No. 22 Liberty finally cracked St. Francis’ stingy defense in the fourth quarter, but an attempted rally came up short as the Flames dropped a 13-7 decision, Saturday night at Williams Stadium.
St. Francis entered the game having allowed 4.3 points per game and just one touchdown during its first three games of the season and proved stingy once again.
After averaging 536.0 total offensive yards and 49.3 points per game during their first three games of the season, Liberty has been held to 17 total points and 674 total offensive yards its last two games.
The Flames did outgain the Red Flash on the night. Liberty finished the night with 338 total offensive yards on 73 plays (4.6 yards per play), while St. Francis was limited to 275 yards on 71 plays (3.9 yards per play).
Stephen Calvert finished the night, completing 21-of-42 passing attempts for 219 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Kentory Matthews led the Flames limited ground attempt with five carries for 50 yards, while Damian King led Liberty with seven receptions for 61 yards.
Bear Fenimore completed 23-of-35 pass attempts for 183 yards and was responsible for both of St. Francis’ touchdowns. Kamron Lewis led all receivers with 10 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Jymere Jordan-Toney led all rushers with 22 carries for 105 yards.
The Flames best defensive effort of the season was led by Chris Turner, who collected a career-high 10 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for a loss, 1.0 sacks and a pass breakup. Juwan Wells followed with nine tackles, including 2.0 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks.
Da’Jon Lee led all defenders in the game as the Red Flash’s outside linebacker collected 12 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble.
The first two drives of the game set the tone for the first half. Both teams traded two of the eight three-and-out series during the first 30 minutes of play, which saw a combined 10 first downs and 225 total offensive yards.
A field position battle ended late in the second quarter with the game’s first touchdown. After a punt from the end zone and a 13-yard return by Lewis, the Red Flash started its eighth drive of the game at the Liberty 19-yard line.
Fenimore completed all three of his pass attempts on a four-play drive. The third was a nine-yard strike to a wide-open Mederick Flavius near the back of the end zone with 18 seconds left before halftime. Tolen Avery blocked the ensuing extra point attempt and Jeremy Peters nearly returned it for a defensive two-point conversion, keeping the score 6-0 in St. Francis’ favor at the intermission.
The Red Flash extended its lead to 13-0 at the 4:39 mark of the third quarter, once again taking advantage of some timely completions by Fenimore. St. Francis’ graduate transfer quarterback completed a 19-yard sideline Terrell Johnson on a third-and-two play, to keep a five-play, 58-yard drive alive.
Two plays later, Lewis caught a 23-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone, beating double coverage to push St. Francis’ lead to 13-0.
Liberty pieced together its most effective drive of the game late in the fourth quarter, trimming its deficit to six points. All seven plays of a 77-yard scoring drive came from the arm of Calvert, who finished the drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cephas Reddick with 2:35 left to play.
The Flames got the ball back one last time after a fourth-down stop with 44 seconds in the game. Calvert completed a 12-yard strike over the middle of the field to Reddick, but was sacked on the following play by Lee, losing the ball and sealing the visitor’s victory.
Following their annual bye week, the Flames will begin their final go around in the Big South Conference. Liberty hosts Kennesaw State at Williams Stadium on Oct. 14. Kickoff for Liberty ‘s Homecoming Weekend game against the Owls is slated for 6 p.m.