Quick Start Aids Flames in 62-17 Win over UMass


LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Flames scored on their first two offensive plays and found the end zone three times in the opening 10 minutes en route to a 62-17 win over UMass, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium. 

       With the win, Liberty extends its program-record 15-game home winning streak that dates back to the 2019 season. Entering the day, Liberty’s home win streak ranked as the fourth longest home FBS win streak in the country.

       The win also gives Liberty its 19th season in program history with seven or more wins and third season in a row.

       The Flames finished the game with a season-high 604 total offensive yards, including a season-best 409 passing yards. UMass finished the game with 284 total offensive yards, marking the fifth time Liberty has held an opponent below 300 yards in 2021.

       Malik Willis finished the game with 307 yards on 19-of-27 passing attempts with four touchdowns. The passing yards marked third time in the redshirt junior’s career he has thrown for 300 or more yards in a game.

       With his four touchdown passes against the Minutemen, Willis became the first quarterback in program history with 30 touchdowns in two different seasons. He was responsible for a program record 34 touchdowns in 2020 (20 passing/14 rushing) and has 30 in 2021 (21 passing/nine rushing).

       T.J. Green led the Flames’ ground game, finishing the contest with five carries for 60 yards, including his first multiple touchdown game in a Liberty uniform.

       The game saw 12 different players finish with at least one reception. Noah Frith (69 yards) and Kevin Shaa (68 yards) each had five receptions to lead the group.

       Liberty’s defense had its third multiple turnovers caused game of the year and second in two weeks (one fumble, one interception). The Flames were paced on the defensive stat sheet by linebacker Storey Jackson, who had seven stops (five solo, two assisted).

Box Score Highlights:

Final Score: 62-17

Liberty (7-2)

UMass (1-7)

Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)

Attendance: 16,577

Turning Point:

       It took the Flames two offensive plays in the first 80 seconds of the game to jump out to a 14-0 lead that it would never relinquish.

       The Minutemen tried to move the ball on the game’s opening play, but quarterback Brady Olson’s sideline pass was picked off by cornerback Duron Lowe. On the next play, Liberty’s T.J. Green found a gap on the left side of the line and was able to score from 26 yard out to give Liberty a 7-0 lead at 14:46.

       UMass was able to run three plays on the next drive, but Olson was sacked by Aakil Washington on the third play and Stephen Sings scooped up the loose ball. On the next play, Willis hit a streaking Demario Douglas with a shovel pass and the wide receive scored from six yards out to stake the Flames a 14-0 lead at 13:40.

Play-By-Play Breakdown:

First Quarter

  • The Flames scored on their first two offensive plays of the game to jump out to a 14-0 lead. Following an interception, Green scored from 26 yards out at 14:46 to give Liberty the quick lead. After sack fumble, Willis hit Douglas with a shovel pass to give the Flames a 14-0 lead at 13:40 on a six-yard shovel pass.
  • UMass settled down on its next drive, moving the ball down the field 55 yards on nine plays. The effort stalled at the Flames 20-yard line, forcing the visitors to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Cameron Carson at 11:07 mark to make the score 14-3 Liberty.
  • The Flames added to the scoreboard one more time during the opening quarter when Willis hit DJ Stubbs in stride for a 60-yard touchdown play. The senior’s eighth career touchdown reception gave Liberty a 21-3 lead at 5:42.

Second Quarter

  • The Flames pushed their advantage to 27-3 midway through the second quarter. Liberty capped a seven-play, 99-yard scoring drive with a 29-yard rushing touchdown by Green up the middle at 9:28 on a fourth-and-one play.
  • Liberty scored two more times during the remainder of the quarter, taking a 41-3 lead into the intermission. The first scoring drive saw Willis hit wide receiver Noah Frith for a 49-yard touchdown play at 4:36, while tight end Johnny Huntley caught a four-yard scoring pass with five seconds left before the intermission.

Third Quarter

  • The Minutemen got into the end zone on their first drive of the third quarter, trimming Liberty’s lead to 41-10. UMass finished its most successful effort of the day, an eight-play, 63-yard drive, with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Olson to wide receiver Rico Arnold at 9:36.
  • The Flames quickly answered on the following drive, pushing their lead to 48-10. The eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive ended on four-straight rushing plays, including a nine-yard burst by Shedro Louis at 6:15.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Flames gave some of their reserve players time on the field during the fourth quarter, including a few career first moments. True freshman Kaidon Salter capped his first drive under center with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Brody Brumm, giving Liberty a 55-10 lead with 13:29 left in the contest.
  • Liberty’s other true freshman quarterback Nate Hampton was given playing time on the next drive, which resulted in another career first. Hampton finished the five-play, 92-yard drive with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Khaleb Coleman, accounting for Hampton’s first career touchdown pass at 8:01.
  • UMass closed out the final scoring drive of the game when the Minutemen punched it in from eight yards out on a run by running back Jared Chisari with 63 seconds left.

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