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    Last Second Field Goal Lifts Syracuse Over Liberty

    Sep 25, 2021 | Syracuse NY | Football

    Postgame Press Conference: Head Coach Hugh Freeze

    Postgame Press Conference: Malik Willis

    Postgame Press Conference: Storey Jackson

    Top Plays: Syracuse

    The Flames erased a 14-point second-half deficit to tie the game in the fourth, but a late fumble and a 35-yard field goal as time expired allowed Syracuse to escape with a 24-21 win, Friday night at the Carrier Dome.

    Liberty scored on consecutive drives to end the third and open the fourth quarter to tie the game and had possession of the ball with less than four minutes left in the game.

    However, the Flames’ first turnover of the 2021 season gave Syracuse the ball back with under four to play. The Orange ran the clock out, setting up the game-winning kick.

    The setback hands the Flames their first loss of the 2021 season (3-1). Syracuse moves to 3-1, as well, after back-to-back wins inside the Dome.

    The Flames edged the Orange in total yards, 369 to 305. Liberty had a more balanced attack in the contest (150 rushing, 219 passing), while Syracuse mostly used its run game to move the ball up and down the field (228 rushing, 77 passing).

    Malik Willis finished the game completing 14-of-19 passing attempts for 205 yards and three touchdowns; however, the redshirt junior was sacked six times on the night.

    Shedro Louis led the Flames in rushing yards (59 on nine carries), while Willis carried the ball a team-high 17 times (49 yards).

    Demario Douglas was Willis’ top target, finishing the contest with a game-high eight receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Storey Jackson paced Liberty with 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops.

    Box Score Highlights:
    Final Score: 24-21
    Liberty (3-1)
    Syracuse (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
    Location: Carrier Dome (Syracuse, N.Y.)|
    Attendance: 29,942

    Turning Point:

    Trailing 21-7 late in the third quarter, Liberty mounted back-to-back scoring drives to tie the contest early in the fourth quarter.

    The Flames’ defense gave their offensive teammates a chance to take the visitor’s first lead of the contest during the fourth quarter. Liberty limited the Orange to 31 total yards on three-consecutive drives late in the game forced four-straight punts.

    After Syracuse punted the ball to the Flames with 4:21 left to play, Liberty got a 10-yard gain on a run by Willis to start what could have been its game-winning push.

    However, the quarterback was sacked for the sixth time of the night. The blindside hit caused Willis to fumble the ball away, resulting in Liberty’s first turnover of the 2021 season.

    Syracuse took over at the Liberty 30-yard line. After picking up their 22nd first down of the game, the Orange was able to wind the clock down, setting up Andre Szmyt’s game winner as time expired.

    Play-By-Play Breakdown:

    First Quarter

    • Solid defense on both side of the ball kept the game scoreless following 15 minutes of action. The two teams combined for 169 total offensive yards in the first quarter (Liberty 72; Syracuse 97), with 111 of those yards coming on the ground (Liberty 59, Syracuse 52).
    • Both teams had chances to score in the first quarter, but their field goal units failed to convert. Liberty’s Alex Barbir missed a 36-yard attempt at 9:43, while a 52-yard attempt by Szmyt fell short of the crossbar at 5:50.

    Second Quarter

    • Syracuse controlled the pace of play during the second quarter, taking a 14-0 lead with back-to-back scoring drives early during the period.
    • Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader broke the scoreless tie on the fourth play of the quarter, scoring on a one-yard run to give the Orange a 7-0 edge at 13:40.
    • After holding the Flames to their first three-and-out series of the game, Syracuse kept it on the ground for four-straight plays. The fourth was a 27-yard scamper by running back Sean Tucker to give the Orange a 14-0 lead at 9:51.
    • The Flames pieced together their best offensive drive of the first half late in the second, an eight-play, 76-yard drive, that was capped off by a seven-yard slant from Willis to Louis with 1:33 left before halftime, trimming their deficit to 14-7.

    Third Quarter

    • Both teams added points to the scoreboard during the third quarter, keeping the contest a one-possession game heading into the final quarter.
    • The Orange widened their lead back to 14 points on their first drive of the third, piecing together a nine-play, 74-yard effort. Syracuse kept the ball on the ground for eight of the nine plays, ending in a 10-yard quarterback keeper for Shrader at 9:46.
    • Late in the third quarter, Liberty answered with a nine-play, 73-yard drive that was capped on a 23-yard scoring pass from Willis to CJ. Daniels at 2:57.

    Fourth Quarter

    • Following another Orange three-and-out series, the Flames offense tied the game on a quick five-play, 75-yard drive. The 97-second scoring drive tied the game with 33-yard pass play from Willis to Douglas.
    • Although Liberty outgained Syracuse in the fourth quarter (95 yards to 40), the Orange controlled the clock with nearly 10 minutes of time of possession (9:49) to allow Syracuse to claim the victory.


    What’s Next:

    The Flames will continue a stretch where they are playing four out of five games on the road when Liberty travels to Birmingham, Ala., next Saturday against UAB. The game will feature the grand opening of the new $200 million multi-purpose Protective Stadium and it will be broadcast on the CSB Sports Network and LFSN Radio.

    Date: Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021
    Location: Birmingham, Ala. (Protective Stadium)
    TV: CBS Sports Network
    Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)
    Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. (EST)