – Josh Weaver, FB – Derek Bishop, DE – Trey Jacobs, SLB – Ian Childress, JLB – Chad Brown, LS – Chris Rocco).

Needing to Replenish the Points
Head coach Danny Rocoo is looking for several younger players to step up in 2009 and try to fill holes left open by 24 graduated seniors from last season. All in all, five of the Flames' top scorers from last year graduated and a total of 66.8 percent of the offensive production from last year's squad will not be on the field this season. Liberty's top two returning scorers are a pair of kickers, Matt Bevins (56 points) and Ben Shipps (33), followed by Mike Brown, who scored 18 points during his first year on the field.

The Killer B's
Mike Brown and Matt Bevins have turned out to be the Flames' top scoring threats in 2009, as the "B" brothers are responsible for 43.8 percent of Liberty's offense (82 of 187 points). Bevins leads the team with 46 points scored, as the sophomore has knocked down 9-of-11 field goal attempts and 19-of-20 PATs. Brown follows directly behind him with 36 points, thanks to six touchdowns during the first six games of the year.

The Ground Game Is Good
The Flames have scored 19 of their 23 touchdowns in 2009 via the ground, including single rushing touchdowns against West Virginia and Lafayette, four touchdowns against North Carolina Central and a season-high six rushing touchdowns against West Virginia Wesleyan and Coastal Carolina.

Special Special Teams
Liberty's special teams certainly played a part in the success of the team against West Virginia on Sept. 5, as the Flames continually pressed toward Mountaineer territory by averaging 23.0 yards per kickoff return. Great special teams play from the Flames is certainly nothing strange on Liberty Mountain, as the Flames finished 2008 ranked No. 12 nationally in punt returns (14.61 average yards per return) and No. 21 in kickoff returns (22.05 average yards per return). Liberty's specialists also tallied three returns for a score last season, retuning one kickoff and two punt returns for touchdowns.

Keeping Them Out of the Backfield
During the 2008 season, the Flames kept their opponents from recording three or more tackles for a loss in eight out of 12 games. Liberty finished the season ranked No. 4 nationally in fewest tackles for a loss allowed, as the Flames allowed just 3.58 TFLs per game en route to a 10-2 season. Liberty is having similar success in 2009, as the Flames have allowed 23 tackles for a loss in six games, which places the Flames No. 9 nationally in the defensive statistical category (4.17 per game).

Linebacker Loom Large
The 3-4 defensive scheme depends heavily upon the play of its linebackers and Liberty is no exception to the rule. Four of the Flames' top five tacklers are from the linebacking corps, led by outside linebacker Wes Cheek, as the former running back has recorded 37 tackles in six games. Cheek is directly followed by Doncel Bolt and Ian Childress, who have 36 and 29 stops to their credit, respectively. Rounding out the Top 5 tacklers on the team are defensive back Chris Rocco (29 tackles) and Chad Brown (27 stops), who is the final starting linebacker on Liberty's two-deep.

Brown Listed Among the Best
With his 157 receiving yards against West Virginia on Sept. 5, Mike Brown became the 44th player in program history to eclipse the 100-receiving yard mark in a game. His 157 receiving yards is the 18th best single-game performance in program history and the seventh best in the past 10 years.

Summers Shines at Lafayette
Chris Summers had a breakout performance against Lafayette, one that left his mark on the record books. The sophomore, who came into the game with five career receptions for 58 yards, caught 14 passes for 138 yards and his first collegiate touchdown versus the Leopards. The 14 receptions is tied for the Big South record for receptions in a game (along with 14 by Gardner-Webb's Duvaughn Flagler against Wofford) while the figure ranks just behind Liberty's all-time record of 15 receptions by Josh Stofle against South Florida in 2001.

Coming Fast and Furious
Coming into the season, head coach Danny Rocco had not seen one of his players finish a game with double-figure receptions. Wynton Jackson was the last Flame to accomplish the feat with 12 catches for 100 yards against Youngstown State on Sept. 17, 2005.

Now, the double-digit games are coming in bunches. Mike Brown accomplished the feat with 11 receptions for 157 yards against West Virginia, while Chris Summers hauled in 14 receptions for 138 yards against Lafayette on Sept. 19.

A Purpose-Driven Player

Mike Brown was the largest ground gainer for either team on Sept. 5, as the sophomore finished the West Virginia game with 271 all-purpose yards (157 receiving, nine rushing and 107 kickoff return yards). The lofty figure is tied for the fifth-highest, single-game, all-purpose yardage total in program history, as Brown now shares the mark with Johnny Shepherd, who first hit the figure against Gardner-Webb on Sept. 30, 1978.

Moving over the Millennium Mark
Mike Brown finished the James Madison game with a team-high 108 all-purpose yards, aided by 56 rushing yards and 52 return yards. The 100-yard game pushed the sophomore over the 1,000-yard career mark, and Brown comes into the Charleston Southern game with 1,277 career all-purpose yards.

Welcome to the Club
B.J. Hayes joined an exclusive club on Sept. 12, when he rushed for 129 yards on 11 carries against North Carolina Central. The stellar effort in Liberty's home opener allowed the sophomore to become the 30th player in program history to rush for 100 or more yards in a single game.

Big Time Gain for B.J.
During the fourth quarter of Liberty's home-opening victory over North Carolina Central, B.J. Hayes broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run to help swing the momentum in the favor of the Flames. The lengthy run was the seventh longest rushing touchdown in program history and is tied for the 11th longest rushing play in Big South history.

Alright Allen
Aldreakis Allen had a breakout game against West Virginia Wesleyan, as the freshman rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns to help his team to a 38-point victory. The rookie became the second Flame this season and the 31st in program history to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark, while averaging 11.2 yards per carry.

Backing It Up
Aldreakis Allen proved that he is not a one-time wonder, when the freshman rushed for a season-best 106 yards and three touchdowns against Coastal Carolina, last weekend. The rookie also added 83 receiving yards and 14 kickoff return yards, to finish the game with an impressive 203 all-purpose yards. For his efforts, Allen was tabbed the Big South's Freshman of the Week, his second-such honor of the 2009 season.

Broggin's Big Run
Danny Broggin was one of four players to record a rushing touchdown for the Flames on Oct. 3, helping Liberty to a 45-7 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan. The 13-yard scoring run was the third longest rushing play of his career and marked the junior's first career trip across the goal line. The Brookneal, Va., native finished the game with four rushing attempts for 38 yards, nearly giving Liberty four runners with a 10.0-plus yard average run in the contest.

Danny Does It Again
Following a solid game against West Virginia Wesleyan, Danny Broggin showed his explosiveness once against Coastal Carolina. The junior finished off one of three one-play scoring drives for Liberty, as the running back broke free for an 82-yard rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The scoring burst was the second-longest touchdown run in program history, falling only behind Chip Smith's 86-yarder against Ferrum in 1976.

Holloway Has His Way
SirChauncey Holloway became the third player this season to finish a game with multiple rushing touchdowns. The rookie joined Mike Brown and Aldreakis Allen on the list, as he scored twice on runs of one and 14 yards. He finished the game with 10 carries for 53 yards, after tallying just seven rushing attempts for 30 yards during the first five games of the year.

Mike Makes It Happen
Mike Brown started his second game of the year at one of Liberty's wide receiver positions against North Carolina Central, on Sept. 12. However, the sophomore was called upon to take over for quarterback Tommy Beecher in the second quarter and finished the game by completing 10-of-12 passing attempts for 71 yards. Prior to the game, Brown had completed just 2-of-4 career passing attempts for 25 yards.

No Sophomore Slump Here
Proving his outing against North Carolina Central was no fluke, Mike Brown had a banner day in his first start under center for the Flames. Against Lafayette, the sophomore completed 29-of-36 pass attempts for 242 yards and his second career touchdown pass.

The 29 completions are tied for the sixth most in the program's single-game history and rank No. 10 on the Big South's single-game list. Brown's 80.6 completion percentage is now the No. 6 mark in Big South history.

Nearly Perfect Passing
In his first career start at quarterback, Mike Brown nearly went to the locker room with a perfect completion percentage. The sophomore completed his first 10 passing attempts for the game and did not miss until an incorrectly run route by Ervin Garner forced the Flames to punt the ball away.