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Balanced attack helps Flames Football edge FIU in home opener

The Flames celebrate a score in Saturday’s 36-34 triumph over FIU at Williams Stadium, where they have now won 16 of their last 18 home openers. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

Liberty University’s football team defended its turf at Williams Stadium on Saturday afternoon, overcoming a 28-27 deficit heading into the fourth quarter before holding on for a 36-34 home-opening win over Florida International University in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The win pushes Liberty’s (2-0) overall winning streak to four games and extends its home winning streak to six. The Flames are 2-0 against Conference USA opponents this season. It was the first Liberty football game aired on an ESPN linear network since Nov. 19, 2015, when the Flames upset No. 4-ranked Coastal Carolina, 24-21 at Williams Stadium.

Following up on a big opening week in a win at Western Kentucky, Flames quarterback Malik Willis completed 24-of-30 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 85 yards on 13 carries.

Senior wide receiver DJ Stubbs makes a one-handed catch of a pass from quarterback Malik Willis to extend Liberty’s lead to 24-14 in the third quarter. (Photo by Joel Isimeme)

Liberty running back Joshua Mack (107 yards rushing, one TD) and receiver DJ Stubbs (119 yards receiving, one TD) both eclipsed 100 yards in the win. Liberty outgained the Panthers in total yardage 527-304.

Alex Barbir made a career-high three field goals out of four attempts, the last providing the margin of victory after FIU missed a potentially game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

Defensive end Durell Johnson accounted for two and a half of the Flames’ five sacks. Jayod Sanders’ sack near the FIU goal line of Stone Norton — the third quarterback the Panthers used on the day — sealed the win for Liberty in the closing minutes.

>>Read the full story plus postgame notes and quotes on the Flames’ Athletics website.