UVA Football: ‘Hoos outlast game Liberty squad, win 45-24
But, OK, that felt tighter than you’d have considered acceptable going in.
Liberty (4-5) scored first, then after the Cavaliers (7-3) scored touchdowns on their first three drives, the Flames drew closer on Alex Probert field goal, then a Frankie Hickson touchdown run after Bryce Perkins threw an interception that made it 21-17 with 2:07 to go in the first half.
A Brian Delaney field goal sent Virginia into the break up 24-17, but Liberty had gained 240 yards total offense in the opening 30 minutes, gashing the ‘Hoos for 139 yards on the ground.
Joe Reed returned the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards for a touchdown to push the margin to 31-17, but Liberty sliced and diced its way back into it almost immediately, on a Peyttton Pickett 18-yard run that made it 31-24 with 12:18 left in the third.
The Liberty defense forced a Virginia punt, but Lester Coleman pinned the Flames at their own 5. The Cavaliers D forced an apparent three-and-out, but Liberty coach Turner Gill decided to go for it at his own 14.
A pass from Stephen Calvert to Biletnikoff Award candidate Antonio Gandy-Golden was broken up by Brenton Nelson to turn the ball over on downs.
Virginia would punch it in from there, on a 9-yard TD run by Perkins that made it 38-24 with 7:21 to go, and it would not get any closer from that point on.
Perkins connected with Reed on a 6-yard TD pass with 12:30 left to close out the scoring.
Liberty would finish with 354 yards total offense, 123 yards off its season average, and most of the damage was done on the ground.
Pickett ran for 117 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and Hickson gained 93 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns on the ground.
Calvert struggled, going 15-for-27 passing for 149 yards, with three passes intercepted.
Gandy-Golden was limited to two catches on seven targets for 38 yards.
The Liberty defense did itself well, a week after giving up 777 yards in a 62-59 triple-OT loss to UMass, limiting Virginia to 389 total yards.
Jordan Ellis had 106 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
Perkins ran for 89 yards and two touchdowns, and was 14-for-22 passing with 168 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Zaccheaus had seven catches on 11 targets for 86 yards.