Game No. 4 - No. 25 Liberty 31, No. 23 Youngstown State 28
2008 - Youngstown, Ohio - Stambaugh Stadium
Rashad Jennings rushed for a career-best 220 yards and three touchdowns, but it was a 24-yard field goal by Matt Bevins as time expired that lifted No. 25 Liberty to a 31-28 victory over No. 23 Youngstown State, on Sept. 27, at Stambaugh Stadium.
With the victory, the Flames remained unbeaten in 2008, moving their record to 4-0 on the season, and extend their winning streak to an FCS-best nine-straight games. The win was Liberty’s ninth over a ranked FCS opponent in program history and the first since Liberty defeated No. 24 Charleston Southern, 34-20, on Nov. 11, 2006.
Liberty won the game’s coin toss and deferred to the Penguins, giving Youngstown State the ball to open the contest. And the home team took quick advantage of the game’s first possession, methodically moving the ball downfield to score with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
Penguins quarterback Brandon Summers completed eight-of-eight passes to account for 62 of the team’s 77 yards on the 13-play drive. The eighth-consecutive comple- tion was a seven-yard slant to Dominique Barnes on the far side of the field, giving Youngstown State an early 7-0 lead.
Following a Brock Smith intercepted pass and the two teams trading three-and-out series, Summers kept his passing streak alive by competing his next four pass attempts to get the Penguins to the Liberty 18-yard line, ending the opening 15 minutes of action.
After resetting the chains at the south end of the stadium, Summers showed that he can do damage on the ground as well. The junior faked a pass attempt, freezing the defense and allowing the speedy hurler to burst up the middle and score on an 18-yard run, six seconds into the period, extending the home team’s advantage to 14-0.
Liberty overcame its opening-quarter jit- ters, responding with a 70-yard scoring drive to pull back within seven points. The Flames kept to the ground for seven of the 10 plays in the drive, including the final play of the drive, which ate up 4:21 on the game clock.
Zach Terrell used blocks by Derek Bishop and Rashad Jennings to find a hole on the left side of the line for a three-yard rushing touchdown, giving the senior his 29th career rushing touchdown.
After forcing the Penguins to punt the ball away on the next possession, the Flames continued to pound away at Youngstown State with a ground attack.
Eight of Liberty’s nine plays on the 86-yard drive, which lasted 4:48 on the clock, were of the rushing variety. Three were of note, as Jennings got the Flames into Youngstown State territory, bouncing off two defenders at the line of scrimmage to open up a hole for a 55-yard game, his fifth- longest run since joining the Flames’ roster.
Three plays later, the drive would have stalled in the Penguins’ red zone, but Smith tucked the ball away and the quarterback leaped over two defenders to pick up 10 yards on a third-and-seven play.
Jennings was handed the ball on the following three plays, including a two-yard scoring run to the near side of the field with 2:03 left before the intermission. The senior’s 13th carry of the evening needed an extra effort to find the end zone, knotting the contest at 14-14.
Youngstown State tried to break the deadlock, quickly marching downfield on the ensuing drive and getting the ball down to the Flames’ 16-yard line. But on third-and- six, Summers was flushed from the pocket and his sideline toss was picked off by Chuck Duffey with three seconds left on the game clock, leaving the game tied at half.
Liberty took the ball on its second pos- session of the second half and scored their 21th-unanswered point, thanks to a trick play and some strong rushing by Jennings.
At its own 36-yard line, Terrell took a pitch from Smith and the A-back player tossed his first pass since 2006, hooking up with Dominic Bolden 51 yards downfield. Pri- or to his career-long pass play, the one-time quarterback’s last pass was against Charles- ton Southern on Nov. 11 of that season.
Three plays later, Jennings muscled his way into the end zone from two yards out, capping off an eight-play, 95-yard drive to push Liberty’s lead to 21-14 with 2:21 left to play in the third.
Liberty’s defense quickly forced the Pen- guins to punt the ball away on the ensuring drive. The three-and-out series was keyed by a pass break-up by Chris Rocco and an 11-yard sack by Jamal Giddens.
Bolden, who entered the game ranked No. 9 nationally in average punt return yards (17.5 per return), proved why he is one of the best return men in the nation. The se- nior broke several tackles on the far side of the field, staying in bounds all the way on a 52-yard punt return to the YSU six-yard line.
On the following play, Jennings once again got extra yardage on a rushing play, extending the nose of the football over the goal line for a six-yard rushing touchdown with 28 seconds left in the third quarter, boosting Liberty’s lead to 14 points, 28-14.
However, homestanding Youngstown State didn’t go down quietly, as the Penquins regrouped for a fourth-quarter charge. After Jonathan Crawford fumbled the ball at midfield following a reception, Youngstown State quickly moved downfield and pulled within seven, 28-21, when Summers capped an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a four-yard pass play to Donald Jones with 6:19 left.
Liberty, trying to run out the clock, man- aged to advance the ball to the Youngstown State 34-yard line. However, on a third-and- four play, Smith’s attempted sideline pass was picked off by Mike Barlak with 2:31 left in the ballgame, giving the home team another chance.
Youngstown State continued to ride the strong throwing arm of Summers, as the junior completed six-straight passes to move the Penguins 64 yards downfield in just 52 seconds. The sixth and final pass was an 11-yard strike to Ferlando Williams in the near side of the end zone, tying the game at 28-28 with 1:29 left in regulation.
An out-of-bounds kickoff gave Liberty possession at the 40-yard line, where Smith countered Summers’ quick moving of his squad. Liberty’s senior quarterback complet- ed four-of-seven pass attempts, including an eight-yard slant to Mike Brown that moved the ball into potential field goal range.
Following a five-yard run up the middle by Jennings to give Liberty the ball on the near-side hash mark, head coach Danny Rocco called on the freshman kicker, Bevins, to clinch the victory. With the clock at three seconds, Bevins sent the ball through the uprights for his second career collegiate field goal, lifting Liberty to a momentous victory.