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The Liberty Flames torch the Baylor Bears 48-45 for historical win

The Flames spoil the home opener and the first game of the Matt Rhule-era.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Liberty Flames traveled to Waco, Texas, to lose to the Baylor Bears. The problem is that nobody told the Flames, who pulled out a program-changing win 48-45. Baylor, the overwhelming favorite, struggled to stop Liberty’s offense the entire game. The Flames only punted the ball three times in the game and avoided turnovers. To Baylor’s credit, they avoided turnovers except one costly interception that Liberty returned for a touchdown and a Hail Mary interception to end the game.

The game was very back and forth as the two football teams exchanged shots. The Flames had the largest lead of the game at 10 points at a couple times during the second half. The Bears were unable to force Liberty into a three-and-out situation on offense. Liberty’s sophomore quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert really grew up and rose to the occasion, throwing 447 yards on 44 completions on 60 attempts with three passing touchdowns.

In addition, Calvert had an 8-yard touchdown run on a broken play where he took the snap from the pistol formation and turned to his right with his running back passing by on his left. Amid the confusion, Calvert pulled the ball down and scrambled toward the right pylon and got a few blocks by his receivers to get into the end zone. He’s an athletic pocket-passer with a big arm and is well on his way to being a very special player in Flames’ history.

The defense wasn’t great by giving up 45 points and 532 yards of offense. However, holding the Bears to just 4-12 on third down conversions kept the opposition in check. Liberty’s offense was 15-24 in third down conversions and had a time of possession of 38:16 to Baylor’s 21:44. Liberty looked surprisingly effective along the trenches, a rarity among FCS schools against FBS schools due to the fewer scholarships and the typically less-talented recruits.

Baylor becomes the fifth FBS school to lose to Liberty and the first Power 5 program. The other FBS schools that Liberty has beaten are Eastern Michigan in 1989, Ball State in 2010, Appalachian State in 2014, and Georgia State in 2015. The last two were done under the leadership of current head coach Turner Gill. Baylor is the last FBS school Liberty will play before the Flames move up to FBS in 2018 for their second season of transition.

Liberty’s next game is at home in Lynchburg, Virginia against the 1-0 Morehead State Eagles on September 9th at 6:00 PM. Beating Baylor is amazing but the work doesn’t stop there for Turner Gill’s squad. Liberty can’t make a postseason but they can turn in a great season and losing momentum now would be a real shame with all the progress they showed tonight. Sleep well tonight Flames. Enjoy your win over the Big 12 opponent and your last season in the FCS because you continue to do the unimaginable.