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Game Day Central: Stony Brook

November 18, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Game Day Central: Stony Brook
Stony Brook Game Day Central

No. 16/17 Liberty at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, N.Y.
Nov. 21, 2009
LaValle Stadium (8,136)

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (EST)

Television Coverage
Live TV Coverage:

Internet Video Coverage
Video Streaming:
Big South Network

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.

Saturday's Game
Saturday's game will wrap up the regular-season schedule for both squads in a game that will decide this year's Big South title. Liberty enters the game unbeaten in league action in 2009, but Stony Brook could gain a share of the title by defeating the Flames and finishing the year with identical Big South records.

Series with the Seawolves
Saturday's meeting will be the second for both teams in the series, as the Flames started to square off with Stony Brook last year after the Seawolves joined the Big South Conference as an associate member for football. Liberty dominated the first meeting, 33-0, recording the first of back-to-back Big South shutout victories on Oct. 11.

A Look at Last Time
The Flames exactly doubled up the Seawolves during the first-ever meeting in the series, outgaining visiting Stony Brook, 466 total offensive yards to 233. Liberty scored three of its four touchdowns on the day on the ground, rushing for 299 yards en route to a 33-0 win at Williams Stadium on Oct. 11.

Long Island Woes
This weekend will be Liberty's first-ever trip to Stony Brook, N.Y., to face Big South foe Stony Brook, but it will not be the program's first trip to Long Island. Liberty has made the trek North to Long Island four times when the team was regularly playing against Hofstra. Liberty lost all four games against the Pride, including its last visit to Long Island, 32-2, during the team's 2002 season finale on Nov. 23.

Finishing up with the Flames
In the 37-year history of the Flames football program, Liberty has posted a 21-15 record during its final game of the season. Liberty is a perfect 3-0 under head coach Danny Rocco during the last game of the year, including back-to-back games without allowing a touchdown (31-0 against Gardner-Webb in 2007 and 26-3 to No. 12 Elon in 2008).

Big South Finales
Since starting Big South play in 2002, Liberty has posted a 5-2 record during their last league game of the season. Liberty has won all three of its conference finales under head coach Danny Rocco, including back-to-back wins over Gardner-Webb (31-0 in 2007 and 30-10 in 2008). During his first season with the program, Rocco capped off a winning season with a 38-32 road victory over VMI on Nov. 18, 2006.

Finishing Strong
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames seem to get better as the year goes on, finishing each campaign strong. Since 2006, Liberty has posted a 12-1 record during the month of November and a 16-3 mark over the season's last five games, including its past four wins against Charleston Southern, Presbyterian, VMI and Gardner-Webb.

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, 2009. 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.

Defending Their Own House
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have won 21 out of 25 home games, meaning Liberty has won 84.0 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 5-1 on Liberty Mountain in 2009.

Conference Consistency
Liberty enters Saturday's Big South finale match-up with Stony Brook, having won its last 16 Big South Conference games. The 16-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 16-game winning streak, the Flames have dominated their opponents, outscoring their foes by an average of more than 26 points per game (42.9 average points scored/687 to 16.9 average points allowed/271). Liberty has scored 30 or more points during 15 of those victories, including eight games with 40 or more points. Defensively, the Flames have held their opponent eight times to two touchdowns or less during the run.

Third and Holding
With their 51-28 victory over Gardner-Webb last weekend, the Flames pushed their Big South Conference winning streak to 16-straight games. The winning run is the third-longest active FCS conference winning streak in the country, behind Appalachian State (19 games/Southern) and South Carolina State (18 games/MEAC).

Best Since 2006
Liberty might have the third-longest active FCS conference winning streak in the country, but in terms of length of time, the Flames' 16-game Big South winning streak is the longest. Liberty's winning streak began with a 34-20 win over Charleston Southern on Nov. 11, 2006. Appalachian State and South Carolina State both lost games in 2007 before starting their current streaks, meaning Liberty is the only FCS team in the nation to have not lost a conference game since 2006.

Senior Day Sendoff
The Flames continued a recent trend on Nov. 7, when Liberty gave its seniors one last victory at home with a 54-14 win over VMI. The Flames have now won four-straight Senior Day contests dating back to a 34-20 victory over No. 24 Charleston Southern in 2006. Since the start of the program in 1973, Liberty has posted a 24-13 record during its final home game of the year, giving their seniors a victory on Senior Day 64.9 percent of the time.

