Late Score Lifts Hokies Over Flames
After Liberty reeled off 15-straight points to take the lead, Virginia Tech used a third rushing touchdown by Jalen Holston midway through the fourth quarter to secure a 23-22 win, Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
The win snapped Virginia Tech’s seven-game losing streak and moves the Hokies to 3-8 on the season. The loss is Liberty’s first at home in 2022 and drops the Flames to 8-3 following their second setback in a row.
The game was played in front of 23,055 fans, the second-largest crowd in stadium history. The Flames have played their last four games at home in front of 20,000-plus fans, a first in school history.
The overall stats were as close as the margin of the final score. Liberty outgained Virginia Tech by just eight total yards on the day, 332 to 324.
The Flames’ rushing attack was held to 115 yards on 29 carries (4.0 yards per carry), its third-lowest rushing total of the season. Shedro Louis paced Liberty’s limited rushing attack with nine carries for 64 yards.
Liberty split time between quarterbacks Johnathan Bennett and Kaidon Salter. Salter finished the game completing 12-of-18 passing attempts for 119 yards and was sacked twice.
Bennett was 8-of-15 under center for 98 yards and was sacked three times. Each quarterback had a fumble on the day, accounting for the game’s only two turnovers.
Demario Douglas was the top target for the Liberty quarterbacks. He finished the game with nine receptions for 69 yards. Noah Frith followed with five receptions for 74 yards.
Liberty had two tacklers finish the game with 10 stops – Javon Scruggs and Aakil Washington (career high).
Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 23-22
Virginia Tech (3-8, 1-6 ACC)
Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)
Conversions and turnovers decided the game in the fourth quarter, allowing the Hokies to escape with the one-point victory.
Salter fumbled the ball on the fourth play of the fourth quarter, setting up the game-winning drive for Virginia Tech. The Hokies converted on two third-down plays and a fourth-down play during the 13-play, 64-yard drive that gave them the lead for good with 7:46 left to play.
After the Liberty defense forced a three-and-out series, late in the fourth quarter, the Hokies defense sacked Bennett on back-to-back plays with the redshirt junior giving the ball away on the second sack to seal the victory for Virginia Tech.
- The Hokies were the first team to find the end zone on the day, taking a 7-0 lead with 6:57 left to play in the quarter. Jalen Holston scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown, capping an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was kept alive by a Flames’ penalty on what was a third-down stop on the play before the touchdown run.
- The Flames tied the game at 7-7 with 2:34 remaining in the opening period on a 15-yard touchdown run by Bennett. The quarterback set up the scoring play with a 27-yard pass play to Noah Frith and a 12-yard pass play to Treon Sibley.
- The Hokies regained the lead at 13:09,14-7, on a five-yard touchdown run by Holston on a fourth-and-one play. The 12-play, 67-yard drive saw Virginia Tech pick up a first down on a punt field goal where John Love gained 11 yards on a play to the right side.
- Virginia Tech looked like it might double its lead midway through the second quarter, but the Flames were able to come up with a third-down stop on their five-yard line. Love followed with a 23-yard field goal, giving the Hokies a 17-7 edge at 7:06.
- The 10-point lead was short-lived as Shedro Louis returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown on the game’s next play, to pull Liberty back within three, 17-14. Louis was the last Flame to return a kickoff for a touchdown, doing so on another 97-yard scoring play against Maine on Oct. 19, 2019.
- One last special teams play allowed Liberty to tie the game just before halftime as Nick Brown knocked down a 47-yard field goal with five seconds left to knot the game, 17-17.
- Liberty’s defense gave the Flames their first lead of the day when Kendy Charles sacked Grant Wells in the end zone at 12:04, giving Liberty a 19-17 edge. Liberty pinned the Hokies deep in their own territory thanks to Aidan Alves’ third punt of the game and 21st of the season inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
- The Flames pushed their scoring run to 15-straight points when Brown sent a 37-yard field goal through the uprights to give Liberty a 22-17 lead with 3:50 left in the quarter.
- Virginia Tech regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter when Holston scored from one-yard out with 7:46 left to play. Following a failed two-point conversion pass play, the Hokies led 23-22. The 13-play, 64-yard drive was kept alive by Virginia Tech’s pair of third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion.
The Flames will close out their regular season schedule next Saturday when Liberty welcomes New Mexico State to Williams Stadium for Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day. The Flames have won three out of their four matchups against New Mexico State, including both games in Lynchburg (28-21 in 2018; 49-28 in 2019).
Date: Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022
Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Williams Stadium)
Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)
Kickoff: 12:02 p.m. EST
Photo at Top of Page: Javon Scruggs