Offense shines in Liberty spring football game
The Liberty offense scored on two of the team’s first three drives, Saturday afternoon, pushing them to a 59-24 spring football game win at Williams Stadium.
Liberty Head Football Coach Turner Gill pitted his white-clad offense against their red-clad defensive counterparts for three series before halftime. Following the 15-minute break, the Flames ran 14 scripted plays to wrap up the team portion of the afternoon workout.
Gill and his staff continued to utilize their unique spring game scoring format, which rewarded Liberty’s offensive and defensive units for a variety of situations.
Gill gave the fans gathered for the annual event a unique closing, starting with a drill that had his offensive and defensive linemen field punts. The spirited drill thrilled the fans, as the offensive and defensive units took pride when their big men were successful.
Gill himself showcased his famed abilities to close out the afternoon. The Flames’ sixth year head coach and former Heisman Trophy award finalist competed in passing drills against two lucky fans to end the day’s schedule of events.
Rising redshirt sophomore running back Frankie Hickson was the offensive standout during the afternoon, scoring both of Liberty’s touchdowns during the three live series.
Liberty’s defense came up with a stop on the game’s first drive and Gill called upon 2016 HERO Sports Freshman All-American kicker Alex Probert to try to score the game’s first points. However, the rising sophomore’s 60-yard field goal try was just short and right of the uprights.
Junior college transfer quarterback Mason Cunningham picked up a first down on the following drive, setting up Hickson’s first trip to the end zone. On the fifth play of the drive, Hickson took a handoff from Cunningham and scored from 42 yards out.
Fellow 2016 HERO Sports Freshman All-American Stephen Calvert put the Flames in scoring position on the next drive, hitting rising redshirt junior wide receiver B.J. Farrow in stride on the far side just before he went out of bounds. Two players later, Hickson scored again, this time from five yards out, giving the offense a 41-3 lead at the break.
During halftime, Gill announced four award winners. Linebacker Kendall Couamin was named the Luke 2:52 Award winner, given to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the program’s whole-person development mission.
This year’s Samkon Gado Award winners (most improved player during spring practice) were redshirt junior wide receiver Cephas Reddick (offense), redshirt sophomore safety Rion Davis (defense) and redshirt sophomore defensive end Devin Fisher (special teams).
The final special presentation during halftime was to honor retiring strength & conditioning coach Dave Williams. Williams will finish up his 33rd year with the Flames this spring and was presented with a framed No. 33 jersey to commemorate the occasion.
Following the spring game, the Flames Club sponsored a reception for Williams where fans and former student-athletes were given the opportunity to thank him for his three-plus decades of service.
The second half of the game saw both units have success. Liberty’s defense kept the Flames out of the end zone on three of four drives, which ended on a pair of field goals from Probert (44 and 52 yards).
Sophomore linebacker Jaylyn McKinney recorded his second sack of the afternoon, while fellow sophomore and safety Brandon Tillmon had a pass breakup to force Probert’s two field goal attempts.
Cunningham helped the Flames score the game’s final touchdown when he hit Reddick with a 25-yard scoring pass.
During the live portion of the event, Calvert completed 8-of-10 passing attempts, while Cunningham was successful on 2-of-3 passes.
Hickson carried the ball five times, scoring twice, and Carrington Mosley had a pair of rushing attempts. Farrow, Antonio Gandy-Golden and Reddick each had two receptions to lead the team in receptions.
Liberty will finish off its spring practice schedule with workouts on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons before transitioning into its summer workout program.
The Flames will open their 2017 season at Baylor on Sept. 2 and welcome Morehead State to Williams Stadium for their home opener on Sept. 9.