The Last to Do So
Following back-to-back unbeaten seasons in Big South play, the Flames enter Saturday's match-up with Stony Brook having reeled off 16-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 Saturday's match-up with Stony Brook having posted a 16-2 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 two weeks of conference play will determine if Liberty can keep the streak alive, following its 58-13 victory over Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17.

Winning in Style
Six of Liberty's eight wins this year have been by sizable margins, as Liberty defeated Garner-Webb by 23 points (51-28), North Carolina Central by 25 points (35-10), Presbyterian by 36 points (55-19), West Virginia Wesleyan by 38 points (45-7), Coastal Carolina by 45 points (58-13) and VMI by 40 points (54-14). The victories give Liberty 15 wins under head coach Danny Rocco, where the Flames have won by 25 or more points, meaning 46.9 percent of Rocco's victories have been by a quarter-century margin or larger (15 out of 32).

Fifty is Nifty
Fans who attended Liberty's last three home games of the year saw an offensive explosion, as Liberty has eclipsed the 50-point mark all three times and averaged 55.7 points per game. Liberty began the run with a 58-13 win over Coastal Carolina, followed by a 55-19 victory over Presbyterian and a 54-14 win over VMI. Last weekend, the Flames continued the trend, rolling up 51 points on the road at Gardner-Webb to give the Flames seven games under head coach Danny Rocco where the Flames have scored 50 or more points. 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, on Oct. 17, 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.

Road Warriors
The Flames scored 24-straight points in the second half against Gardner-Webb, rolling to a 51-28 road victory over Gardner-Webb. The win gave the Flames a victory in its last three-straight road games and in nine of their last 11 games away from Williams Stadium. The Flames have also now won sevent-straight Big South road games and are 7-1 in conference road games under head coach Danny Rocco.

Better Against the Bulldogs
Liberty looked like it was going to continue a recent trend this past weekend, as the Flames found themselves in another close road game against Gardner-Webb. However, the Flames reeled off 24-straight points to secure the 51-28 win over the Bulldogs. Prior to the Gardner-Webb game, Liberty won both of its previous road games by a much closer margin with a six-point win over Lafayette, 19-13, and a seven-point victory over Charleston Southern, 20-13. During the Charleston Southern game, Liberty was limited to 165 total offensive yards, the team's second-lowest offensive output under head coach Danny Rocco.

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.

Getting Some Home Cooking
Liberty's offense certainly liked playing in front of its own fans in 2009, as the Flames averaged an additional 124.5 yards of total offense at home. During Liberty's six home games, the Flames averaged 399.5 total offensive yards per game, as compared to a 333.8 average on the road. Overall, the Flames rank No. 30 nationally, as the squad is averaging 373.20 total offensive yards 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 44 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.

Possible First
Should the Flames win Saturday against Stony Brook, Liberty would become the first team in Big South Conference history to capture the outright conference title three-straight years. Coastal Carolina claimed the outright championship in 2004 and 2006, while sharing the conference crown with Charleston Southern in 2005.

Sweet 16
For the third-straight week, the Flames remained ranked No. 16 in the Sports Network poll, while Liberty dropped a spot to No. 17 in the latest FCS Coaches Poll after flip-flopping with Stephen F. Austin. Liberty has now been ranked inside the Top 25 the past five-straight weeks and in eight out of 12 listings throughout the 2009 season.

A Rankings Review
Dating back to the second week of the 2008 season, Liberty has been ranked inside the Top 25 21 out of the last 27 weekly polls (including last year's final ranking and this year's preseason listing). 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 seven of the 11 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, 13-straight weeks inside the national Top 25 listings.

Sensational Six
With their 51-28 victory over Gardner-Webb last weekend, the Flames have now reeled off six-straight victories. The run is the fifth-longest active winning streak in the country and ranks as the second-longest winning streak under head coach Danny Rocco (longest was 11-straight that spanned the 2007 and 2008 seasons).

