Courtesy of Liberty Athletics
- No. 16/12 Liberty overcame two first half turnovers and a tied halftime score by scoring on its first three drives of the second half, propelling it to a 34-24 victory over Presbyterian College, Saturday afternoon, inside of Bailey Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Liberty moves to 6-2 on the season and 3-0 in Big South play, following its fourth-straight win. The loss drops Presbyterian College to 1-7 on the year and 1-3 in conference action.
Liberty wasted little time jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead. The Flames took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for a touchdown at 11:49. It was the seventh time in eight games that the Blue Hose have allowed a touchdown on their first defensive series of the game.
The ninth and final play of the 64-yard scoring drive was a handoff to SirChauncey Holloway. The sophomore easily found a hole on the left side of the line to score his team-leading sixth rushing touchdown of the season from one-yard out.
After trading unsuccessful drives, Presbyterian College got on the scoreboard, when Cam Miller connected on a 39-yard field goal with 1:05 left in the first quarter. The 13-play, 69-yard scoring drive was spotlighted by lengthy runs of 20 and 25 yards by Trandon Dendy, the Blue Hose’s leading rusher coming into the contest.
Presbyterian College took its first lead of the afternoon three drives later, thanks to a Liberty turnover. Facing second-and-six from the 41-yard line, Mike Brown scrambled and tried to find Chris Summers open downfield. But the junior overthrew the receiver and it was picked off by Matthian Burton.
The errant pass was returned 41 yards to the Liberty 24-yard line, setting up the Blue Hose’s next score. Four plays later, back-up quarterback Ryan Singer called his own number and scored from five yards out to give the home team a 10-7 edge with 10:13 left to play in the first half.
The Flames answered back on the ensuing drive, but were forced to settle for a 34-yard Matt Bevins field goal at the 5:58 mark of the second quarter, tying the game at 10-10. The kick was the 44th successful field goal of his career, making him the school’s new all-time field goals leader.
A 16-yard burst to the right side of the field gave the Flames a new set of downs inside the 20-yard line. However, the nation’s No. 3 red zone scoring offense could not find the end zone. Brown attempted to thread the needle on a pass to the end zone for Kyle DeArmon, but Greg Palmer was able to get a hand in front of the pass for the break-up.
Liberty’s defense came up strong on the next drive, forcing a three-and-out for PC. However, another Liberty turnover gave the home squad a chance to put additional points on the scoreboard.
Brown kept the ball on a 1-and-10 play at its own 34-yard line, but Brian Wilson was able to dislodge the football and Derek Brown came up with the loose ball for the Blue Hose.
Four plays later, Myron Gary found Dendy open in the flat and the redshirt senior was able to find the end zone on the 12-yard scoring play to take a 17-10 edge with 1:09 left in the quarter.
The back and forth scoring continued, as Brown was able to overcome his second turnover of the game and lead the Flames 67 yards down the field to quickly knot the game in 46 seconds.
A 28-yard pass to Summers and a 19-yard reception by B.J. Hayes set up consecutive runs by Brown to find the end zone. After a 13-yard scamper, the junior scored his 16th career rushing touchdown by calling his number to score from seven yards out and knot the score with 23 ticks left on the first-half clock.
The Flames finished the first half with 110 more offensive yards than the home team, as Liberty finished with 237 yards on 44 plays to PC’s 127 yards on 30 plays.
Holloway and Brown both scored on the ground and finished with 50 and 46 rushing yards, respectively. Brown was 14-of-24 for 124 yards, while Summers was the leading receiver with six catches for 50 yards.
After forcing the Blue Hose to punt the ball away on the opening drive of the third quarter, Liberty took the ball the length of the field to regain the lead, 24-17, with 6:26 to play in the quarter.
Patrick Morgano’s punt pinned Liberty at the one-yard line, but Brown led the charge for the Flames to regain the lead. Brown carried the ball five times for 48 yards and completed two passes for 28 yards on the drive, setting up a one-yard burst by Holloway up the middle for the score. The burst completed a nine-play, 99-yard scoring drive, the longest of the season by the Liberty offense.
A sack by Danny Broggin and a pass break-up by Kevin Fogg on the next drive forced the Blue Hose to punt after three plays on the next drive, which set up Liberty’s next score.
Brown was 4-of-4 on the 66-yard scoring driving, including a 32-yard pass over the middle to Gabe Henderson, setting up Holloway’s third one-yard rushing touchdown of the afternoon. The scamper up the middle pushed Liberty’s lead to 31-17 with 80 seconds left in the third quarter.
Liberty scored on its third-straight drive of the second half when Bevins connected on his second field goal of the game. The 43-yard effort, his longest of the season, gave Liberty a 34-17 lead with 8:11 left in the contest.
Presbyterian College tried to stay in the game, as Singer scored on the next play with a 70-yard rushing touchdown to pull the Blue Hose back within 10 points, 34-24.
The Blue Hose were able to stop the Flames on their next drive, when Brown’s pass fell incomplete on a fourth-and-second play at the PC six-yard line. However, Liberty used up more than five minutes on the clock during the drive, which did not leave enough time for the home squad to mount one last charge.
For the third time this year, Liberty finished a contest with 500-plus offensive yards. The Flames, who came into the game ranked No. 7 nationally in total offense, finished the game with 536 yards on 85 plays, averaging 6.3 yards per offensive play.
Brown accounted for nearly 80 percent of Liberty’s offensive yards. The junior, who individually ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense, finished the contest with a career-high 421 total offensive yards. He rushed for 149 yards, marking his first career 100-yard game on the ground, and completed 25-of-38 pass attempts for 272 yards.
Brown finished the game with 23 carries, followed by Holloway, who rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries and a career-high three touchdowns.
The Blue Hose became the second team this season to keep Summers out of the end zone, as the nation’s FCS leader in receiving touchdowns did not score in the game. He caught eight passes for 82 yards, while Hayes finished the game with eight receptions for 92 yards.
Liberty continued to spread its tackles around, as Kyle O’Donnell led the team on the day with five stops, including four solo tackles, two tackles for a loss, and eight-yard sack and a forced fumble. Doncel Bolt and Fogg followed with four solo tackles apiece.
The Flames will begin the final month of their regular season schedule next weekend when they host Gardner-Webb inside Williams Stadium. The contest, which is Military Appreciation Day on Liberty Mountain, will kick off at 3:30 p.m.