Liberty defeats Gardner-Webb 21-20, secures bowl eligibility

Flames defense finished with 13 tackles for loss

Liberty Flames football (WSLS 10)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – An early fourth-quarter touchdown allowed Liberty to regain the lead and secure its fourth bowl-eligible season with a 21-20 win over Gardner-Webb, Saturday afternoon, during Homecoming Weekend.

The win, Liberty’s fourth in a row, pushes the Flames’ record to 6-1. The victory also gives the Flames their 17th straight season with six or more victories, extending a streak that began in 2006.

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The Homecoming game was played in front of 20,924 fans, the fourth largest crowd to see a Flames’ football game at Williams Stadium.

The combination of Gardner-Webb’s clock-eating offense and stout defense limited Liberty to a season-low 315 total offensive yards on 61 plays (5.2 yards per play).

Liberty gained most of its yardage through the air, finishing the night with 222 passing yards. The Flames rushed for a season-low 93 yards, but scored two of its three touchdowns via the rushing attack.

Johnathan Bennett finished the night by completing 17-of-30 passing attempts for 222 yards and a touchdown pass.

Dae Dae Hunter led Liberty’s limited rushing attack with nine carries for 76 yards and a touchdown. The Hawaii transfer gained 46 of those yards on the game’s second-to-last play where he pulled up at the one-yard line to allow the game clock to run out.

Demario Douglas was Liberty’s leading receiving as he finished the game with eight receptions for 87 yards.

Liberty’s defense held Gardner-Webb to 325 yards on 78 plays (4.2 yards per play). The Flames defenders, who ranked No. 5 in the country in tackle for a loss, finished the night with a season-high 13 TFLs.

Mike Smith, Jr. and Ahmad Walker led Liberty’s defensive effort with seven stops apiece, with Smith recording 3.0 tackles for a loss.

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