Liberty (8-3) drops its second straight game, falling at home for the first time this season. Virginia Tech (3-8) picks up the win, 23-22.
The Hokies would strike first, taking an early 7-0 lead. The Flames had several opportunities on both sides of the ball to make strong plays to end or extend drives, but would come up short, allowing Tech to find some success. Liberty would find some success, picking up a first down on a 3rd down pass by Johnathan Bennett to Noah Frith. Big gains by Treon Sibley and Shedro Louis would set up a 15-yard Bennett scamper for a touchdown, evening the game.
Virginia Tech would convert two fourth down tries, including a fake field goal, to retake the lead at 14-7 early in the second quarter. The Hokies would extend their lead to 17-7 following a 23 yard field goal. On the next play, Shedro Louis would provide a jolt of energy for Liberty, as he returned the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Liberty would tie it up at 17 thanks to a 47-yard field goal by Nick Brown in the closing seconds of the first half.
The Flames would extend their lead to 22-17 moving late into the third quarter. Virginia Tech would take advantage of a Liberty turnover, driving the field to take the lead, 23-22, midway through the fourth quarter.
CLOSE GAME BITES FLAMES
All season Liberty has played close games. In the first half of the season, the Flames picked up wins by 2 (in four overtimes), 7, 9, 14, 8, and 1 points. In the last two weeks, those close wins have turned into close losses. Liberty lost at UConn by three points a week ago and by just one point to the Hokies today. For the season, Liberty is 4-3 in one score games.
TECH TOOK ADVANTAGE OF LIBERTY MISCUES
Two Liberty turnovers were the difference in the game against the Hokies on Saturday afternoon. The Flames lost two fumbles, one that ended what looked to be a solid drive that was moving towards scoring range to take a fourth quarter lead, and another one that virtually ended the game.
Throw in other plays earlier in the game where Liberty could have made game-breaking plays from missed tackles, dropped passes and interceptions, and missed assignments, and Virginia Tech was able to turn that into a one point win.
QB ROTATION CONTINUES
As has been the case for the duration of the season, Liberty has not been able to find a consistent quarterback to lead the offense. From Charlie Brewer to Johnathan Bennett to Kaidon Salter and back again, the Flames have had a steady rotation behind center as the team looked to replace Malik Willis this year.
Bennett got the start today and was inconsistent to begin the game. Freeze then turned to Salter who showed some promise but also turned the ball over in a critical situation for a second straight week. It was Salter that Freeze relied on in the fourth quarter. With Liberty trailing by one point and three minutes to play, Bennett went back on the field. He was sacked on first and second down, fumbling it on second and Tech recovered in the red zone.
Bennett finished the game completing 8 of 15 passes for 98 yards while rushing 9 times for 20 yards and a touchdown. Salter was 12 of 18 passing for 119 yards while rushing 10 times for 23 yards. Both quarterbacks lost a fumble in the game.
Liberty will wrap up its regular season next Saturday against New Mexico State. The Aggies are 4-5 on the season entering their game tonight at Missouri at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The Flames and NMSU are scheduled for a noon kickoff from Williams Stadium on ESPN+.