The Liberty Flames (7-2) wasted little time taking care of business against the UMass Minutemen (1-7) on Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium. The Flames would coast to a 62-17 win in front of 16,577 fans. The 62 points was the team’s third time scoring 60 or more points under Hugh Freeze and most points since scoring 63 over UMass in a 2019 win.

Liberty won the toss and the domination would ensue. On the first play from scrimmage, Flames’ cornerback Duron Lowe would jump in front of Brady Olson’s pass for the interception at the 26 yard line. On Liberty’s first offensive play of the game, TJ Green would take the handoff from Malik Willis and jaunt into the end zone to give the Flames the early lead that it would not relinquish.

The ensuing UMass drive would begin at their own seven yard line following a penalty on the kick return. A couple plays later, on third and long, Liberty’s Aakil Washington would force a strip sack that was recovered by Stephen Sings at the six. The Flames would only need one offensive play once again as Willis tossed a shovel pass to Demario Douglas who would take it in for the score to make it 14-0.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a game that you had that few of defensive possessions and two plays and touchdowns,” Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Maybe we can start the next few like that too, it would be nice. It was great to get off to a good start. I thought outside of a few three and outs and dropped passes by our DBs and receivers I thought we played really well today.”

The Minutemen were able to run the ball, seemingly at will, as they rushed for 4.6 yards per carry in the first half. Quarterbacks Brady Olson and Zamar Wise were unable to complete a pass until just under nine minutes left in the first half, as Olson threw an incompletion on his first six pass attempts and Wise did not attempt a pass in the first half.

Liberty would stroll to a 41-3 halftime lead, and Willis and the first team offense would return to the field to begin the second half. After a quick three and out to begin the third quarter, Willis would guide the Flames to another touchdown to push the lead to 48-10.

From there on, the only thing left to watch was to see what the final score would be and to watch the Liberty freshmen quarterbacks. With backup quarterback Johnathan Bennett recovering from a traffic accident last Sunday, true freshmen Nate Hampton and Kaidon Salter made their Liberty and collegiate debuts.

Hampton would trot out onto the field first, and he would make an impact first with his feet. He would pick up 11 yards on the quarterback keeper on 3rd and 1 to move the chains before the drive would stall. On the next series, highly recruited quarterback Salter entered the game. On his first play, Salter danced 13 yards on the quarterback keeper. The very next play, he broke free up the middle for 38 yards. A couple plays later, Salter evaded the pass rush and found Brody Brumm on the sideline for a 39 yard touchdown pass and run.

Hampton would come back in on the next possession, and lead the Flames on the touchdown drive. He would connect with Khaleb Coleman for 63 yards for the score on a beautiful pass.

“There’s nothing like game reps to see both of those get in there,” Freeze said of the two young quarterbacks. “With (Johnathan Bennett) being out, I thought it was a great time to get them both in there. I would have loved to see them play a little more. I thought they both did some good things.”

TJ Green led the team in rushing on the day with 60 yards and 2 touchdowns on five carries. Salter finished second on the team with 3 carries for 47 yards. He also completed 1 of 2 passes for 39 yards and the touchdown. Hampton finished with 4 carries for 30 yards and completed 1 of 4 passes for 63 yards and a score.

Malik Willis completed 19 of 27 passing attempts for 307 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was also sacked one time and finished the game with 37 rushing yards on 8 carries.

The Flames tied a program record with six passing touchdowns in the game, having only done so previously last year against Southern Miss, in 2020 against Saint Francis (PA), and in 1984 against Mars Hill. Liberty also held UMass to 74 passing yards on the day, the fewest passing yards allowed since Army passed for 61 yards on Sept. 8, 2018.

With the win, the Flames extend its program record home winning streak to 15 games. Entering today, Liberty was tied for the fourth longest active home winning streak among FBS programs. Liberty has outscored its opponents 681-267 at home during that span.

Liberty will now head to SEC country for just the second time in school history as the Flames head to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels with all eyes on Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze making his return to Oxford. Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST and will be televised on SEC Network. Ole Miss is currently 6-1 on the season and ranked No. 10 in the country ahead of their game at Auburn Saturday night.