Liberty beats ODU 45-17 at home

Liberty Flames football (WSLS 10)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A smothering second-half defensive effort and six total touchdowns by Flames’ quarterback Malik Willis led Liberty to a 45-17 win over Old Dominion, Saturday night, at Williams Stadium.

With the win, the Flames extend their school record home win streak to 13 consecutive games, which is the sixth longest active FBS home win streak in the country.

Willis finished the night with six touchdowns, four passing and two rushing. The half-dozen scores were his second highest career total, falling just short of his program record seven touchdowns set against Southern Miss, last year (six passing, one rushing).

Willis was efficient through the air, completing 21-of-28 passing attempts for 242 yards, his highest passing total of the season. He also led the Flames rushing attack with nine carries for 77 yards, including a season-long 56 yard run in the second quarter.

Demario Douglas (seven receptions, 60 yards) and Kevin Shaa (seven receptions, 51 yards) led Liberty in receptions. Shaa and CJ Daniels each had two touchdown receptions tonight.

Liberty’s defense limited Old Dominion to 201 total offensive yards (67 rushing, 134 passing), including just 45 yards in the second half.

The Flames recorded five sacks in a game for the second week in a row and held ODU quarterback D.J. Mack to 15-of-27 passing for 134 yards.

Linebacker Tyren Dupree paced the Flames with six stops, while defensive lineman Kendy Charles had a career game with three of Liberty’s five sacks.

Box Score Highlights:

Final Score: 45-17

Liberty (3-0)

Old Dominion (1-2, 0-0 Conference USA)

Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)

Attendance: 18,471

Turning Point:

After allowing the Monarchs to find the end zone twice during the second quarter and rack up 117 total offense yards, the Flames’ defense ended any threats of a comeback in the third.

Liberty’s defense limited 11 total plays and negative one yard off offense (-12 rushing, 11 passing), which included a pair of three-and-out drives.

Meanwhile, the Flames’ offense added two more touchdowns during the third 15-minute period to seal Liberty’s 13th-straight home victory.

Play-By-Play Breakdown:

First Quarter

· For the third-straight game, Liberty scored the first time it touched the ball, with all three scoring drives ending with a scoring pass Willis. Tonight, the redshirt junior capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive with a sideline pass to CJ Daniels, who avoided a defender and cut back to the middle of the field for a 14-yard scoring play at 11:25.

· Willis showcased his running ability later in the quarter during a six-play, 79-yard scoring drive that put Liberty up 14-0 at 3:17. Willis got the Flames in Monarch territory midway through the drive with a 56-yard rush up the middle and ended the drive on a 17-yard scamper to the right for 17th career rushing touchdown.

· A muffed punt late in the first quarter gave Old Dominion prime field position, but Liberty’s defense kept the Monarchs out of the end zone. Old Dominion was forced to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Nick Rice with 46 seconds left in the quarter, trimming Liberty’s lead to 14-3.

Second Quarter

· Both teams scored twice during the second quarter, sending Liberty into the locker room at halftime with a 28-17 lead.

· Both of the Flames’ scores came on passing plays from Willis. The first was a 33-yard strike to Daniels at 13:23, while the second was an over-the-shoulder grab by Kevin Shaa for a 38-yard score at 3:48.

· ODU found the end zone for the first time of the evening when running back Elijah Davis scored from one yard out at 6:29. Later in the quarter, D.J. Mack Jr., capped a 12-play, 75-yard with a 30-yard scoring pass to Zack Kuntz with 42 seconds before halftime.

Third Quarter

· Both sides of the ball shined for Liberty in the third quarter with the Flames scoring twice more, while holding Old Dominion to negative one yard on 11 total offensive plays.

· Willis recorded his fifth and six touchdowns of the game during the third quarter. The first was an eight-yard passing play to Shaa on Liberty’s opening drive after halftime at 11:10. Willis ran for a one-yard score at the 5:18 mark to record Liberty’s final touchdown of the evening.

Fourth Quarter

· The Flames punctuated the 28-point home win during the fourth quarter when Alex Barbir capped a 14-play, 67-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal with 3:29 left to play in the game.

What’s Next:

The Flames will close out the month of September on the road next Friday night when Liberty returns to the Carrier Dome for the second year in a row to face Syracuse. Last year, Liberty defeated Syracuse, 38-21, at the Dome, accounting for the Flames’ first-ever win over an ACC program.

Date: Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

Location: Syracuse, N.Y. (Carrier Dome)

TV: ACC Network

Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)

Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. (EST)