Flames Open Home Schedule with Victory over Blazers
Another stout defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack allowed Liberty to open its home slate with a hard-fought 21-14 win over UAB Saturday night at Williams Stadium.
During the game, Liberty Athletics honored its 14th Athletics Hall of Fame class. The class included Jose Gomez (men’s soccer), Glenn Inverso (football), Natalie [Barr] Lyttle (field hockey), Jessica Moore (softball), Jacob Swinton (men’s track & field) and Paul Wetmore (head softball coach).
The Hall of Fame Weekend game was played in front of 18,892 faithful fans who endured on and off rain showers while cheering the Flames on for 60 minutes of play.
Following a game where they forced five turnovers in a four-overtime road win at Southern Miss, Liberty’s defense finished the night with four more turnovers. The Blazers fumbled the ball away four times, while Liberty only gave the ball away once in the rain-soaked contest.
The Flames outgained UAB on the night, 390 total offensive yards to 355. Liberty evenly distributed its offense, rushing 40 times for 188 yards and passing 25 times for 202 yards.
Conversely, the Blazers relied heavily on their rushing attack, gaining 241 of its 355 total offensive yards on the ground.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kaidon Salter made his first career start. He completed 13-of-25 passing attempts for 202 yards while leading the team with 14 carries for 79 yards. He recorded one of Liberty’s three rushing touchdowns on the night.
The other two rushing scores came from running backs Dae Dae Hunter (10 carries for 64 yards) and Shedro Louis (13 carries for 45 yards).
Salter found 10 different receivers on the night, with Noah Frith leading the way with a career-best 75 receiving yards on two receptions.
Four different defenders were responsible for the forced fumbles (Mike Smith, Jr., Ahmad Walker, Kendy Charles and Chris Megginson). Robert Rahimi and Javon Scruggs led Liberty’s defensive overall with a half dozen tackles each.
The Flames’ win today:
- Improves the Flames’ all-time record in home openers to 34-15-1, including an 18-2 mark in their last 20 home openers.
- Makes the Flames 2-0 to start the season for the third year in a row, marking the first time since 2006-2008 that Liberty has started three consecutive seasons at 2-0.
- Gives the Flames a 2-0 all-time record against UAB with their second victory over the Blazers in as many seasons.
- Boosts the Flames’ all-time record against Conference USA opponents to 9-1, including 8-0 under Hugh Freeze.
- Snaps the Flames’ two-game home losing streak, enabling them to avoid their first home losing skid of three or more games since a five-game streak spanning Sept. 17-Oct. 22, 2005.
- Gives the Flames a 4-0 record when playing at home on Sept. 10.
Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 21-14
UAB (1-1, 0-0 CUSA)
Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)
- Liberty went scoreless in the first quarter for the second game in a row. UAB finished the first 15 minutes of play with a 7-0 lead following a 31-yard rushing touchdown by Jermaine Brown, Jr., at the 1:17 mark.
- UAB gained 161 of its 241 rushing yards during the first 15 minutes of play and outgained Liberty 166 yards to 69 during the first period.
- The Flames found the end zone for the first time in the game when Shedro Louis scored from five yards out. The junior’s five-yard rushing touchdown capped an eight-play, 66-yard drive and tied the game at 7-7 with 12:55 left before halftime.
- UAB looked like it might regain the lead on the ensuing drive; however, the Blazers fumbled the ball away near the goal line. On a first-and-goal play from the six, UAB’s DeWayne McBride tried to rush up the middle, but linebacker Mike Smith, Jr., stripped the ball and Ahmad Walker recovered the fumble to keep the game tied at halftime.
- Liberty had the ball on three of the five entire drives during the third quarter. The Flames took their first lead in the game on their third effort, aided by a 28-yard punt return by Demario Douglas.
- The Flames kept the ball on the ground four times during the six-play, 62-yard drive, including a two-yard scamper by Salter, who was able to get across the goal line at the 1:18 mark to give Liberty a 14-7 lead.
- The Flames looked like they put the game away on their first drive of the fourth quarter when Hunter capped a seven-play, 53-yard scoring drive. The Hawaii transfer’s first touchdown at Liberty was a one-yard run to the right side of the line, giving the Flames a 21-7 lead with 10:59 left in the contest.
- Liberty’s first and only giveaway of the game was a fumble by Malik Caper with 4:47 left to play in the content. UAB found the end zone three plays later when McBride finished off his 20-carry, 177-yard rushing effort by scoring from nine yards out to pull the Blazers within a touchdown, 21-14 with 3:08 left to play.
- A 17-yard run by Louis and a 35-yard burst by Salter allowed Liberty to pick up two first downs on the next drive and wind out the clock for the win.
The Flames will take to the road again next week for a battle of 2-0 teams at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, N.C. Wake Forest is one of three teams on Liberty’s 2022 schedule who entered Week 2 of the season ranked in the top 25 polls. The Demon Deacons, who were ranked No. 19 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the Associate Press poll, remained undefeated following a 45-25 road win at Vanderbilt earlier today.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C. (Truist Field)
TV: ACC Network
Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. (EST)