By Brian Woodson
Assistant Sports Editor
Up next for the Concord football team is Liberty.
Not West Liberty of the West Virginia Conference. Rather it’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., which is a FCS (Division 1-AA) squad with a strong tradition on the gridiron.
Concord (4-3) and Liberty (2-4) have played four times in the past, with the Flames winning all four by a combined score of 132-17. Concord did, however, keep the score to 17-6 in their last meeting in 2005. The other three games were played from 1992-94.
Kickoff is slated today for 3:30 p.m. at Williams Stadium (19,200).
Concord, which has three more games remaining on its WVIAC slate, takes on a squad that is just 2-4, but the Flames have lost to Wake Forest by three points and fell to a trio of ranked FCS squads.
Liberty has won its last two games, scoring 98 points in Big South Conference wins over Gardner-Webb (42-35) and Presbyterian (56-7).
The Flames are coached by former Nebraska quarterback standout Turner Gill, who had a successful stint as a coach in rebuilding the program at Buffalo, but struggled at Kansas and was fired after last season. He is in his first year at Liberty.
Concord, led by second-year head coach Garin Justice, enters having won three of its last four games, including last week’s 28-26 comeback win over winless Seton Hill, led by freshman quarterback Evan Dusold, who replaced classmate Albert Rose and completed 17-of-20 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
Rose and Dusold are both expected to see action against the Flames. The Mountain Lions are scoring 18.9 points a game, while allowing 19.9.
They’ll be joined on offense by Calvinaugh Jones (504 yards, 1 td), who has run for at least 100 yards in three of five games he has played this season. Randall Hawkins (42-394, 1 td) leads the WVIAC in receptions, while Bluefield High School product Ansel Ponder (36-475, 3 td) is fifth in the league with 67.9 yards receiving per game.
PikeView product Ben Nester leads the Mountain Lions in scoring with four rushing touchdowns.
Liberty, which has scored 98 of its 179 points in the last two games, is paced on the defensive side of the ball by Scott Hyland (32 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for loss). The Flames are scoring 29.8 points, while allowing 25.8 a contest.
Concord will counter on the other side of the ball with its strength, which is a defense that is ranked 35th nationally among Division II squads, allowing just 19.86 points per game. The Lions are 32nd in yards per game (317.17).
Only two of the Lions’ seven opponents have scored more than two touchdowns.
That defense is led by another Bluefield product, Jake Lilly, who is second in the WVIAC and 22th nationally with 74 tackles, and is sixth in the league with 10 1/2 stops for loss. Davon Marion has 54 tackles, while Silas Agyemang leads the Lions with 12 tackles for loss. Kevin Elliott is tops in the circuit with four interceptions.
Lilly is currently seventh all-time in tackles at Concord with 207, and needs five to move into fifth place on the list. Another Bluefield product, Keith Ferguson, has 10 tackles for the Lions.
They’ll be tested by Liberty’s talented freshman signal-caller Josh Woodrum, who took over during the season’s third game and has since completed 74.8 percent of his pass attempts for 1,186 yards and seven touchdowns.
Woodrum was recently placed on the Jerry Rice Award Watch List, which goes to the top FCS freshman in the nation.
His favorite target is Joe Kelly (47-517, 2 td), who is seventh nationally in receptions per game, while Aldreakis Allen (561 yards, 5 td) is fourth in the FCS, rushing for 112.2 yards per contest, including 183 and four scores in last week’s win over Presbyterian.
Concord punter Brad Fox is third in the WVIAC, averaging 40.8 yards per kick.
If Concord can win three more games this season, it will be just the third time in school history that the Mountain Lions have won at least seven games in three consecutive years. They accomplished that feat in 1976-78 and 1987-89.
The contest will be telecast on WWNR 620 AM beginning at 3 p.m.
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