The Liberty Flames lose on Homecoming to Kennesaw State, 42-28.
RANKING THE TOP PLAYS FROM THE GAME
- After Liberty had cut KSU’s 35-7 lead to 35-28, the Owls were facing a 4th & 2 at their own 44 yard line late in the 4th quarter. It was a gutsy call by Brian Bohannon to go for it, but it is one that worked. Just a few plays later and the Owls would put the game out of reach.
- Kennesaw State’s Justin Sumpter made an amazing one handed catch as he fell to the ground with just one second left in the first half to give the Owls a 28-7 lead. This play made #1 on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.
- Darnell Holland broke free and clear for a 63 yard scamper down the left sideline early in the 2nd quarter to give KSU a 14-7 lead, their first lead of the game and one that they wouldn’t relinquish.
- Buckshot Calvert escaped the pocket to create more time as he found BJ Farrow in the back corner of the end zone to give the Flames some hope, at 35-14 late in the 3rd quarter.
- Liberty scored 21 unanswered points capped by a 30 yard strike from Calvert to Antonio Gandy-Golden to bring Liberty within one score with 9 minutes left in the game.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Liberty football program was on such a high just a few short weeks ago. There was so much positive momentum from the FBS announcement, to the President of the United States teasing future games, to the release of the 2018 schedule and several other exciting games over the next decade, to the program’s first ever win over a Power 5 opponent by knocking off Baylor to open the season, followed by a nearly perfect first half performance in game 2 against Morehead State. Ever since then, that momentum has come to a halt.
The Flames opened the game with the ball and quickly and easily marched down the field against the Kennesaw State defense for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. The Owls, however, answered with 35 straight points to seize control of the game before Liberty responded with 21 unanswered points to make the final margin respectable. Prior to Liberty’s late game resurgence, it looked like the team was on the way to the worst Big South lost ever. The Flames lost to Charleston Southern at home last year by 22 points in what is the worst Big South home loss in school history. Liberty lost 33-6 at Coastal Carolina in 2004 in what is the biggest margin of defeat in any Big South game home or away.
On that first offensive drive, Liberty had 56 rushing yards, but only managed 47 rushing yards the rest of the game. Carrington Mosley spearheaded that first drive with 7 carries for 46 yards. The rest of the game Mosley had just 7 carries for 29 yards.
The Flames hit the road for two consecutive weeks, starting with Monmouth next week and then Gardner-Webb the following week. This was the same two game road trip that tripped the team with back to back losses in 2015.
The Monmouth Hawks are 5-1 on the season and are coming off a bye week. Monmouth has wins over Lafayette (31-12), Lehigh (46-27), Hampton (30-23), Bucknell (35-13), and Holy Cross (48-36). Their lone loss came in the 3rd game of the season at Albany, 28-14.
Quarterback Kenji Bahar is coming off a career game of 324 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in Monmouth’s win over Holy Cross. Safety Mike Basile is now the Big South’s all-time leader in career solo tackles after recording 17 against Holy Cross, which also set a Big South single-game record. Basile had a total of 19 tackles, a career-high.
BY THE NUMBERS
498 | The Owls rushed for 498 yards on the evening on 77 carries, good for 6.5 yards per rush.
10/17 | KSU was 10/17 on 3rd downs and 3/4 on 4th downs as Liberty’s defense couldn’t get the Owls off the field.
11/11 | Buckshot struggled in the first half, completing just 6 of 12 pass attempts. He would rebound though, connecting on 11 straight passes before missing Antonio Gandy-Golden on Liberty’s final offensive play of the game.
5 | Kennesaw State had 5 rushers run the ball for 50 yards or more led by Shaquil Terry and Jake McKenzie who each rushed for over 100 yards. Darnell Holland, Chandler Burks, and Sam Outlaw rounded out the group.
THEY SAID IT
Flames head coach Turner Gill on his message to the team after 3 straight losses:
“We’re going to come back and go to work. I want you to focus on us getting better individually, and the staff getting better individually. Then, if we all do that collectively, then we’ll play our best game. I keep talking about playing our best football game, we haven’t done that yet. We need to make sure we get that corrected, hopefully this next ball game will be our best football game, offense, defense, and special teams.”
Buckshot Calvert on the game:
“They hit us in the mouth in the first quarter, the first half. We came back and put up a great fight, but it just so happened we ran out of time.”
Lucas Irons on how the team made a turnaround in the 2nd half:
“We went into halftime, we regrouped, Coach Gill really got us fired up.”