BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Liberty Flames defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 30-24 in their 2020 season opener. For the first time in nearly 4 years Liberty had a different starting quarterback after Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert graduated a season ago. Malik Willis was named the starter earlier in the week and Saturday we saw why. The Auburn transfer was efficient and effective. He made 13 completions for 133 yards. Willis also led the Flames in rushing, gaining 168 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns.
Liberty jumped out to an early 17-3 advantage but the Hilltoppers mounted a comeback, tying the game at 17 with under 11 minutes to play in the third quarter via a Tyrell Pigrome touchdown pass. Western Kentucky made another late comeback attempt when Pigrome threw his third touchdown pass, for 36 yards, with 3:04 remaining in the game.
While the Flames defense didn’t record any sacks, it did create havoc in the backfield with 16 tackles for loss. Former Appomattox High School standout, Javon Scruggs, recorded 5 tackles in the game.
It wasn’t a mistake free game for Liberty. The team committed 9 penalties for 94 yards in addition to a missed extra point. But the Flames did gain 27 first downs, the final two sealing the win.
Liberty will now return home to prepare for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Florida International University at Williams Stadium next Saturday.