#20 Richmond edges Liberty, 46-39, in double OT thriller
For the second Homecoming game in a row, Liberty faced a nationally ranked team and experienced the same outcome. On Saturday, Liberty lost in double overtime to No. 20/21 Richmond, 46-39, in front of a record crowd at Williams Stadium.
Liberty, who lost to No. 6/4 Coastal Carolina, 55-52, in double overtime in last year’s Homecoming game, drops its second game in a row and evens it record at 3-3 overall. The loss snaps the Flames’ five game home winning streak.
Richmond, who rebounded from a 29-26 last-second loss to No. 7/9 new hampshire two weeks ago, raises its record to 3-2. The Spiders have now won 15-straight games against in-state non-conference FCS opponents.
The game was played in front of a stadium-record 20,838 fans, shattering the previous record of 19,314 set on Oct. 2, 2010, during the reopening of the renovated Williams Stadium.
Both teams managed to cross the 400-yard mark in total offense (Richmond – 498; Liberty – 414). However, the Spiders held a considerable advantage in third-down conversions.
The Spiders, who lead the country in third-down conversions, finished the game 13-of 19 in the statistical category. Liberty was held without a third-down conversion on 10 different tries.
Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss finished the game completing 34-of-47 passing attempts for 323 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also carried the ball five times, including one rushing touchdown.
Liberty quarterback Josh Woodrum finished the night 15-of-25 for 193 yards and three touchdowns. The junior also rushed for a career-high 98 yards and matched his career best with two rushing touchdowns.
Seth Fisher led all rushers on the night, carrying the ball 23 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Liberty’s D.J. Abnar led the Flames’ rushing attack, finishing the night with 11 carries for 105 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season and the third of his career.
Brian Brown was Strauss’ favorite target, finishing the night with nine receptions for 125 yards. Reggie Diggs followed with nine receptions for 82 yards.
Liberty’s Darrin Peterson posted his fourth game in a row with 100-receiving yards, finishing the night with 11 receptions for 136 yards. He also ended the game with a career best three receiving touchdowns.
The Flames had four players finish the night with double-digit tackles, led by Kenny Scott’s career-high 14 tackles. Nick Newman followed with a career-high 12 stops for the Flames.
Richmond’s defensive effort was led by Aaron Roane, who finished the night with eight stops. Reggie Barnette, Justin Grant and Eric Wright followed with six stops.
Richmond was the first team to dent the scoreboard, methodically driving down the field on a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open up a 7-0 lead with 7:19 left to play in the first quarter.
Strauss completed 6-of-7 passing attempts for 40 yards and the drive was kept alive by a Flames’ pass interference penalty that set up the red zone opportunity. The drive was capped off by a two-yard pass play from Rocco to Fisher, the second touchdown of the year for both players.
After quickly stopping the Flames on their first drive of the game, Strauss completed all five of his passing attempts on Richmond’s next drive, including an eight-yard TD strike to Fisher with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
Liberty looked to have stopped the Spiders on a fourth-and-two play, but Liberty was once again whistled for a pass interference call. Richmond capped off the 10-play, 68-yard with a successful two-point conversion to take a 15-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
The Flames were able to jumpstart their offense on the first drive of the second quarter, cutting Richmond’s lead to 15-7 with11:09 left before intermission.
Woodrum completed lengthy pass plays to Peterson and Abnar, before rolling out on a quarterback keeper on a fourth-and-goal play from inside the one for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and 10th of his career.
The visitors were able to tack on one last score before heading into the locker room at halftime. Strauss completed consecutive pass attempts to Brown to open the nine-play, 68-yard drive. Then, the senior sent his team in the intermission with a 22-7 lead when he scored on a one-yard burst up the middle with 2:51 left before halftime.
Woodrum led the Flames on the opening drive of the third quarter, trimming the visitor’s lead back to eight, 22-14, with 11:35left to play in the quarter.
The junior quarterback completed two pass plays to Peterson on the seven-play, 75-yard drive, offset by three rushing attempts. The first was a 21-yard run to the right side of the field, while the third was an eight-yard scamper to the left to find the end zone for the second time.
Following a defensive stop for the Flames on Richmond’s first possession of the second, Woodrum continued to lead his squad and tied the game at 22-22 at the 5:03 mark of the third.
The junior started the six-play, 87-yard drive with a career-long 40-yard rushing play. He then completed his next four passes, including a 16-yard acrobatic catch by Peterson in the corner of the end zone. Woodrum then tied the game on a two-point conversion run, the first rushing two-point play of his Liberty career.
Following a failed 37-yard field goal late in the third quarter, Richmond was able to regain the lead on its first drive of the fourth quarter. Strauss completed all four of his passing attempts on the nine-play, 54-yard drive, including a three-yard pass to the back of the end zone to Stephen Barnett to give the Spiders a 29-22 lead with 11:42 left to play.
Following a blocked field goal by the Flames, Liberty was able to tie the game with just over two minutes left in regulation when Woodrum completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Peterson once again in the corner of the end zone.
The Spiders looked like they were going to escape with a victory when Peter Yoder knocked down a 21-yard field goal with eight seconds left in regulation.
However, Woodrum completed a quick 22-yard pass play to Gabe Henderson on the first play of the Flames’ next possession, setting up a record-breaking field goal by John Lunsford.
Both teams scored on their first overtime possession. Liberty started the first session with Woodrum hit Peterson for a 15-yard scoring strike, while Richmond responded on a 16-yard scamper up the middle by Fisher.
The Spiders had the first possession of the second overtime and capitalized when Fisher scored for the second time in the extended period. His one-yard score on the sixth play of the drive put Richmond up 46-39.
Liberty got nine yards on a Woodrum pass to Peterson on the first play of its next possession. However, the Spiders were able to come up with back-to-back defensive stops to secure the victory.
The first was a tackle for a loss on an Abnar run, while the visitors sealed the win when Woodrum’s pass attempt was tipped and intercepted by Omar Howard to end the game.
The Flames will face their final non-conference opponent of the regular season next week when Liberty travels to Boone, N.C., to face the Mountaineers of Appalachian State. Kickoff from Kidd Brewer Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The contest will mark the 10th in the series between the two programs, but the first since 2002 when Appalachian State won, 27-22, at Williams Stadium on Sept. 21.