Story and photo courtesy of Liberty Athletics
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Liberty Flames allowed an opponent season-low 177 yards of total offense and controlled the clock in a 21-13 non-conference home victory over Concord, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium.
With the win, Liberty’s third in a row, the Flames move to 3-4 on the season. The loss ends the Mountain Lions’ two-game win streak and evens their record at 4-4 on the year. Liberty is now 5-0 all-time against Concord.
The Family Weekend game was played in front of 18,643 fans, the fourth largest crowd in Williams Stadium history.
It wasn’t until the fifth play of the second quarter that either team could find the scoreboard, which saw the Mountain Lions take a 7-0 lead thanks to a strong special teams effort.
Liberty managed to cross into Concord’s red zone before Flames quarterback Josh Woodrum was sacked for an 11-yard loss.
Aaron Sassaman was then called in to attempt his first career field goal from 47 yards out. The sophomore’s attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage by Ervin Moore and the loose ball was scooped up and returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Nate Pollard to give the visitors the edge with 12:57 left to play before halftime.
The Flames were able to answer back on their next possession, putting together a 10-play, 94-yard scoring drive to knot the score at 7-7 with 7:52 left in the opening half.
Six rushes by Sirchauncey Holloway were mixed in between some sizeable passing plays from Woodrum.
The first was a 27-yard completion to Elliott Dutra to get the Flames near midfield. Four plays later and facing third-and-one, freshman wide receiver Darrin Peterson was able to create some space between himself and his defender to pull in a 41-yard touchdown pass in the end zone for his first career touchdown reception.
The score remained the same until the game’s first turnover was created. After Liberty’s Francis Bah blocked a 47-yard field goal by Andy Ellington, the Flames took over possession of the football with less than six minutes left to play before halftime.
Aldreakis Allen carried the ball for three straight plays before Woodrum tried to find Liberty’s leading receiver Pat Kelly open for a reception. However, the senior slipped on the play and Riyahd Richardson intercepted the pass and returned it 49 yards to the one-yard line.
Fullback Ben Nester was given the ball on the next play and found the end zone with 3:41 left before halftime. Bah once again was able to get a hand on a kicked ball, blocking the extra point attempt to leave the score 13-7 in favor of the visitors.
Woodrum completed all three of his pass attempts on the next drive for a total of 42 yards, helping set up a three-yard touchdown run by Holloway with 43 seconds left before halftime. Sassaman’s kick was successful, allowing the Flames to enter the locker room with a 14-13 lead.
The Flames outgained the Mountain Lions 269 yards to 97 during the first half and finished with more than twice as many offensive plays (43 for Liberty and 17 for Concord).
Allen led Liberty’s 126-yard team rushing attack, carrying the ball 10 times for 71 yards. Holloway carried the ball 12 times and gained 44 yards.
Concord’s limited rushing attack was paced by Calvinaugh Jones, who had five rushing attempts for 12 yards. As a team, Concord had 24 rushing yards during the opening half.
Woodrum finished the first half completing 11-of-16 pass attempts for 143 yards, while Evin Dusold was 4-of-8 for Concord with 73 passing yards.
Dutra was Liberty’s leading first-half receiver with five receptions for 67 yards, while Dusold’s four completions were to four different Mountain Lion receivers. The longest pass was a 56-yarder to Jocorey Robins during the second quarter.
Another 10-play scoring drive allowed the Flames to extend their lead with 5:28 left to play in the third quarter.
Following a 22-yard punt return by Walt Aikens, Liberty elected to hand the ball to Holloway seven times on the 10-play drive. The senior picked up 52 of the team’s 56 yards on the seven carries, including the last, a two-yard run up the middle to push Liberty’s lead to 21-13.
Liberty’s defense took over from that point, allowing the visitors just 66 additional total offensive yards during the remaining 20 minutes of the contest.
Following the final horn, Liberty had allowed an opponent season-low 177 total offensive yards and held its fourth opponent in seven games below 300 total offensive yards. The Flames came into the game ranked No. 28 in the country in total defense (328.5 yards allowed per game).
The Flames dominated most of the offensive stats during the afternoon, finishing the game with more first downs (22 to 6), rushing yards (233 to 47), passing yards (173 to 130), total offensive yards (406 to 177) and time of possession (40:38 to 19:22).
The large edge on the clock marked the second time this season Liberty has finished a game with more than 40 minutes of total time of possession. The Flames came into the game ranked No. 6 in the country in average time of possession (33:47).
For the second straight game and the fifth time in his career, Holloway surpassed the 100-yard mark on the ground. The senior rushed 28 times for 142 yards and scored two touchdowns. Holloway now has 26 career touchdowns, leaving him just three away from cracking Liberty’s career top five list.
Allen followed with 17 carries for 94 yards, nearly giving the Flames their third running back duo this year to surpass the 100-yard mark in the same game.
Woodrum failed the hit the 200 passing yard mark for the first time as a starting quarterback. The redshirt freshman completed 16-of-24 passing attempts for 173 yards, but was sacked three times.
Dutra led the Flames on the game with seven catches for 80 yards, marking new career highs in both categories for the senior. The game marked the first time this year Kelly has not led the Flames in receiving, as he was ranked No. 7 in the country in receptions per game prior to the Concord game (7.83).
Jones, who was averaging 100.8 rushing yards per game on the season, finished the contest with 10 carries for 23 yards for the Mountain Lions. Robins followed with four rushes for 20 yards.
In his first career start at quarterback, Dusold was limited to 10-of-24 passing for 130 yards. Ansel Ponder led the Mountain Lions with three receptions for 18 yards, while Robins paced the team in total receiving yards on his 56-yard reception.
Only 15 players finished the game with tackles for Liberty, led by Brent Vinson. The senior finished the career game with 10 stops (five solo, five assisted), and recorded a nine-yard sack that knocked the Mountain Lions out of field goal range during the fourth quarter.
Concord had four players finish with double-figure stops, starting with 18 tackles by Jake Lilly (12 solo, six assisted).
Howard Jordan followed with a dozen stops (eight solo, four assisted), while Kevin Elliott and Davon Marion each had 11 tackles (eight solo and three assisted).
The Flames return to Big South play next weekend when they travel to Conway, S.C., to face Big South rival Coastal Carolina.
Both teams are coming off sizeable conference road victories. Last week, Liberty racked up a program-record 692 total offensive yards in a 56-7 win at Presbyterian College. Earlier today, Coastal Carolina scored the game’s first 34 points before allowing a late touchdown in a 34-7 road win over VMI in Lexington, Va.
The two teams have traded victories in the last two meetings, with the home team prevailing in both contests. The Chanticleers handed the Flames a 45-31 setback in Conway in 2010 and Liberty convincingly defeated No. 20 Coastal Carolina, 63-27, for a Homecoming win, last year.