Eight Is Great
For the third-straight season, the Flames have reached the eight-win plateau, as Liberty enters Saturday's game with Stony Brook with an 8-2 overall record. The Flames finished the 2007 season at 8-3 and last year with a 10-2 mark. Liberty is one of 21 FCS programs in the nation to have won eight games in 2009 and the recent run marks the first time in program history Liberty has won eight games in three-consecutive seasons.

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 three this year, racking up 500-plus yards in both outings (514 yards against West Virginia Wesleyan, 575 yards against Coastal Carolina and 510 yards against Gardner-Webb). Liberty currently ranks No. 30 nationally in total offense, averaging 373.20 yards per game.

A Decisive Number
The Flames' prolific offense in 2009 has Liberty ranked among the nation's leaders, as Liberty currently ranks No. 4 in scoring offense (36.70 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 25-2 under head coach Danny Rocco when Liberty scores more than 30 points in a game. The Flames are 7-10 under Rocco when Liberty fails to reach the 30-point threshold.

Don't Forget About the "D"
Despite Liberty's gaudy offensive numbers over the past three 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 15.5 points per game. Liberty has scored 1,499 points (34.1 average points per game), while allowing 815 points (18.5 average points allowed per game).

Two or Less is Nice
For the sixth time this year, Liberty kept an opponent from scoring more than two touchdowns in a games, as Liberty only allowed VMI to find the end zone twice on Nov. 7. The dominating defensive performances have allowed the Flames to enter this week ranked No. 17 nationally in scoring defense, as Liberty is allowing an average of 17.40 points per game. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has kept 23 out of 44 opponents from scoring more than 14 points per game (52.3 percent).

Equally as Impressive
Liberty currently ranks No. 4 nationally in scoring offense (35.11 points per game) and No. 17 in scoring defense (17.40 points allowed per game). The Flames are one of nine teams nationally who rank inside the Top 20 in both statistical categories, joining Elon, Jacksonville State, Montana, Northern Iowa, Richmond, South Carolina State, Southern Illinois and Villanova among the nation's equally balanced programs.

Plentiful Points
During its outing on Oct. 17, Liberty rolled to a 58-13 victory over visiting Coastal Carolina. The 45-point victory was 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
On Oct. 17, 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.

Second-Half Serge
Liberty scored 24-unanswered points during the second half of its game against Gardner-Webb, opening up a contest that the Bulldogs led and turning it into another sizeable victory for the Flames. The second-half surge continues a trend for Liberty in 2009, as the Flames have outscored their opponent 191 to 75 during the final two quarters. A further look at this statistic shows Liberty has outscored its foes 120 to 55 during the last 15 minutes of the game.

Diversifying their Downs
For the fourth time this year, Liberty finished a game with double-digit first down totals in both rushing and passing plays, as the Flames racked up 10 rushing and 12 passing first downs against Gardner-Webb, last weekend. 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, 50.5 percent of Liberty's first downs have come via rushing plays (430), 42.3 have come via the passing game (360) and 7.2 percent by penalties (61).

A Different Type of Down
The Flames benefitted from some mistakes by Gardner-Webb, last Saturday, resulting in free first downs. The Bulldogs were penalized seven times for 75 yards, with five of those penalties giving Liberty a new set of downs. The five first downs by penalty was the highest single-game total during head coach Danny Rocco's tenure at Liberty and the most for the Flames since Liberty picked up six first downs by penalty against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 2, 2002. The Flames came into the afternoon conference battle with 11 first downs by penalty during the first nine games of the season.

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 45.9 percent of third-down plays (251-of-547). This year, Liberty ranks inside the Top 30 again in third-down efficiency, as Liberty currently ranks No. 21, having picked up a new set of downs 42.86 percent of the time when the Flames find themselves in a third-down play (54-of-126).

Fourth-Down Frenzy
Liberty has found much success on fourth-down plays in 2009, converting on 6-of-8 fourth-down plays, which ranks No. 3 nationally in fourth-down conversion rate (75.00 percent). All six successful fourth-down conversions have eventually led to Liberty adding points to the scoreboard, including a pair of short-yardage runs by Mike Brown for touchdowns against West Virginia Wesleyan (two yards) and Gardner-Webb (one yard).

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 34.1 points per game since Rocco took over the program. The figure ranks 7.4 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.

