LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Presbyterian College football team held a 13-7 advantage with 6:58 remaining in the game at Liberty on Saturday evening. The Flames would score 14 unanswered points in the final five minutes, though, to overcome the late deficit and hold off PC, 21-13, at Williams Stadium.
The PC defense held Liberty to a season-low 286 yards of total offense, including just 73 rushing yards. The Flames (5-4, 2-2 Big South) entered the game averaging 400.5 yards of total offense per game and had totaled at least 367 yards in every game this season. As a unit, PC recorded a pair of sacks and seven tackles for loss in yet another strong defensive effort.
PC (1-8, 0-4 Big South) racked up 191 rushing yards in the contest, led by red-shirt freshman quarterback Ben Cheek with 68 yards on 14 carries. Darrell Bridges came off the bench to rush for 64 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. Bridges now owns the PC Division-I era single-season rushing record with 919 rushing yards on the season. Freshman Quahlin Patterson amassed a career-high 53 yards on 15 carries in his first career start for the Blue Hose.
The defensive unit was led by Donelle Williams and Kevin Green, each with eight tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. Obinna Nitasagwe recorded his team-leading fifth sack of the season, as a part of his five total tackles in the game. DaRon Dickey snagged his first interception of the season, while Steve Osondu blocked a field goal.
PC swung the momentum in its favor early, as Steve Osondu blocked a field goal attempt in the first quarter to keep the Flames off the board and give PC the ball around midfield. On the ensuing drive, the Blue Hose took a 3-0 lead on a 24-yard field goal by Brett Norton. PC totaled 39 yards on 11 plays on the drive and took 5:38 off the clock.
Liberty would respond early in the second quarter. After a 23-yard punt return to the PC 39, a pass interference penalty placed the ball at the PC 24. Todd Macon would rush 24 yards for the touchdown on the following play, giving Liberty a 7-3 lead after the PAT.
The Blue Hose wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard to start the second half. PC drove 82 yards on 14 plays on its opening drive of the half, taking 6:56 off the clock in the process. Bridges would cap it off with a nine-yard touchdown run, putting PC back on top 10-7 midway through the third quarter. The drive was PC’s longest in terms of both time and plays this season.
PC would add to its lead two possessions later with another lengthy drive. The Blue Hose took the ball from its own 42-yard line and drove 42 yards on 12 plays while eating up 6:22 of clock.
Cheek looked to have scored a touchdown on a 30-yard run to push the PC margin to 16-7 at the time but a review ruled him out at the Liberty 11. Ultimately, PC was forced to settle for a field goal three plays later and Norton would make his second of the game, this time from 30 yards, to put the Blue Hose in front 13-7 with 6:58 remaining.
Liberty would answer, though, going 82 yards on eight plays on the ensuing drive and reclaiming the lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Macon, putting the Flames up 14-13 with 3:49 to play in the game. The Liberty defense then intercepted an errant throw two plays in to the ensuing PC drive and the offense would put the game out of reach three plays later with a one-yard touchdown run by Rice.
Josh Woodrum totaled 213 passing yards on 16 completions with one interception for the Flames in the game. Todd Mason led the Liberty ground game with 67 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in the victory.
The PC offense recorded its three longest scoring drives of the season in terms of time in the game, while holding the ball for 34:22. The Blue Hose converted 6-of-17 third downs in the game, much to the credit of Cheek, while holding Liberty to a 4-for-13 mark on third down. PC was a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth downs in the contest.
The Blue Hose return to action next Saturday, November 14, at Monmouth at noon in their final road game of the season.