Liberty (1-4, 1-0 Big South) gets its first win of the 2012 season, and Turner Gill gets his first win in 15 tries as Liberty comes from behind to beat Gardner-Webb (0-5, 0-1) 42-35.
This game was nothing like anyone expected it to be as both teams posted season high totals in points. Gardner-Webb jumped on top from the get go, as they forced Liberty into a first drive 3 and out, and then on their first play from scrimmage quarterback Lucas Beatty connected with Carlton Heard for a 54 yard touchdown pass. It was a play-action pass in which cornerback Kenny Scott, replacing the injured Kevin Fogg, bit on which left Heard uncovered.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs wouldn’t stop there though as they answered a John Lunsford field goal with 9 play, 90 yard drive to take a 14-3 lead with 1:36 to play in the 1st quarter. Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the 2nd quarter as GWU went into the break with a 21-10 lead. Beatty had 301 yards passing at halftime as GWU picked about the depleted Liberty secondary. Both Fogg and reserve corner Ryan Ayers missed the game with injuries. Fogg is out for the season and Ayers is expected to miss approximately 3-4 weeks.
During the opening coin toss, a GWU captain elected to “kick” as opposed to “defer.” This gave Liberty the option to receive the ball to start both the game and the 2nd half. This did not matter though as GWU recovered the opening kickoff of the 2nd half after the Liberty receivers failed to jump on the pooch kick that landed near the 25 yard line. 3 plays later, Kenny Little punched it in from 1 yard out as GWU took a commanding 28-10 lead.
Liberty flipped a switch at that point as they ended the game on a 32-7 run. The momentum shifter came on a 10 play, 99 yard drive capped by HB pass from Aldreakis Allen to Justin Gunn for a touchdown. After a successful 2 point conversion, it was a 3 point game, as GWU held on to the 28-25 lead.
2 Walt Aikens forced turnovers, an interception and a forced fumble, were the difference in the 4th quarter as Liberty extends its conference home win streak to 16 games dating back to 2006.
Josh Woodrum finished the day an impressive 25/31 for 373 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Aldreakis Allen rushed for 97 yards and 1 touchdown. Pat Kelly and Ryan Ferguson both eclipsed the 100 yard receiving mark as they went for 6 receptions for 123 yards and 5 receptions for 108 yards. Both receivers caught a touchdown pass as well.
Lucas Beatty finished with a career day as he went 27/32 for 383 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Kenny Little rushed for 60 yards and 1 touchdown. Kenny Cooke and Carlton Heard did their best Pat Kelly and Ryan Ferguson impersonations as they both eclipsed 100 yards receiving. Cooke finished with 7 receptions for 146 yards, while Heard finished with 7 receptions for 137 yards and 1 touchdown.
Liberty travels to Clinton, SC next Saturday for a 2:00 kickoff. Presbyterian lost to VMI 17-7 on Saturday in Lexington.
Gardner-Webb will face NAIA Mid American Nazarene.