Liberty Flames Defeat the Georgia Southern Eagles 23-16 in Their First Ever Bowl Game
The 2019 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl concluded with the Liberty Flames hoisting their championship trophy after defeating the Georgia Southern Eagles 23-16. In a game where many expected both team’s offenses to produce a high scoring affair, it was notably the Flames defense that rose to the occasion, holding the Eagles to 289 total yards.
Given that Liberty had its team built around its offense, it was a welcome sight for the defense to step up and lead them to victory.
This was a huge day for the legacy of the Liberty Flames, as in their first ever bowl game, they left the field winners.
Liberty grinded out the victory behind the game’s MVP, defensive lineman Jessie Lemonier who racked up 8 total tackles and 2 sacks. “We actually love adversity, when the offense gets a turnover, you know we’re happy to get back on the field. It’s more opportunities for us to make plays, you know stop them, you know show how great we can be as a defense, as a whole”, Jessie on the defense’s impact.
When Jessie was asked about winning the MVP of the game, he was speechless at first, then eluding to the fact that he does what he does for his teammates and that it wouldn’t be possible for him to succeed without them.
As for the Eagles their offense struggled mightily. Georgia Southern did themselves no favors amassing 10 penalties of 101 yards. Quarterback Shai Werts was also held in check getting sacked 3 times while accumulating a few viscous hits. He threw for 95 yards on 10-19 passing and an interception. Werts also rushed for 57 yards on 22 attempts, not a stat line you want to see from your quarterback.
Shai Werts on Liberty’s defense, “Like Coach said, they prepared well. They got some extra time to watch some tape and I think they used that time pretty good. They shut us down, we really didn’t put up points how we were supposed to, they was flying to the football and that’s that.”
Werts was also asked about the physicality of the hits he took during the game saying, “I been taking hits all year, wasn’t really nothing to me. That’s why you get in the weight room, I’m good.”
Coach Lunsford spoke about Liberty in his opening statement, congratulating them on the win. He spoke about how they were able to shut them down, noting how hungry they were as well given that it was their first bowl game, “You know just like in 2015 when we went to the Go Daddy Bowl, you know our guys were hungry, had a chip on their shoulder, was going to do anything to win.”
Coach Lunsford on what the Eagles will do to prepare for next season, “We will still be good to great. A lot of people get it twisted, they think it’s about the wins and losses. Good to great is not that, now good to great leads to wins no question, but it’s about doing the little things right. It’s about that small margin of error, you know, knowing that we could’ve been disciplined better than we are, that’s what good to great is. So we’re not changing anything, it’s about what’s important now, it’s about going from good to great. It’s about all the little details that we got to take care of and make sure we stay focused on.”
On the flip side Liberty’s the offense came through in the big moments. After the first two drives stalled out with punts, it was on the third drive that Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert connected with Johnny Huntley for a 57 yard touchdown allowing Liberty to strike first.
Half back Frankie Hickson finished the game with 125 yards on the ground on 22 attempts, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. His rushing attack allowed Liberty’s passing game to open up.
With this game in the books, quarterback Buckshot Calvert, finishes his career with the Flames with over 12,000 passing yards. He and wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden finish as one of the most prolific QB/WR duos is Flames history, something he personally told Gandy-Golden when he first got to Liberty.
With this win Coach Hugh Freeze is now 4-1 in bowl games, and once again, emphasized the fact that he keeps records on what he does right and wrong, what works and what doesn’t and acts accordingly.