The Liberty Flames opened up their time as a member of the FBS in style, dominating Old Dominion, 52-10, to move to 1-0 on the season.
RANKING THE TOP PLAYS FROM THE GAME
- On Liberty’s first drive, Buckshot found DJ Stubbs open in the slot. He made a man miss and then outran everyone for a 35 yard touchdown, his first of his career and the first score of the game. Stubbs had enough plays to round out this list, but we won’t do that.
- Kentory Matthews broke free into the secondary and then just blew past the rest of the Monarch defenders on his way to a 57 yard touchdown run. It pushed the Flames ahead 24-10 in the 3rd quarter.
- After Liberty took a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game, Old Dominion was forced into a quick 3 & out after being stopped short of the first down marker on 3rd and 1. After a timeout, the Monarchs lined up to punt from their own 29 yard line. ODU attempted a fake punt that was stopped short. Just a few plays later and the Flames had a two touchdown lead.
- One of his 3 touchdowns, AGG caught a 10 yard touchdown pass from Buckshot to push the Flames ahead 31-10. He went over the top of the defender and then pushed him off of him with one hand. Just simply a man-child.
- With the game virtually out of reach already at 38-10, JUCO transfer running back Peytton Pickett broke through the line and there was no one there to to stand in his way. He went 53 yards to push the Flames’ lead to 45-10.
WHAT IT MEANS
It means ODU doesn’t go home with a $1.32 million check and a win. More importantly it proves Liberty will be no pushover on the FBS level. A win wasn’t overly surprising, but to simply dominate the Monarchs in the 2nd half is what was. With the win, the Flames could push towards bowl eligibility if they continue to play the way they did Saturday night. ESPN’s FPI now ranks Liberty at 102 and predicts the Flames to win 6.8 games. But one game at a time. Good thing is we won’t have to worry about going winless against FBS opponents this year.
Liberty dominated the Monarchs with 591 total offensive yards compared to 301. The Flames were balanced with 238 yards rushing, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. All 4 running backs, averaged over 5 yards per rush. Buckshot completed 25-of-36 passes for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns. With Damian King serving a 1 game suspension, DJ Stubbs got the start and he shined with 155 yards and 1 touchdown on 7 receptions. Antonio Gandy-Golden had just 6 receptions for 53 yards but 3 touchdowns and did that while having to fight through illegal defenses. Defenders were called for pass interference on 4 different occasions while guarding AGG.
Perhaps the story of the game was Liberty’s defense. After holding Old Dominion to 10 points in the first half, the Flames’ defense buckled down and held the Monarchs scoreless in the final 30 minutes of action. ODU finished the game with 129 rushing and 172 passing yards. The Flames’ revamped defense, which was the weakness of the team in 2017, stopped ODU on 3rd down all night. The Monarchs were just 3-of-16 on 3rd down conversions.
Alex Probert missed the game due to a leg injury, and Coach Gill said after the game he will miss about 4 weeks. In his absence, JUCO transfer Aaron Peart showed well. He made his only field goal attempt, from 20 yards, and was perfect on his 7 extra points. On kickoffs, the Flames primarily used the squib kick which proved effective.
This is when this FBS thing starts to get fun. In years past, the Flames would have a big game against an FBS opponent and then face middle to lower FCS teams the rest of the season. Instead, Liberty now heads to West Point to face Army at historic Michie Stadium.
The Black Knights opened the season Friday night with a loss at Duke, 34-14. Army has long been known for its triple-option offense, one that led the nation in rushing last year. However, in the season opener, junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., threw for 197 yards in his first career start. It was the most passing yards for Army since 2015. They led FBS with 362.3 yards rushing per game in 2017, but are replacing four starting offensive lineman and their starting quarterback.
Army has opened as a 9.5 point favorite.
As fellow Independents, the Flames and Black Knights could become regulars on the schedule. So far, there are 3 future meetings scheduled, with Army visiting Lynchburg in 2021 and 2026, and the Flames making the trip to New York again in 2025.
BY THE NUMBERS
6.3 | Liberty averaged 6.3 yards per carry as the running back committee saw great success all evening.
3-of-16 | The Monarchs were held to just 3-of-16 on their 3rd down conversion attempts.
591 | The Flames started the year with a bang with 591 total offensive yards against the Monarchs.
THEY SAID IT
Flames head coach Turner Gill on AGG:
“We like his match up on anybody until they double cover him. That is one thing, but if they go man-to-man, we feel like he can match up on anybody and we are going to take advantage of that situation. We will take AGG against anybody.”
AGG on the atmosphere:
“We were feeding off the crowd. They were getting us hyped up, we were getting them hyped up. It was a great atmosphere.”
Jeremy Peters on the defense’s performance:
“I’ve seen guys working hard all summer. We’ve been waiting for this moment. We definitely wanted to make a statement today. A lot of people doubting us, we weren’t supposed to win this game, but we had to come out and show what we we’re all about. We’re going to keep doing it, week in and week out.”