BARBIR UNABLE TO BE FLAMES’ HERO FOR SECOND TIME
The stage was set. Liberty kicker Alex Barbir was preparing to etch his name into the Liberty record books with a second game winning field goal in as many tries against ACC opponents on the road just two weeks a part. His 51-yarder sailed through the uprights with 10+ yards to spare in Blacksburg lifting the Flames to a 38-35 upset win. With just over a minute left in Raleigh Saturday night against NC State, the walk-on kicker trotted onto the field looking to put the Flames ahead 17-15.
Unfortunately, this time wouldn’t be a memorable ending for the Flames and Barbir as No. 21 Liberty lost for the first time in nearly a year when his 39-yard attempt was blocked near the line of scrimmage. The ball was deflected into the end zone, and the Wolfpack were able to run out the remaining clock to seal the win.
Barbir is now 9 of 15 on his field goal attempts for the Flames this season. More surprisingly, he is a perfect 6 for 6 from 30 yards and in and 2 for 2 from 50 yards or further. In the mid-range, where the kick in Raleigh was from, Barbir is 1/7 on field goal attempts between 31 and 49 yards.
DEFENSE WITH THEIR BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON
Liberty’s defense came through when it counted on Saturday night under the lights. The Wolfpack entered the game averaging 33.5 points, 389 yards of offense, and 250 yards through the air. The Flames held them under their average in each of those categories, including a season low with 15 points.
NC State began the game with success on offense, picking up 210 yards of offense in the first half. The Liberty defense was able to stiffen in the red zone, as the Wolfpack failed to score points on two of their first three trips inside the Flames’ 20 yard line.
The Flames’ made halftime adjustments and were able to shut down NC State’s offensive attack in the second half. In the 3rd quarter, the Wolfpack had -18 yards rushing and just 53 yards of offense in the quarter. Liberty finished the game with 1 interception, 3 sacks, and holding NC State to just 4 of 14 on 3rd downs.
LB CARL POOLE MAKES FIRST CAREER START
Former walk-on linebacker Carl Poole made his first career start on Saturday against NC State. Just one week after a career game, where Poole had an interception, forced fumble, and fumble recover against Western Carolina, the redshirt-freshman played most of the first quarter for the Flames’ on defense.
On Saturday against the Wolfpack, Poole finished with 5 tackles and one quarterback hurry as helped the Flames’ stellar defensive performance.
FLAMES UNABLE TO GET RUSHING ATTACK OFF THE GROUND
All season long, Liberty has relied on its rushing attack to lead the Flames offense. Liberty entered Saturday’s game against NC State with the No. 12 rushing attack with 254.5 rushing yards per game. Outside of the game against Southern Miss, Liberty had outrushed every opponent this season with a season low of 180 rushing yards. Against the Wolfpack, the Flames were held to 107 rushing yards and just 2.8 yards per attempt.
The inability to run the ball effectively, kept the Flames off balance all evening. It led to the Flames’ struggling on offense throughout the game, and unable to consistently get any rhythm on the offensive side of the ball.
“We couldn’t run the football,” Freeze said following the game. “When you can’t do that, the defense has a big time advantage. We couldn’t find a way to run it. It made it very, very difficult on us tonight. Give credit to them some, and obviously it is hard to feel like you had a good plan when you feel like you don’t have anything to go to that you can find a way to run to where you can control more of the game.”
*photo courtesy Liberty Athletics