We are about one week into the start of a new decade, and we’ve already taken time to look back at the biggest accomplishments from the 2010s. But what about the biggest heartbreaks? Certainly, if you were in attendance or watching any of these games you can remember where you were.
10. Flames’ lose in final seconds to North Carolina A&T in First Four of 2013 NCAA Tournament (March 19, 2013)
At 11-20 entering the Big South Tournament, it was a shock Liberty got hot to win 4 straight games and advance to the program’s 3rd ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Once there, the Flames had a great chance to knock off North Carolina A&T in the First Four to win the first NCAA Tournament game in school history. John Caleb Sanders had a chance to win the game at the final buzzer, but his shot rimmed out as Liberty lost 73-72.
9. Liberty drops Turner Gill’s first ever game, 20-17, at Wake Forest (September 1, 2012)
In Turner Gill’s first game as Liberty’s head coach, the Flames nearly pulled off the program’s first ever win over a Power Five opponent and ACC foe. Liberty had the ball with 3 minutes left, driving to tie or take the lead before the drive stalled near midfield under quarterback Brian Hudson. Redshirt-freshman Josh Woodrum would take over as the Flames’ signal caller later that season.
8. 2-seed Liberty upset by 7-seed High Point in first round of Big South Tournament (March 1, 2011)
In Dale Layer’s second season, it looked like the Flames had nicely recovered from losing Seth Curry and Ritchie McKay. Led by Big South Player of the Year Jesse Sanders, the Flames won 19 regular season games and entered the Big South Tournament as the 2-seed where they hosted 7-seed High Point at the Vines Center. Things didn’t go so well as Liberty lost 66-60.
7. Flames lose to JMU on last second field goal (September 17, 2011)
Liberty faced JMU three straight seasons under Danny Rocco, and each one felt like a huge opportunity for the football program to make a statement. After losing the first two contests in competitive games, Liberty was tied with the Dukes until Cameron Starke nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift JMU to the victory.
6. Liberty loses to Richmond in double overtime in Danny Rocco’s return to Lynchburg (October 4, 2014)
Former Liberty head coach Danny Rocco left the Flames to guide Richmond. Just a few seasons later, his Spiders came to Lynchburg to face Turner Gill’s Flames on Homecoming in 2014. A John Lunsford 60-yard field goal as time expired sent the game to overtime where Richmond would out last LIberty, 46-39, when Josh Woodrum was intercepted on 3rd down during Liberty’s second drive of overtime after Richmond took the lead.
5. ODU scores 14 points in final 4:22 to come from behind and defeat the Flames (October 5, 2013)
The Monarchs were transitioning to the FBS when Liberty strolled into town, and the Flames controlled the game throughout, leading 17-7 late into the 4th quarter. Until a 64-yard punt return for touchdown with 4:22 left ignited the Monarch offense. After Liberty’s ensuing drive stalled after picking up just one first down, ODU took over with 1:20 left on the clock. Behind quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion went 73 yards in 6 plays and 52 seconds to score the winning points and win 21-17.
4. Liberty has disappointing 2015 football season, unable to make it back to FCS Playoffs (Fall 2015)
Liberty finally broke through and made the FCS playoffs in 2014 and with several key returners, many thought 2015 would end similarly. Instead, the Flames limped to a 6-5 season including a 3-3 mark in Big South play. A loss to Monmouth on October 17th was the team’s final nail that sealed its fate. The Flames lost in New Jersey, 20-17 in overtime, when Coach Gill elected to go for it on 4th and 2 at the 17 in the overtime period. Des Rice fumbled, and four plays later Monmouth kicked a 37-yard field goal for the win.
3. Flames lose to Coastal Carolina in double overtime on homecoming (October 19, 2013)
John Lunsford’s 40-yard field goal was blocked in double overtime, as the Flames fell to rival Coastal Carolina on homecoming. It ended up being Liberty’s only Big South loss of the season, and cost the Flames a bid to the FCS playoffs for the first time ever as both Liberty and Coastal ended tied for the conference title with 1 loss. With the head-to-head win, the Chanticleers got the nod. Fortunately, Liberty would exact revenge one season later with a blocked field goal of their own.
2. Liberty is defeated by Stony Brook in de facto Big South Championship game, misses playoffs (November 19, 2011)
The 2011 football season was a heartbreaker for the Flames, as two losses from that year make the list. Liberty went into the season finale at Stony Brook it what was virtually a Big South Championship game with the winner advancing to the FCS Playoffs by clinching the league’s auto-bid. Liberty would lose, 41-31, in what turned out to be Danny Rocco’s final game as head coach as Mike Brown and company’s career concluded without making the playoffs.
1. Carlik Jones’ buzzer-beating 3 sends Radford to NCAA Tournament (March 4, 2018)
In Liberty’s final Big South game, the Flames hoped to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Radford’s Carlik Jones had other plans as his three-pointer at the buzzer vaulted the Highlanders to the championship, 55-52.