Halftime Help Uncommon
For the fourth-time this year, Liberty entered the locker room at halftime trailing an opponent, as Gardner-Webb held a slight 28-27 lead at the intermission on Saturday. Prior to the 2009 season, the Flames had only trailed at halftime nine times under head coach Danny Rocco. Under Rocco, Liberty has led in 31 games (70.5 percent), while the score has been tied four times. Liberty has rallied twice for a victory when trailing at halftime under Rocco, doing so both times this season (against North Carolina Central and Gardner-Webb).

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.

Getting Back to Their Basics
During its most recent four home games, Liberty found success on the ground. The Flames rushed for 966 combined yards during the quartet of games, racking up 264 rushing yards against West Virginia Wesleyan on Oct. 3, 300 rushing yards against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17, 232 yards against Presbyterian and 170 yards against VMI. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has rushed for 200 or more yards in a game 19 times (out of 44 games).

Rushing Toward the Top
Liberty scored five rushing touchdowns against Presbyterian on Oct. 31, marking the fourth time in five home games the Flames have scored four or more rushing touchdowns. On the year, Liberty has rushed for 29 touchdowns, which ranks third nationally in total team rushing touchdowns. Two other FCS programs have rushed for more touchdowns than the Flames in 2009, as Appalachian State leads the nation with 37 rushing touchdowns and McNeese State ranks second with 30 rushing scores.

Home Turf Advantage
The Flames rushed for five touchdowns on Oct. 31 against Presbyterian, marking the fourth time in five home games the Flames had tallied four or more rushing touchdowns. In six home games this year, the Flames managed to run for 24 of their 29 team rushing touchdowns (82.8 percent). Liberty scored single rushing touchdowns on the road against West Virginia, Lafayette and Charleston Southern, while scoring twice on the ground at Gardner-Webb.

Over the Century Mark
With Liberty's six rushing touchdowns against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17, Liberty moved over the century mark for rushing touchdowns under head coach Danny Rocco. During Rocco's 44 games as head coach on Liberty Mountain, the Flames have rushed for 113 touchdowns (2.57 rushing touchdowns per game), including 32 games with multiple rushing touchdowns.

Running over the Big South
With two rushing touchdowns against Gardner-Webb last weekend, the Flames have now rushed for 52 touchdowns in Big South games coached by head coach Danny Rocco. On the flipside of the field, the Flames have only allowed 21 rushing touchdowns during conference contests, including just three this season (VMI recorded the first and Gardner-Webb added two rushing touchdowns, last weekend).

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).

What They Need
Liberty comes into this weekend's matchup with Stony Brook needing 271 team rushing yards to surpass the 2,000-yard mark for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Liberty has surpassed this total eight times in a game under head coach Danny Rocco, including once this year (300 rushing yards against Coastal Carolina). Stony Brook, who ranks No. 57 in the country by allowing 137.50 rushing yards per game, has allowed two opponents to surpass the 200-yard mark in 2009, including VMI, who rushed for a Stony Brook opponent-best 271 yards on Oct. 17.

Still Streaking
Mike Brown's two-yard touchdown run to cap off Liberty's opening drive of the game against Gardner-Webb helped the Flames tie the football game with the Bulldogs less than five minutes in the contest. The scoring run also kept a streak alive, as Liberty has rushed for a touchdown in 39-straight games and in 42 out of 44 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.

Four 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), Coastal Carolina (40 yards) and Presbyterian (58 yards). Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have held an opponent under the 100-yard rushing mark in 20 out of 44 games.

Stopping them where it Counts
Liberty is allowing a few extra rushing yards in 2009, as the Flames currently rank No. 62 nationally in rushing defense (141.80 average rushing yards allowed per game). However, the Flames have only allowed 10 rushing touchdowns through 10 games, which has the Flames tied for No. 30 nationally in fewest total rushing touchdowns allowed.

Can't Contain the Keydets
Much like the rest of their opponents, the Flames were unable to keep the Keydets from running all over the field on Nov. 7. VMI, who currently ranks No. 2 nationally in rushing offense (262.20 average rushing yards per game), managed to rush for 250 yards against Liberty. Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have only allowed an opponent to rush for 200 or more yards eight times, with half of the those occurrences taking place in four meetings with VMI.

