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Game Day Central: Stony Brook

November 18, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Game Day Central: Stony Brook

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Today's Game
The Flames host Stony Brook on Senior Day at Williams Stadium, in a game that will determine this year's Big South Conference champion. Liberty (7-3, 4-1 BSC) and Stony Brook (6-4, 5-0 BSC) are the top two programs in the league and shared the conference title last year.

Series with the Seawolves
Today's game will be the third meeting in the series with Stony Brook, following the two programs splitting the last two encounters in the series. Liberty controlled all aspects of the game in a 33-0 victory over Stony Brook in Lynchburg in 2008, while Stony Brook used a last-second touchdown to pull off a 36-33 upset on Long Island last year.

Last Year's Finale
Tommy Beecher hit Dominique Jones with a seven-yard pass with 55 seconds left to play, seemingly putting No. 16 Liberty up for good over homestanding Stony Brook, 33-29. However, Seawolves quarterback Michael Coulter threw two quick hits to Jordan Gush, 64 and 10 yards, with the second scoring the game's decisive touchdown 25 seconds later to seal a 36-33 upset victory for Stony Brook on Nov. 21, 2009, at Stony Brook, N.Y.

Big Score in the Burg
The last time Liberty faced Stony Brook in Lynchburg, the Flames controlled almost every aspect of the game and No. 15 Liberty rolled to a 33-0 victory over the Seawolves on Oct. 11, 2008. In Stony Brook's first-ever Big South game, Liberty limited the visitors to 233 total offensive yards and 10 first downs to cap off an 11-game winning streak for the Flames.

Sensational Seniors
This year's senior class has quickly erased last year's graduating class's program record. The 2009 squad finished their careers on Liberty Mountain with a 32-13 record, which surpassed the previous school record for senior class wins by five victories. However, Liberty's 40-14 victory over Gardner-Webb on Nov. 6 made this year's senior class the new program record holder. This year's senior class enters today's regular-season finale with a 33-11 four-year record.

Nice in November
During the last five years, Liberty has finished strong under head coach Danny Rocco. The Flames have posted a 12-3 record in games played during the month of November and have outscored opponents by an average of 16.55 points per game during those contests (565 PF/317 PA).

Eight is Great
Liberty enters today's game on the verge of a program first. The Flames have already guaranteed themselves their fifth-straight winning season, the longest such streak in program history. However, Liberty will also be looking for its eighth win, a mark the program has reached the three seasons prior.

Tough at Home
Liberty enters its final regular-season home game of the year against Stony Brook on Saturday having won its last 11 home Big South Conference contests. The last time that Liberty lost a home Big South game was on Oct. 21, 2006, to Gardner-Webb, 27-24, one of only three conference losses under head coach Danny Rocco. During the 11-game streak, which is a conference record, Liberty has outscored its opponents by an average of 30.18 points per game (500 PF/168 PA).

Home Cooking
Liberty has won its last seven games at Williams Stadium, which is tied for the ninth-longest active home winning streak among FCS programs around the country. During the seven-game home winning streak, Liberty has scored 50 or more points four times, has scored 40 or more points in all seven games, is averaging 49.7 points scored per contest and is winning games by an average of 35.3 points per game.

A Peak at the Polls
Despite being one of eight Top 25 programs to fall this past weekend, Liberty remains ranked in both national polls. Liberty is currently ranked No. 21 in the Sports Network/ poll and No. 18 in the FCS Coaches listing. Dating back to the second week of the 2008 season, Liberty has been ranked inside the Top 25 for 33 out of the last 41 weekly polls (including preseason and end of the year rankings).

Oh What a Run
Including a 40-14 home victory against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 6, Liberty has posted a 20-4 record under head coach Danny Rocco against Big South teams since he took over the program in 2006. Liberty four Big South losses under Rocco have come by a combined 22 points, with three of the four being decided by three or less points.

Running with the Flames
The Flames have been one of the nation's top FCS rushing programs over the past eight seasons, as Liberty has ranked among the Top 30 rushing teams in the nation seven out of the last eight years. During the span, the Flames have surpassed the 2,000-yard mark six out of eight years and have averaged 2,138 rushing yards per season. Last year, Liberty just missed the mark, rushing for 1,937 yards, but still managed to finish the year ranked No. 21 in the country in rushing offense (176.1 yards per game).

Rushing Attack is Back
After rushing for an average of 116.25 yards and three touchdowns during the first four games of the season, Liberty has turned things around the latter part of the season. The Flames have averaged 199.0 yards per game and have scored 15 rushing touchdowns during those six games. Liberty now currently ranks No. 40 nationally in rushing offense, averaging 165.9 rushing yards per game.

Run, Baby, Run
The Flames ran for 259 yards against Presbyterian College on Oct. 30, the team's second-highest rushing total of the year. Liberty has now rushed for 200 or more yards twice this season and 22 times in five seasons under head coach Danny Rocco.

Run Blockers
In three out of five Big South games this year, the Flames have held an opponent to less than 100 team rushing yards, as Charleston Southern, VMI and Gardner-Webb each failed to cross the threshold. Liberty is now allowing an average of 97.8 rushing yards per game in Big South contests, as compared to 150.8 rushing yards allowed in non-conference games.

Best Against the Best
Stony Brook comes into this week's game ranks No. 9 nationally by averaging 234.90 rushing yards per game. The Seawolves have rushed for 200 or more yards in seven games and have scored 24 rushing touchdowns. Against Big South foes, Stony Brook is averaging 258.8 rushing yards per game with 14 rushing touchdowns.

Demanding More Defense
Liberty's highly touted offensive schemes have caught regional and national attention during the last several seasons, but it is the play of the defense that pleases head coach Danny Rocco. Last year, the Flames finished the season ranked No. 24 in the country in scoring defense (19.09 points per game), marking the third time in four years under Rocco that Liberty has finished the year holding opponents to less than 20 points per game and ranked inside the Top 25 in the statistical category.

Dancing Down Marker
Despite two of its lower first down total games (20 against Gardner-Webb and 21 against Coastal Carolina), Liberty still ranks No. 2 nationally in first down offense. The Flames are averaging 23.80 first downs per game and only trail Murray State, who has two more first downs than the Flames in 2010 (240/24.0 average).

Chasing the Mark Again
Liberty enters its Big South Conference battle with Stony Brook having completed 64.04 percent of its pass attempts (228-of-356). Liberty currently ranks No. 6 nationally in team passing competition percentage, with Murray State leading the nation with a 67.43 completion rate (325-of-482).

Airing It Out
During the 2010 season, the Flames have certainly taken to the air to find a way to score. Liberty currently ranks No. 8 nationally in passing offense, as the Flames are averaging 284.20 passing yards per game.

10 and Counting
The Flames have finished the first 10 games of the 2010 season by passing for more than 200 yards each game. Dating back to last season, Liberty has surpassed the mark 12-straight games, which is the longest such stretch under fifth-year head coach Danny Rocco.

Better with the Ball in the Past
Since taking over the program in 2006, head coach Danny Rocco has tried to instill the importance of taking care of the football. Liberty has finished inside the Top 25 all four years under Rocco in turnover margin, highlighted by the 2009 campaign, where the Flames led the country in turnover margin (+1.91). Liberty ranked No. 7 in 2007 (1.27), No. 20 in 2006 (0.55) and No. 21 in 2008 (0.67) in turnover margin.

Not Quite the Same This Year
After four years of taking better care of the football, Liberty finds itself struggling with turnovers in 2010. The Flames have lost the turnover battle in half their games and are currently -2 overall (19 turnovers lost to 17 turnovers gained). Since 2006, Liberty has a +47 turnover figure as compared to its opponents, as Liberty has committed 66 turnovers, while forcing 113 giveaways. During the last five years, Liberty has finished 17 games (out of 55 total games) without committing a turnover.

Too Many Turnovers
The Flames are coming off one of their worst performances as far as turnovers are concerned. On Nov. 6, Gardner-Webb forced Liberty to give the ball way four times, with one interception and three fumbles. Liberty has lost the turnover battle the last three weeks and the four giveaways ties a program high under head coach Danny Rocco (also finished with four turnovers against Glenville State in 2008).

The Rocco Zone
Liberty continues to be highly successful when entering the opposing team's red zone, having scored on 37-of-43 drives that penetrate the opponent's 20-yard line. Liberty currently ranks No. 10 nationally in red zone offense and has scored 24 red zone touchdowns through seven games. During the last five years under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty has scored 85.3 percent of the times it has gotten to the opponent's 20-yard line (209-of-245), including 146 red zone touchdowns.

Far Too Many Flags
For the third week in a row, Liberty struggled in the penalty category, as the Flames finished the Coastal Carolina game with eight penalties for 52 yards. Liberty has been penalized 25 times for 223 yards during the last three games, after averaging 4.28 penalties per game and 38.57 penalty yards per game during the first seven contests of the season. Liberty now ranks No. 29 nationally in fewest penalties per game (5.50) and No. 39 in penalty yards per game (49.30) after ranking inside the Top 10 in both categories following seven games.

Clock Kings
The Flames dominated time of possession during a recent three game stretch, finishing the trio of contests with a combined 37:16 time of possession advantage over VMI (12:44), Presbyterian College (15:42) and Gardner-Webb (8:50). Liberty currently ranks No. 27 nationally in average time of possession (31:44) following this recent surge in time of possession.

Different Type of Day
Coastal Carolina finished last weekend's game with a 11:20 time of possession advantage over the Flames, aided by a nine-plus minute edge during both the third and fourth quarter. The TOP disparity was the largest this season by an opponent and marked the ninth time in 55 games under head coach Danny Rocco an opponent has finished with a 10-plus minute time of possession advantage.

Big Time Mark
Liberty finished the Presbyterian College game with a season-high time of possession advantage, ending the game with a 15:42 TOP edge. This marked the largest TOP advantage under head coach Danny Rocco. Liberty's fourth quarter control played a large part into this figure, as the Flames finished held onto the ball for 12:02 out of 15 minutes during the final quarter in Clinton, S.C.

Senior Day Salute
Today's contest will mark the final regular season home game for 19 players, who have played a significant part in changing the culture of Liberty Football. This talented group will long be remembered as the team that turned a 1-10 program into a perennial Top 25 program and three-time Big South conference champions. Thank you to the following players, who will be playing in their final home regular season game today: Terry Adams, Patrick Bannon, Doncel Bolt, Danny Broggin, Chad Brown, Matt Camire, Kyle DeArmon, Zach Duke, Bellmon Hicks, Donald Manns, Josh Medlin, Kyle O'Donnell, Nathan Revell, Daryl Robertson, Ben Shipps, Alex Stadler, Justin Vargas, Soeren Wendland and Matthias Wrede.