Liberty improves to 2-1 following an impressive outing against an undermanned Morgan State team. The Flames won 38-10.
The Flames’ defense started where they left off last week against Monmouth forcing a quick 3 & out on the Bears opening drive. The Liberty offense followed with a quick touchdown on a 14 yard run from Desmond Rice to give Liberty the 7-0 lead early. Liberty got the drive started with a 14 yard end around to Greg Pratt, his first touch of the young season. Liberty would never look back as they scored on their next drive to take a 14-0 lead. This time the touchdown run came from running back Clifton Richardson from 7 yards out.
Coach Turner Gill obviously wanted to get the Flames’ rushing attack going early and often against Morgan State. Coming into the game Liberty had just 155 rushing yards in their first 2 games of the season combined. They surpassed that mark in the 1st half, and finished the game with 330 rushing yards. After the game head coach Turner Gill said “we definitely emphasized the running game needing to get done better than in our previous games.” Liberty ran the ball 46 times compared to just 15 thrown passes. Des Rice led all rushers with 97 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 9 carries. Clifton Richardson added 86 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries. Reserve wide receiver Greg Pratt was handed the ball 4 times on end around plays that went for 67 yards. Even quarterback Josh Woodrum got in on the running fest as he finished with 7 carries for 42 yards.
On the Flames’ 2nd drive, Woodrum found fullback Nicky Fualaau on a play action pass across the middle. The play went for 18 yards and set Liberty up in the red zone. This was the fullback’s first touch of the season as coach Gill continues to use multiple weapons on offense. On the ensuing Morgan State drive, the Bears would go 53 yards on 10 plays setting up a 35 yard field goal by Chris Moller getting Morgan State on the board, 14-3 early in the 2nd quarter.
After D.J. Abnar muffed the kickoff and a block in the back penalty, following Moller’s field goal, Liberty started their next drive on their own 4 yard line. This would not stop the Flames, as they marched 96 yards downfield in 11 plays for another touchdown making the score 21-3. The big play on the drive was a 38 yard run by Des Rice that looked like he might take it the distance; however, he was chased down near midfield. Des Rice described the play saying “he got the block and then it just split wide open, just green grass” ahead of him. The scoring play came on a 4th and 2 at the Morgan State 10 yard line that Des Rice punched in making the score 21-3 and basically killing any chance Morgan State thought they had on the evening. Liberty would score on all 4 of their offensive possessions in the 1st half as they took a 28-3 lead into the break.
Liberty had most of their 2nd string in by the 4th quarter, and their last 17 offensive play calls were all rushes as they ran out the clock. Morgan State would punch it in the end zone with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game to give the final score of 38-10. Herb Walker scored the touchdown on a 4 yard run. This was the first rushing touchdown Liberty’s defense has allowed since last season’s Stony Brook game. Afterwards linebacker Nick Sigmon spoke on the defense’s solid performance, “no matter who’s out there we want to finish the ball game, doesn’t matter who’s out there we want to be at our best.”
The Flames now look ahead to a big showdown in Richmond on Saturday against the Richmond Spiders and former Liberty head coach Danny Rocco. The Spiders are coming off a 12-10 loss to Gardner-Webb. Stay tuned all week to LibertyFlamesNation.com as we bring you full Richmond game week coverage.