Passing Attack Packs a Punch
Tommy Beecher had a career day against Gardner-Webb, as the senior helped the Flames throw for 337 yards against Gardner-Webb, last weekend. The passing figure was the second-highest during head coach Danny Rocco's tenure, ranking just behind 344 passing yards against Lafayette in 2008.

Nearly Leading the Nation
Liberty's quarterbacks combined to complete 23-of-35 passing attempts against Gardner-Webb, last weekend, dropping the Flames team completion percentage to 68.9 percent. Heading into the VMI game two weeks ago, Liberty was the lone team in the nation to have a team completion mark above 70 percent (70.9). Following the Gardner-Webb game, Liberty now ranks second in the country in team completion percentage, as Appalachian State has climbed above the mark and is passing at a 70.03 percentage in 2009.

Getting the Job Done
During its last four games, the Flames have taken full advantage of their possession, adding points to the scoreboard almost every time they have the ball. Outside of the drives which ended the first or second halves, Liberty has scored 37 times out of 40 drives against Coastal Carolina (9-of-10), Presbyterian (9-of-13), VMI (10-of-15) and Gardner-Webb (9-of-12).

Finding a Different Way
Liberty might have reached the 50-point mark for the third-straight game in its 54-14 win over VMI, on Nov. 7, but the Flames did so in somewhat of a different manor. Liberty only scored three offensive touchdowns during the 40-point victory, as the remaining 33 points was scored by the defense and special teams units.

Big-Time Bursts
During two of their last three home games, the Flames managed to put points up on the scoreboard in a hurry. Against Coastal Carolina, Liberty scored 42-unanswered points over a 15-minute period, opening up a 10-point game at the time on Oct. 17. Last weekend, Liberty lead 27-14 against VMI until the Flames scored 27-straight points over an 11-minute period in the fourth quarter to secure their 54-14 win over the Kedyets.

Fewer Flags of Late
The only statistical category the Flames seem to be struggling in during their two games leading up to the VMI matchup was in the penalty column. Liberty was whistled for eight penalties for 45 yards against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17 and 11 infractions for 105 yards against Presbyterian on Oct. 31. The penalty totals marked the fifth time Liberty has finished a game with 10 or more penalties under head coach Danny Rocco and the fourth time with more than a 100 penalty yards. Liberty managed to drop the total against VMI (five/35 yards) and Garnder-Webb (four/31 yards). The Flames enter Saturday's game with Stony Brook ranked No. 19 nationally in fewest penalties per game (5.10) and No. 14 in fewest penalty yards per game (41.60).

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).

Tops in Turnover Margin
Over the last two games, the Flames have gone without committing a turnover, while their opponents have freely giving the ball away 10 times (eight by VMI and two by Gardner-Webb). Following the two-game spurt, Liberty now leads the nation in turnover margin (2.20), a mark that is well ahead of No. 2 Southern with a 1.89 turnover margin. The Flames have seen their opponents give the ball away 29 times this year, while Liberty has committed just seven giveaways.

Making the Most of the Freebies
Two weeks ago, the Flames saw VMI turn the ball over eight times, as the Keydets fumbled the ball away six times and Liberty intercepted two passes. The Flames took advantage of the extra opportunities with the football, as 30 of the Flames 54 points scored came following VMI turnovers.

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 +51 turnover figure as compared to its opponents, as Liberty has committed 45 turnovers, while forcing 96 giveaways.

Liberty has finished four games in 2009 without committing a turnover, doing so against Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, VMI and Gardner-Webb. Since Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has finished 16 games (out of 44 total games) without committing a turnover.

Fewer Fumbles in 2009
For the seventh time this year, Liberty finished a game without fumbling the ball away, helping the Flames to a 51-28 victory over Gardner-Webb, last weekend. With just three total fumbles lost in 2009, Liberty currently ranks No. 2 nationally in fewest fumbles lost. Liberty, along with Cornell, Lafayette, Samford and Savannah State, all trail No. 1 Youngstown State, who has only fumbled the ball away twice in 2009.

Riding the TOP Yo-Yo
Liberty has been all over the stats sheet this year in terms of time of possession. Liberty has finished a game with as much as a 12:44 time of possession edge (Coastal Carolina), while losing the TOP battle by 11:36 (West Virginia Wesleyan). Liberty has shown better control of the clock of late, as the Flames have won the TOP battle the last three games and six times total in 2009, including an 8:46 edge against Gardner-Webb this past week.

