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The Liberty Flames defeat the Georgia Southern Eagles 23-16 in the Cure Bowl

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 21: Stephen Calvert #12 of the Liberty Flames throws a pass during the first quarter of the 2019 Cure Bowl against Georgia Southern Eagles at Exploria Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 21: Stephen Calvert #12 of the Liberty Flames throws a pass during the first quarter of the 2019 Cure Bowl against Georgia Southern Eagles at Exploria Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

Orlando, FL – In a season that saw the offense grab most of the attention with its gaudy numbers, it was the Liberty defense that show up in its biggest game. A stout defensive effort led Liberty to a 23-16 win over Georgia Southern, Saturday afternoon, in the 2019 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.

With the win, the Flames cap off the most memorable year in program history with an 8-5 record. Liberty completed its FBS reclassification process in August, received its first-ever bowl game invitation on Dec. 8 and walked away from Exploria Stadium with a bowl game trophy in hand, this afternoon.

Georgia Southern came into the game ranked No. 8 in the country in rushing offense, averaging 261.5 yards per game. Liberty came into the game ranked No. 100 in the nation in rushing defense, surrendering 192.7 yards per game on the ground.

Liberty’s defensive effort held Georgia Southern to 154 rushing yards, a single rushing touchdown and three field goals in the victory. On the day, the Flames outgained the Eagles in total offense (402 to 249).

Flames defensive end Jessie Lemonier was named the 2019 Cure Bowl MVP, finishing the game with eight tackles, including two sacks. Lemonier ends his two-year career with the Flames ranked third in program history with 20.5 sacks.

Fellow senior Solomon Ajayi led the team on the day with nine stops, while Benjamin Alexander and TreShaun Clark finished with eight stops.

Liberty’s four-year starting quarterback Stephen Calvert finished the day completing 16-of-35 attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He ends his career as the program’s all-time career leader in passing yards (12,025), completions (896) and touchdowns (93).

Antonio Gandy-Golden finished his last game in a Liberty uniform with five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. The 2020 Senior Bowl bound player completes his career as the program’s all-time leader in receptions (240), receiving yards (3,814) and touchdowns (33).

Running back Frankie Hickson posted his ninth career 100-yard game, leading all rushers on the day with 120 yards on 22 carries. The senior finished the year with 1,021 yards, posting his second-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign.