Liberty breaks open tight game, blasts ODU, 52-10, in FBS opener
A near hour-long weather delay could not keep the Flames from picking up their first win at the FBS level, as Liberty downed visiting Old Dominion 52-10, Saturday evening, at a newly renovated Williams Stadium.
Just as the gates opened at 4 p.m., the greater Lynchburg area was hit with a driving rainstorm and strong lightning for nearly two hours. The weather broke around 6 p.m. and Liberty officially kicked off its FBS era of football around 7 p.m.
The Flames scored on the first two drives of the game and on six-straight drives late in the contest to open up a four-point game.
After jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead, the Flames did not add points to the scoreboard during a 35-minute period. However, running back Kentory Matthews broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left in the third quarter, the second of six-straight scoring drives for the Flames in the second half.
Liberty finished the game rushing for 238 yards on 38 carries (6.3 yards per carry).
The Flames scored on their first two drives of the game. Quarterback Stephen Calvert found DJ Stubbs on the sidelines and the sophomore scored from 35 yards out at 13:04. Following a muffed punt by Old Dominion, Liberty quickly scored when Calvert hit Antonio Gandy-Golden in the corner of the end zone at 9:13.
Old Dominion looked like it might get on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter when quarterback Steven Williams found Jonathan Dupree on a deep 31-yard pass in the back of the end zone at 6:09. However, replay overturned the touchdown call and the Monarchs had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Nick Rice.
Old Dominion finally found the end zone early in the second quarter. Williams called his own number on a fourth-and-goal play to score from one yard out and pull the Monarchs to within 14-10 with 9:55 left before halftime.
The Monarchs had two more chances to score, but Rice pushed a pair field goals (40 and 38 yards) wide right, including the second as time expired before the break, allowing Liberty to hold the halftime lead.
Liberty finally added points to the scoreboard when Aaron Peart knocked down a 20-yard field goal with 4:58 left to play, his first career field goal at Liberty. The key play of the seven-play, 87-yard drive was a 55-yard reception by Stubbs.
Following a three-and-out series on Old Dominion’s next drive, Kentory Matthews’ speed allowed the redshirt senior to outrun several would-be defenders. His 57-yard touchdown run up the middle pushed the lead to 24-10 with 2:25 left in the quarter.
The Flames put the game out of reach early on in the fourth quarter when Liberty scored on its third drive in a row. Gandy-Golden leapt up to catch a pass to the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 31-10 with 13:42 left to play.
After Liberty came up with a four-down stop on Old Dominion’s next drive, Gandy-Golden wrapped up his fourth career multiple-touchdown game with a 22-yard scoring reception. His third touchdown reception of the game pushed Liberty’s lead to 38-10 with 12:22 remaining in the contest.