Plenty of Picks
Liberty had an eight-game string snapped against Gardner-Webb, last weekend, as for the first time since the season opener against West Virginia. Liberty has picked off two or more passes in six out of 10 games and currently ranks No. 7 nationally with 17 total interceptions in 2009.

Pick Pays Off
Ian Childress recorded one of two interceptions for the Flames on Nov. 7 and the senior returned the errant pass 34 yards for a score to give the Flames a 17-7 lead over VMI early in the second quarter. The interception return for a score was the first for a Flames defender since Ryan Greiser returned an interception 35 yards against Toledo on Oct. 6, 2007.

No Giveaways through Air
For the fifth-straight game and seventh time this season, the Flames finished a game without committing an interception in their 51-28 victory over Gardner-Webb, last weekend. Through the first 10 games of the year, Liberty's quarterbacks have thrown just four interceptions, which has the Flames ranked No. 2 nationally in fewest interceptions thrown. Monmouth leads the nation, having thrown only two picks in 2009.

Setting a New Standard
Over the past five games, Liberty has avoided throwing an interception to set a new school record for consecutive games without a picked off pass. Under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty's quarterbacks have thrown just 22 interceptions in 44 games (0.50 per game).

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 63.6 completion percentage clip, completing 665-of-1,046 passing attempts for 8,582 yards and 56 touchdowns. During the span, Liberty has averaged 195.1 passing yards per game and has a passing efficiency rating of 145.95 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 13 sacks in nine games in 2009. West Virginia got to Liberty's quarterback three times, while James Madison, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb finished with two sacks each. Coastal Carolina and VMI also added just one sack. The Flames' offensive line kept Liberty's hurlers from being sacked against North Carolina Central, Lafayette and West Virginia Wesleyan, which has the Flames ranked No. 22 nationally in fewest sacks allowed (1.30 per game).
Liberty, who finished the 2008 season ranked No. 3 in sacks allowed, has allowed less than a sack per game (0.89/39 in 44 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 third multiple-sack game of 2009 against Gardner-Webb, when the Flames finished the contest with two sacks for a loss of five total yards last weekend. 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 1.80 sacks per game (79 total) for an average loss of 13.77 yards per game (606 total yards lost on sacks). Liberty's pair of quarterback sacks against Gardner-Webb snapped a string where the Flames finished a game without a quarterback sack.

Protecting the Pass
For the sixth time this year, Liberty held an opponent's passing attack under 200 yards, when Liberty kept VMI to just 85 passing yards on Nov. 7. Entering Saturday's game against Stony Brook, the Flames currently rank No. 31 nationally in passing defense, as the Flames are holding their opposing quarterbacks to 173.10 passing yards per game.

Not Scoring Through the Air
If opposing offensive coordinators are looking for a way to score against Liberty's defense, the passing attack is not their best option. Liberty currently ranks No. 9 nationally in fewest passing touchdowns allowed in 2009, as the Flames defense has allowed just nine passing touchdowns through their first 10 games.

Total Team Effort
During its last three home games, Liberty's defense has been stout, keeping both Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian and VMI from reaching the 20-point mark. The dominating defensive performances have been a team effort, as no one single player racked up great defensive numbers. Against Coastal Carolina, the leading tacklers on the team were Trey Jacobs and Doncel Bolt, with both players finishing the game with five stops apiece. On Oct. 31, Bolt was above atop the defensive stat sheet with six stops against the Blue Hose, while Chad Brown led the team last weekend with nine stops.

Red Zone Rapport
Liberty currently ranks among the Top 10 teams in the nation in red zone offense, scoring on an average of 93.5 percent of its trips inside the opponent's red zone. Of Liberty's 46 trips inside its opponents' 20-yard line, Liberty has scored 32 touchdowns and kicked 11 field goals, which leave Liberty ranked No. 3 nationally in red zone scoring (43-of-46). Since 2006, Liberty has added points to the scoreboard 84.4 percent of the time under head coach Danny Rocco (168-of-199 Red Zone opportunities) when penetrating the opponents' 20-yard line.

Making It Count
Liberty finished the Gardner-Webb game 5-of-5 on red zone scoring chances, marking the eighth game this season Liberty has been perfect in the red zone. Entering Saturday's Stony Brook contest, Liberty has scored on 35-straight trips into the red zone, spanning seven games. Liberty's recent successes inside the opponent's 20-yard line have helped the Flames increase their red zone efficiency to 93.5 percent, which ranks No. 5 nationally in the statistical category (43-of-46).

Two of the Nation's Best
If the ball managed to cross the 20-yard line this weekend in Stony Brook, N.Y., there is a pretty good chance someone is going to score. Stony Brook and Liberty are two of the nation's best red zone offenses, as the Bulldogs rank No. 9 in the statistical category (87.5 percent) and the Flames rank No. 3 (93.5 percent). Liberty is more likely to score a touchdown, as 74.4 percent of the Flames red zone scoring has been a touchdown (32 touchdowns), while Stony Brook is adding seven points 53.6 percent of their red zone scoring chances (15 touchdowns).

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 63.6 percent of the time (21-of-33). The figure puts the Flames No. 7 nationally in red zone defense. Of those 21 scoring drives that have penetrated the 20-yard line, nine have failed to find the end zone, as opponents had to settle for a field goal.

Bend but Don't Break
Charleston Southern tied an opponent season high with five trips inside the Flames' red zone on Oct. 24. However, Liberty's defense held strong, allowing just one touchdown and two field goals to help secure the road victory for the Flames. The following weekend, the Flames allowed a passing touchdown and a field goal when Presbyterian drove inside the 20-yard line. During the VMI game, the Keydets drove into the red zone four times and came away with just one touchdown. On the season, the Flames currently rank No. 16 in fewest red zone touchdowns allowed in the country (12).

First Down Anomaly
Presbyterian did something only one other team has accomplished in 2009, as the Blue Hose tied West Virginia for the most first downs recorded in a game against the Flames (both finished with 22). The figure was certainly unique, as Liberty ranks among the nation's leaders in first down defense (tied for No. 29 by allowing an average of 16.30 first downs per game).

Racking up Recoveries
Over the last three weeks, Liberty has tallied nine of its 12 season fumble recoveries, including six against VMI on Nov. 7. Liberty added two more fumble recoveries against Gardner-Webb, last weekend, as the Flames now rank No. 14 nationally in total fumble recoveries (12).

Recovery Rewards
Not only are the Flames regaining the ball with their recent climb in fumble recoveries, but Liberty is making it count. Two weeks ago, Kevin Fogg jumped on a muffed punt in the end zone against VMI, giving the rookie his first career score. Last weekend, Demetrius Ward picked up a fumble forced by KaJuan Lee and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown against Gardner-Webb.

Nothing New for Ward
Demetrius Ward had his first notable collegiate play last weekend against Gardner-Webb, as the Hampton, Va., native picked up a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a score. Finding the end zone is nothing new for Ward, as the inside linebacker scored four defensive touchdowns during his final year at Phoebus High School. Phoebus finished the year with nine shutouts and allowed only 53 total points during Ward's final season.

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 36 times over the course of the first 10 games, making Liberty the team with the 11th-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.

Bucs Make the Flames Boot the Ball
Liberty's Mike Larsson was called upon more times during the Charleston Southern game than any other time during his two years with the program. The sophomore finished the game with six punts for 207 yards, marking the most team punts since Liberty was forced to punt eight times against Elon on Sept. 22, 2007 (spanning 25 games).

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 10 of Liberty's 36 punts in 2009 have been returned for a total of 24 punt return yards, leaving the Flames ranked No. 5 nationally in punt return yardage defense (2.60 yards per punt return). There are only nine other FCS programs around the country who have allowed less than six punt returns in 2009.

Big Day for Breakups
Liberty's defenders were all over the field, last Saturday, finishing the Gardner-Webb game with a season-best seven pass breakups. The figure matched Liberty's most pass breakups in a game under head coach Danny Rocco, as the Flames also hit the mark against Glenville State (2006), Presbyterian (2007), Stony Brook (2008) and Elon (2008).

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 Gardner-Webb 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).

