The Liberty Flames fell to Virginia Tech 23-22 at home in an in-state rivalry matchup.
The word “rivalry” was “sidelined” for the day. Respectably, both teams suited up in orange and blue uniforms to support the UVA family and community for the three football players that were senselessly killed recently.
Liberty’s offense got off to a slow start after the first two drives resulted in punts. However, the offense picked up its tempo with a 27-yard, game-changing completion to Noah Frith. Frith finished the game with a team-high 4 receptions and 74 yards. Wide receiver Demario Douglas contributed 9 receptions for 69 yards.
The Hokies were the first to get on the board, and the Flames responded with a rushing touchdown (quarterback keeper) by Jonathan Bennett. Although the score was tied 7-7, Virginia Tech had more time of possession (09:47) compared to Liberty’s time of possession (05:13).
Going further into the game, the Hokies scored another touchdown after a 12-play, 67-yard drive. The Flames received the ball again, and it resulted in another punt. But here comes the momentum from Liberty….a 97-yard kick return touchdown for Shedro Louis. This was the first return touchdown for Liberty since 2019. Liberty then cut the deficit to 17-13.
Two penalties leveraged the Flames to have an automatic first down, with the help of a 15-yard on the Hokies for “illegal touch.” Kaidon Salter returned to the lineup, but the Flames decided to stop the clock and kick a 47-yard field goal to tie the game.
Quarterback Johnathan Bennett was limited to 5-8 passes completed for the day, as the Virginia Tech defense became prominent. Liberty led the game in the third quarter after getting a safety. Then, the Liberty defense (Aakil Washington, Mike Smith, Jr., Chris Megginson, Javon Scruggs) all tallied 11 tackles.
Demario Douglas added a 37-yard return to give the Flames great field position for their next drive. In the third quarter (7:27 left), Liberty began to open up offensively; as they had 281 passing yards compared to Virginia Tech’s 250 yards. Liberty was able to gain enough yardage for Alvin Alves to kick a successful field goal. Alves was definitely clutch for the entire game! In a postgame interview, Liberty’s head coach Hugh Freeze said that he was very proud of him (Alves).
Freeze added that the team was “missing” Dae Dae Hunter, explaining how special he was to the team’s offensive chemistry. A late fourth-quarter fumble cost Liberty a chance to score once more. Although Liberty led Virginia Tech in total yards (305 to 264), it was not enough to solidify another win.
“We’ve had a great year, but we need to bounce back to end the regular season,” said Freeze. However, this loss makes Liberty 1-1 against the Hokies.
These were the following points that Coach Freeze and a few players added in the post-game media interviews: more consistency at the quarterback position and as well as better protection from the offensive line.
Demario Douglas gave his opinion about the problems surrounding the quarterback situation, and he proudly said, “I’m fine with either quarterback, we just have to execute.”
The Flames will close out the regular season this upcoming Saturday at home against New Mexico State. Kickoff will begin at noon.
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