The Liberty Flames dropped their last regular season game against New Mexico State: 49-14.
So what happened?
New Mexico took the momentum after a 7-7 tie with 42 unanswered points. The stands weren’t as full due to students being home for Thanksgiving break, and everything seemed slow. Coach Freeze and players that have been interviewed in post-game media interviews always credited the students’ and other fans’ support throughout the season. They were definitely missed on Saturday.
Liberty was limited to 79 total offensive yards for the first quarter. Quarterback Charlie Brewer got the start, as he finished the game 5-for-8 and 34 passing yards and was sacked one time. Coach Freeze, also known as an “offensive mastermind,” let quarterback Kaidon Salter in for 17 snaps. He completed most of his passes (12), and threw for 101 yards. The downside is that he was sacked three times.
But it didn’t stop there. Liberty wanted to remain present in the game and then decided to go with Johnathan Bennett at the quarterback position. Bennett went 8-for-13, tallying 72 passing yards and was sacked only once.
New Mexico State had a “field day” on both defense and offense. Their quarterback Diego Pavia completed 16 of 21 passes, with his longest being a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kordell David. Pavia rushed for three of the “Aggies’” touchdowns, and was able to record 214 passing yards.
On Liberty’s end, Demario Douglas was limited to 78 yards. On defense, Mike Smith, Jr. had a total of nine tackles while three other Flames defensive players contributed five tackles each. What really hurt Liberty is that they had eight penalties for the entire game. EIGHT.
Coach Freeze said, “(This is) very disappointing. Our fans deserve better than what we’ve done to end this season. We haven’t been the same team since Arkansas and that falls directly on me. That’s an awful feeling.”
Freeze admitted that New Mexico State beat them in every facet of the game, and that they had a great game plan. “On offense, we haven’t taken care of the ball. This spring the quarterbacks have to work on taking care of the ball.”
It was a disappointing end to the season, but as Demario Douglas said, “every loss is a lesson.” Liberty has done the unthinkable this season against big named teams, and they have to focus on consistency from here on out. I never gave too much of my opinion on the Flames this season, as I wanted to remain unbiased and transparent. However, I think that once a solidified plan for a quarterback is made, Liberty will start to see changes.
Remember, injuries have also held them back. For instance, running back Dae Dae Hunter had a season-ending injury that heavily affected the Flames’ tempo. These players will be returning and be more experienced.
The pieces are there. It is just a matter of execution.
As far as my internship goes, it was a great experience. Working alongside Liberty’s staff was one of the best opportunities I’ve had in my journalism career. It helped me get back “in sync” with my old routine of keeping up with statistics and other sports news.
I am thankful for “The Mountain.”
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