The Ground Game Is Good
The Flames have scored 29 of their 40 touchdowns in 2009 via the ground, including single rushing touchdowns against West Virginia, Lafayette and Charleston Southern, two rushing touchdowns against VMI and Gardner-Webb, four touchdowns against North Carolina Central, five rushing touchdowns against Presbyterian 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.

Hewlett Has His Way
Aaron Hewlett gave Liberty its first special teams touchdown of the year, when the redshirt senior returned a kickoff 80 yards for a score the first time the Flames touched the football against VMI on Nov. 7. The last time Liberty had returned a kickoff was against North Greenville in the Flames 2008 opener when Jonathan Crawford returned a kickoff 76 yards. Last weekend, Hewlett continued to showcase his return ability, tallying four kickoff returns for 114 total yards.

Joining the Group
Aaron Hewlett's 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against VMI on Nov. 7 helped Liberty join an elite national group. Only one of 29 FCS programs have returned a kickoff in 2009 and no teams have returned multiple kickoffs for a score.

Dirty Dozen
The Flames finished the VMI game with a season-high 167 total special teams return yards, besting the Flames 161 yards against West Virginia in the season opener. The figure marked the 12th time the Flames have finished a game with more than 150 total special teams return yards during head coach Danny Rocco's four-year tenure with the program. Following the game, Liberty currently ranks No. 10 nationally in average yards per kickoff return (23.97).

Fogg Finds the Football
Kevin Fogg did something only one other Flame had done during head coach Danny Rocco's time with the program. The true freshman was at the right place at the right time when VMI muffed a punt return and the ball bound into the end zone. Fogg pounced on the ball and was credited with a fumble return for a touchdown, which was the team's first since Alonzia Phillips returned a fumble 43 yards for a score against VMI on Nov. 18, 2006.

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 46 tackles for a loss in 10 games, which places the Flames No. 15 nationally in the statistical category (4.60 per game).

Big South's Best
For the fifth-straight week, Liberty had a player recognized by the Big South Conference, as Mike Brown took home Big South Offensive Player of the Week honors for the third time this year on Monday. Liberty has now received 13 weekly honors throughout the 2009 season, which is more than any other program in the league. Gardner-Webb ranks second behind the Flames with nine weekly award winners during this year's campaign.

Larsson's Large Numbers
Mike Larsson finished the Charleston Southern game with career-high numbers in total punts (6) and total punt yardage (207), helping him earn Big South Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this year. One of his six punts sailed 71 yards, marking the third longest punt in program history (bettering Ben Rogers' 68-yard punt against Samford in 1999) and the second longest in Big South history (matching Gardner-Webb's Graham Whitlock, who booted a 71-yard against Liberty on Oct. 5, 2002, in the first-ever Big South game).

Pin-Point Accuracy
Mike Larsson has been called upon a limited number of times in 2009, but when the punter does come onto the field, he has been key to Liberty's success. The sophomore has placed 16 of his 35 punts in 2009 inside the opponent's 20-yard line (45.7 percent), while booting three punts for more than 50 yards. For his career, Larsson has placed 22 out of 52 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line (42.3 percent).

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 senior captain Wes Cheek, as the former running back has tallied 66 stops through 10 games, Following Cheek are Doncel Bolt, with 59 tackles and defensive back Chris Rocco with 48 tackles. Linebackers Ian Childress and Chad Brown fall behind Rocco with 44 and 42 stops, respectively, rounding out Liberty's top five tacklers.

Brown Joins the Elite
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 19th best single-game performance in program history and the eighth best in the past 10 years.

Brown is the Best
Mike Brown one upped his own numbers from the season-opening game against West Virginia, as the sophomore caught 10 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. The receiving total sets a new school single-game record, surpassing the previous record of 186 receiving yards by Courtney Freeman against Western Kentucky on Oct. 19, 1996. The yardage total is also the fourth-best, single-game mark in Big South history.

Strike One for the Record
Tommy Beecher found Mike Brown open over the middle of the field and the sophomore eluded several would-be tacklers for an 80-yard touchdown pass. The scoring strike was the seventh-longest touchdown pass in Big South history and Liberty's longest since Adrian Hall completed a 76-yard touchdown pass to Erick Harris against Akron on Oct. 12, 2002.