CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Bryce Perkins threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Virginia beat Liberty 55-27 Saturday.
Perkins hit Terrell Jana for 8 yards and Joe Reed for 7 and scored on a 1-yard run for the Cavaliers (8-3). They survived looking ahead to next Friday’s game against No. 25 Virginia Tech with a chance to win their first Coastal Division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Stephen Calvert threw for two touchdowns for the Flames (6-5), but also provided the game-changing play for Virginia. The Flames led 17-14 until Calvert, trying to throw the ball away, instead found cornerback De’Vante Cross, Calvert’s first interception in 296 attempts.
Cross returned the ball 52 yards to the Flames’ 42, rejuvenating the Cavaliers, and Lamont Atkins scored from the 3 five plays later.
Calvert threw another interception, also to Cross, on another deep ball with Liberty driving late in the fourth quarter.
Mike Hollins and PK Kier also had scoring runs for the Cavaliers. Backup quarterback Brennan Armstrong completed a 44-yard scoring pass to Dontayvion Wick for the Cavaliers’ final score with 1:58 remaining.
Liberty: The Flames are dangerous with the tandem of Calvert and Gandy-Golden and can qualify for a bowl game in their first year eligible next Saturday against visiting New Mexico State (1-9 coming into the day). First-year Flames coach Hugh Freeze has made a huge impact on Calvert, a gun-slinger who looks for the big play and threw 18 interceptions last year. This season, he’s thrown for 25 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Gandy-Golden had six catches for 60 yards, including a one-handed touchdown grab in the third quarter.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ depleted secondary got a lift from sophomore Heskin Smith, who had played sparingly but was thrust back into action two weeks ago because of injuries. Late in the first half, the 5-foot-11 Smith broke up consecutive passes intended for the 6-foot-4 Gandy-Golden from the Virginia 25, forcing a 43-yard field goal try that sailed wide left, preserving Virginia’s 24-14 halftime lead.
The Flames finish the regular season at home against New Mexico State, which they beat 20-13 on the road in October
Virginia faces No. 25 Virginia Tech with a chance to win its first ACC Coastal Division title - and end a 15-year losing skid to the Hokies