The Liberty Flames were upset by the Saint Francis Red Flash, 13-7, to fall to 3-2 on the season.
RANKING THE TOP PLAYS FROM THE GAME
- At the end of the 3rd quarter, with the Flames trailing 13-0, Coach Gill decided to go for it on 4th and 1 inside the 5 yard line. Unfortunately, Carrington Mosley was stopped short of the first down as Liberty turned it over on downs. With the offense struggling all day, this failure in the red zone proved too much to overcome.
- Saint Francis quarterback Bear Fenimore found All-American wide receiver Kamron Lewis for a touchdown connection to give the Red Flash the 13-0 lead late in the 3rd quarter. The scored proved to be the difference in the game.
- With the Liberty offense continuing to struggle and backed up inside its own 10 yard line, Kentory Matthews burst into the open field for what ended up a 35 yard scamper. The speedy running back looked like he was going to take it the distance, but the Red Flash defender never gave up and tracked Matthews down. If Matthews was able to run past the defense and get into the end zone it could have been the extra boost the team needed.
- On the first play of the game, Saint Francis attempted a flea flicker, but Chris Turner blew it up on the corner blitz as he sacked Bear Fenimore for a 10 yard loss.
- The Red Flash scored the first points of the game with a 9 yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the first quarter, but Tolen Avery was able to block the PAT. Chris Turner picked it up and returned the ball to the 5 yard line before being tripped up. If he was able to return it to the end zone, the Flames would have picked up 2 points.
WHAT IT MEANS
After scoring 42 or more points in each of its first 3 games, Liberty’s offense has come to a screeching halt the last 2 times out. Of course, each of the previous 2 ball games have been against top FCS defenses, but a combined total of 17 points in 2 games isn’t what offensive coordinator Joe Dailey aspires to. Changes need to be made over the bye week to get this offense back on track.
A loss to an FCS team that offers just 43 scholarships, significantly below the FCS limit of 63 and Liberty’s 75 scholarships it currently has, cannot be looked upon highly by the administration. Of course, none of us know what Athletic Director Ian McCaw thinks, but given his track record he won’t stand too many losses like this.
This was Liberty’s first loss against Saint Francis and its first ever loss to an NEC team at Williams Stadium. While each game is unique to itself, take a look at the series history with the Red Flash – 2007: Liberty 68, Saint Francis 10; 2010: Liberty 52, Saint Francis 7; 2017: Saint Francis 13, Liberty 7. Not a good trend.
Liberty is 3-2, and the 2 losses came against top 5 Jacksonville State and Saint Francis who is a likely playoff team again this year. Those two teams are a combined 6-2 this year. Meanwhile, the Flames wins have come against Baylor, Morehead State and Indiana State. Those 3 teams are a combined 2-12. The Bears are 0-5, the Sycamores are 0-4, and the Eagles are 2-3. MSU’s 2 wins came against an NAIA school and a non-scholarship Dayton team.
Liberty enters its bye week where they will attempt to get its offense back on track after back-to-back lackluster performances. It will also be interesting to see how focused and motivated the team is the rest of the season following this loss. The motivation was already a question mark with no chance at the FCS playoffs or a Big South Championship, but now two tough losses and no chance to get to 10 wins is just deflating. The players we talked to post game, most notably senior captain Solomon McGinty, were visibly shaken up and emotional with this loss.
Following the bye week, the Flames will return to action against Kennesaw State for its first Big South game of the season. Even though Liberty is ineligible for the Big South championship, its games will still count towards the conference standings. The players routinely mentioned winning the conference title, even though ineligible, as a goal during training camp.
The Owls improved to 3-1 on the season with a 38-34 win over Division II foe North Greenville. KSU has won 3 straight games over Tennessee Tech, Alabama State, and North Greenville. They opened the season with a 28-23 loss to Samford. Next week the Owls host Texas Southern.
BY THE NUMBERS
21-42 | Buckshot Calvert struggled to a 21-of-42 passing performance. He also threw 2 interceptions and just 1 touchdown.
4 | The Flames finished the game with 4 turnovers, the same amount Liberty had in its first 4 games.
20 | Both teams combined for 20 punts on the evening, Liberty had 8 while Saint Francis had 12.
15,886 | The attendance originally reported in the press box as 14,832, but the in stadium public address announcer announced the attendance at 15,886 and this is what was the final report.
THEY SAID IT
Flames head coach Turner Gill on the team’s performance:
“Offensively, when you have 4 turnovers, you’re not going to win any football games in that situation. Our guys played hard, got after it, we just didn’t execute to the best of our ability. We’ll learn from this game, we’ll move forward and get better after the bye week and get ready for the next ball game. Our guys stayed together as a football team I liked their effort at the end, they kept fighting, kept trying to make something happen to give us a chance. Unfortunately, this time, we came up short.”
Solomon McGinty fighting through his emotions after the loss:
“It’s tough. I just tell them you got to let it go, its the same thing as things that happen to you in life. You can’t bring nobody back from the dead, you know what I mean. You have to move on in life. So, at the end of the day, its 1 game. We still have a whole schedule ahead of us without playoffs. If we’re going to let teams come in here and do what Saint Francis did, then why do we have these jerseys on? At the end of the day, life goes on.”
(gets very emotional)
“I just love this group of guys, man. I know we grind hard. I don’t like anybody coming into our stadium and doing this. At the end of the day, its no fingers pointed. You’ve got to take it on the head man. We’ve got a break coming up, and at the end of the day we’ve got homecoming and we just got to put on a show.”
Chris Turner on the loss:
“It’s pretty tough, that’s a game that we wanted to win especially coming off the loss. Everybody is taking the loss pretty hard, but we just have to move on and prepare for Kennesaw State.”
Carrington Mosley on his message to the team after the game:
“Me personally, I just want to apologize for my performance. I feel like I wasn’t there for my guys, as a whole. I need to do a better job of keeping those guys up when I can. I love every single one of them, and we’re going to get together tomorrow and learn from our mistakes. We’re going to continue to press on towards our goal. We have a great group of guys. We have definitely a lot more to prove for this season.”