Liberty escaped Boone, NC Saturday night with an upset win over Sun Belt member App State. The 55-48 result was the second overtime game in a row for the Flames, as well as the second high scoring affair. Liberty survived a late drive when the Mountaineers missed a 32 yard field goal with time expiring. LU was able to finish the job in the extra frame, as Darrin Peterson caught a touchdown, and Jacob Hagen brought in an interception to end it. Here are our grades for the week:
Liberty’s offense continues to build momentum, and if they can keep up the level of play they are currently displaying, the Flames will be tough to beat the rest of the season. Putting up 55 points against an FBS program (albeit a struggling one) is a nice accomplishment for an offense that has struggled at times in 2014. Josh Woodrum had another great performance, going 24-37 for 356 yards and 3 TD’s. Josh also had a rushing TD again this week. Josh has thrown for 300+ in 4 out of the last 5 games. Most importantly, Woodrum was able to keep pace with the Mountaineer offense that seemed to be scoring at will. Dante Shells had his best career game, catching 8 passes for 164 yards, including (finally) hauling in a 75 yard bomb from Josh Woodrum. D.J. Abnar had an excellent second half, running for 129 yards and 2 TD’s on the game after a slow start. It seems like Stamm’s offense and play calling has found its groove, and it looks like the Flames will need to continue that hot streak, because…
Liberty’s defense was bad again this week. Sure, App State is an FBS program, but this was a poor effort. After being picked apart by short passes for two straight weeks, Liberty’s secondary was exposed over the top early and often in Boone. Lamb had 3 long TD passes over 40 yards. Freshman QB Taylor Lamb passed for 397 yards and 3 TD’s. The Mountaineer offense was also able to move on the ground with ease, as App had two running backs go over the 100 yard mark. Were it not for a missed field goal, the story of this game is the Flames’ defense allowing another game winning drive in the clutch. Thankfully App State’s kicker choked, and Jacob Hagen was able to bring in an errant Taylor Lamb pass to win the game in OT. As has been discussed quite a bit now, Liberty’s defense may not have the talent to play at a high level right now. Especially with the mounting injuries they have sustained. Defensive Coordinator Robert Wimberly seemed to tire of giving up the soft stuff this week, but the Flames couldn’t stop the long ball. Liberty’s defense is going to have to improve if they want to get through the Big South schedule unscathed heading into the final week of the season.
Special Teams: F
This is really getting ridiculous. The game started with a completely botched onside kick attempt. I appreciate the aggressive call by the coaching staff. I really do. However, given what this special teams unit has been over the past couple of seasons, maybe nailing down the basics first is in order? That led to a 1 play TD drive for the Mountaineers, but let’s be honest, there was a pretty good chance they would have driven the field to score after a touchback. Then you had the muffed punt return that turned into a touchdown for the Mountaineers. At this point should the Flames just send all eleven guys after the punter every 4th down? Less chance of a game costing mistake.
Great win for the program. This game meant a ton to Liberty and its athletic department, and the Flames finally delivered in a close game. For that they deserve a ton of credit. Hopefully the Sun Belt Presidents take notice, because this team could obviously compete in that conference. The Flames get a much deserved week off before they go into five must win games in consecutive weeks as Big South play begins.