Story and photo courtesy of Liberty Athletics
CLINTON, S.C. – After scoring 32 of the last 39 points against Gardner-Webb to rally for a win at home last week, Liberty’s offense found the same groove for the entire game in a 56-7 Big South road win over Presbyterian College, Saturday at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
Liberty (2-4), which opens Big South play 2-0 for the sixth-straight year, racked up a school record 692 yards of total offense. PC begins Big South play 0-2 and is 2-5 overall.
The Blue Hose managed to get the ball across the 50-yard line on the game’s opening drive, but Bryant Lewellyn stopped the effort with his second sack of the season.
Liberty began its first drive of the contest by airing out the ball. Josh Woodrum found Ryan Ferguson open over the middle of the field for a 46-yard reception on the Flames’ first play from scrimmage.
Liberty then handed the ball off to Sirchauncey Holloway on the next four plays, with the fourth being a three-yard touchdown run to give Liberty a 7-0 edge with 9:52 left in the first quarter.
Liberty’s defense came up with another stand on PC’s next drive, forcing the Blue Hose to punt the ball away following a three-and-out series.
The ground game continued to factor into Liberty’s offensive success, as this time the ball was fed to Aldreakis Allen on consecutive plays.
Following a two-yard carry by the junior, Allen got to the outside and broke several tackles on a 59-yard touchdown run. He stiff-armed the final PC defender at the three-yard line, before crossing the goal line to push the Liberty edge to 14-0 at the 7:31 mark of the first.
Following a second-straight three-and-out series by PC, Liberty changed up its offensive method of attack, but the result was the same with the Flames widening its lead to 21-0.
Woodrum went four-for-four on the drive, quickly moving the Flames down the field with 67 passing yards on the eight-play, 81-yard scoring drive.
Woodrum found Pat Kelly early for two receptions of 14 and 17 yards, before the redshirt quarterback went to tight end Justin Gunn for the final two successful passes.
The first was a 34-yard passing play over the middle of the field, where Gunn was tackled from behind at the PC five-yard line. After a two-yard gain on the ground by Holloway, Woodrum went back to Gunn for his second touchdown catch of the year, a two-yard passing play with 2:06 left to play in the opening quarter.
Both teams had chances to score on their next drive, but both were cut short following turnovers.
Liberty’s giveaway came on a quarterback keeper by back-up signal caller Brian Hudson. Flames’ head coach Turner Gill called a “wildcat” play for Hudson, who was able to gain 20 yards on the play, but stripped of the ball at the 10-yard line by Cedric Byrd.
The Blue Hose had their deepest drive of game, getting to Liberty’s 33-yard line. Electing to go for it on a fourth-and-four play, PC quarterback Kaleb Griffin completed a screen pass to Michael Ruff, but the senior was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Lewellyn and Scott Hyland to force a turnover on downs.
Holloway carried the ball four times on the next six-play drive, picking up gains of 26, 12 and 25 yards to get into the red zone. Fullback Nicky Fualaau was given the ball and he scored from one yard out for a 28-0 Liberty lead with 4:01 left before halftime.
Griffin was able to jumpstart the Blue Hose offense on the next drive, with the redshirt freshman quarterback completing all five of his pass attempts on the six-play, 70-yard drive.
His fifth and final pass was a 32-yard sideline pass to Ruff, getting PC on the scoreboard with 2:05 left in the second quarter, 28-7.
The brief momentum shift lasted two plays, as the Flames answered quickly. Following a 45-yard pass play from Woodrum to Ferguson to open the drive, Allen scored on a 10-yard run, giving Liberty a 35-7 halftime lead just 25 seconds later.
Liberty’s first half dominance on the scoreboard was also matched on the stat sheet, with Liberty outgaining PC, 428 to 169 yards.
The Flames ran the ball 21 times during the opening half for 253 rushing yards, while racking up 175 passing yards.
Allen and Holloway each surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark during the first half. Allen led Liberty with 115 rushing yards on six carries, while Holloway carried the ball a team-high 10 times for 109 yards.
Woodrum, who came into the game completing over 75 percent of his pass attempts, finished the opening half 9-of-10 on passing attempts for 175 yards.
Kelly was his top option with four receptions for 46 yards, while Ferguson lead the team with 91 yards on two catches.
Griffin finished the first half 19-of-23 for 150 yards, while Anderico Bailey leading the Blue Hose with five catches for 28 yards.
The Flames opened the second half right where it left off before halftime, adding points to the scoreboard to extend their lead.
Liberty put the ball on the ground four times on the nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive. The last, a 35-yard burst down the far sideline by Allen, to push the Flames’ advantage to 42-7 with 11:47 left to play in the third quarter.
Liberty managed to score twice more during the remaining 26-plus minutes of the game to record his fifth-largest margin of victory in program history. The Flames also record a 49-point win over Glenville State on Sept. 5, 1997.
The first score was the next time the Flames touched the ball, as Allen capped off his career day with a four-yard scamper with 3:22 left to play. The run completed an 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive by the Flames.
After the two teams traded possessions during most of the fourth quarter, the Flames mounted one more scoring effort.
D.J. Abnar carried the ball eight times on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive, concluding it with a one-yard plunge with 1:52 left to play in the game for his first career rushing touchdown.
Liberty’s 692 yards on the afternoon bested the Flames’ previous school record of 654 total offensive yards against Charleston Southern on Oct. 26, 1996.
Liberty’s defense held its third opponent of the year below 300 total offensive yards. PC finished the game with 257 total offensive yards, 201 of which came via its passing game.
The Flames finished the game 30 yards short of the program team rushing record. Liberty carried the ball 47 times for 429 yards, thanks to three running backs averaging 10 or more yards per carries.
Allen rushed for a career-high 183 yards on 13 carries and a 14.1 yards per carry average. The junior scored four times on the day, besting his previous single-game career high of three rushing touchdowns against Coastal Carolina in 2009.
Holloway followed behind Allen with 12 carries for 128 yards (10.7 avg.) and scored his 24th career rushing touchdown.
Allen and Holloway surpassed the 100-yard mark in the same game for the second time this year. Allen now has seven 100-yard rushing games and Holloway has four during their Liberty careers.
Woodrum finished the afternoon completing 15-of-21 passing attempts for 232 yards and one score. Hudson was 5-of-6 for 31 yards in a back-up role.
Kelly led the Flames in total receptions for the sixth time in 2012, finishing the game with six catches for 79 yards. Ferguson followed up his first career 100-yard game with three receptions for 97 yards to lead the Flames in total receiving yards.
PC’s limited offense was paced by Griffin, who was 28-of-38 for 194 yards and one touchdown pass. His leading receiver was Bailey, who finished the afternoon with nine receptions for 38 yards. Ruff followed with five catches for a team high 60 yards.
The Blue Hose’s ground game, which accounted for only 56 of the team’s 257 yards, was led by Byrd, who carried the ball seven times for 33 yards.
Liberty’s stout defensive effort was paced by defensive backs Walt Aikens and Kenny Scott, who both recorded seven tackles apiece. All seven of Aikens’ stops were solo tackles.
Cedric Byrd and L.J. Perry were PC’s top tacklers, finishing the game with eight stops apiece.
The Flames will play their final non-conference game of the regular season next weekend, when they host Concord on Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.