Flames beat Western Carolina

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The 22nd-ranked Liberty Flames rolled up a season-high 633 yards of total offense on the way to a 58-14 victory over Western Carolina on Saturday at Williams Stadium.

The Flames are off to their best start in program history at 8-0. Liberty extended its overall winning streak to 10 games, the Flames’ longest since a program-record 11-game winning streak spanning Oct. 20, 2007 through Oct. 11, 2008. The Flames’ home winning streak also stands at 10 games, one shy of the program record. The Catamounts, playing their first game in 357 days, open their season at 0-1.

Liberty is now 4-3 all-time against Western Carolina, having won the last three meetings in a row. Prior to today, the last meeting was a 19-16 Flames win at WCU on Sept. 13, 2008. 

Liberty’s Malik Willis passed for 306 yards on 14-of-19 attempts with three touchdowns passes, while adding a team-high 97 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns. Joshua Mack and Peytton Pickett added one rushing touchdown apiece. Kevin Shaa caught two passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, while CJ Daniels (two catches, 96 yards) had a pair of touchdown catches.  

On defense, Liberty’s Durell Johnson and Carl Poole had one interception apiece, while Poole posted a fumble recovery and forced fumble.

Liberty outgained WCU 633-282 for the game, while the Flames totaled a season-high 379 yards passing and 254 yards rushing. Liberty scored on big plays, with six out of the Flames’ touchdowns were scored from 34 or more yards out. The Flames’ 633 total yards are the fifth most in a single game in program history and were their most in a home game since rolling up 681 yards against Monmouth on Oct. 22, 2016. Liberty scored 13 points off of WCU’s three turnovers, while the Catamounts scored seven points off of the Flames’ two turnovers. 

Box Score Highlights: 

Final Score: 58-14 Liberty

Liberty (8-0)

Western Carolina (0-1)

Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)

Attendance: 1,000

Turning Point: 

After WCU narrowed the gap to 14-7 early in the second quarter, Liberty scored two more times before the half, leading 28-7 after 30 minutes. All told, Liberty outscored the Catamounts 44-7 over the final 42:09 of game time.  

Play-By-Play Breakdown:

First Quarter

  • After Western Carolina missed a 51-yard field goal on its first drive, Liberty promptly went on a 12-play, 66 yard drive in 5:10, capped by a one-yard Joshua Mack touchdown run.
  • Following WCU’s opening drive which netted 41 yards, Liberty outgained the Catamounts 123-(-3) over the remainder of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

  • Willis found Johnny Huntley over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the second quarter, doubling Liberty’s lead to 14-0.
  • WCU quarterback Will Jones led the visitors on a quick seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, needing just 2:04 to narrow the gap to 14-7.
  • A 54-yard strike from Willis to Shaa got Liberty inside the WCU 20. Willis capped off the drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown, making it 21-7 Flames with 9:50 left. Liberty later tacked on its third touchdown of the quarter on a 40-yard Willis-to-Daniels connection with 4:13 remaining in the half.

Third Quarter

  • The Flames needed just 1:13 after halftime to score again, as Willis took it 43 yards untouched into the endzone for a 35-7 advantage.
  • Shaa later caught an 83-yard catch-and-run touchdown, making it 42-7 Flames.
  • WCU forced a fumble near midfield, and the Catamounts capitalized on the opportunity as Mark Wright led an 11-play, 57-yard touchdown drive to end Liberty’s scoring run.

Fourth Quarter

  • Liberty pushed its lead to 48-14 on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Chris Ferguson to CJ Daniels. 
  • The big plays continued on the Flames’ next drive, as Pickett scored from 34 yards out.
  • Barbir capped the game’s scoring with a career-long 54-yard field goal.

What’s Next: 

The Flames return to the road next week for their third game against an ACC opponent. Liberty will play at N.C. State on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium. So far this season, the Flames have beaten both Syracuse (38-21 on Oct. 17) and Virginia Tech (38-35 on Nov. 14) on the road in ACC stadiums.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020

Location: Raleigh, N.C. (Carter-Finley Stadium)

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

TV: ACC Regional Networks

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.