Flames rally to deliver blow to Chants’ playoff position

ccufoot-De'Angelo Henderson at Liberty (Gasque)Liberty quarterback Josh Woodrum completed a key fourth down pass with 2:32 left in the game and later hit B.J. Farrrow for a 40-yard touchdown to lead the Flames to a 24-21 upset win over #4 Coastal Carolina Thursday night at Williams Stadium before a national ESPNEWS telecast.

The Flames (6-5, 3-3) were down four, 21-17, to the Chanticleers (9-2, 4-2) with 3:59 left in the game after a De’Angelo Henderson touchdown. Woodrum finished the game completing 19-of-30 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

Henderson’s score was set-up by an 83-yard Alex Ross to Chris Jones completion. The 83-yard pass, which is the second-longest pass play in CCU history, got Coastal to the Liberty seven. Three plays later, Henderson bulled his way into the endzone for a one-yard score, his second of the game. Ryan Granger added the extra point for a 21-17 CCU lead.

However, the lead was short lived. The Flames were facing fourth-and-eight with 2:32 left in the game. After a timeout, Woodrum hit Darrin Peterson for 21 yards. Two plays later, Woodrum connected with Farrow for the decisive 40-yard touchdown with 1:27 left in the game.

Coastal had one final attempt, but could not convert on fourth down with 45 seconds left in the game and the Flames ran out the clock for the win.

Ross topped the 300-yard plateau for total offense for the 15th time in his career to tie former Flame Mike Brown for the Big South all-time record. Ross completed 17-of-32 passes for 325 yards and added 14 yards rushing.

His top target was Jones, who hauled in six passes for 168 yards, including the key 83-yard gain to set up Coastal’s score late in the fourth quarter and stand as the second-longest pass play in CCU history. The 168 receiving yards is the third-most in CCU history, trailing Jerome Simpson’s 207 in 2006 and John Israel’s 174 in 2014.

Henderson, who had a 71-yard TD run earlier in the game, finished with 132 all-purpose yards, rushing for 89 and hauling in three passes for 43 yards.

Liberty took the opening kickoff and drove 71 yards in 10 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. The big play during the drive was a 28-yard Josh Woodrum to Canon Smith to the CCU 18. Desmond Rice capped the drive with an eight yard sweep over left end for the score.

Coastal got on the scoreboard on the opening drive of the second quarter. Ross had a 23-yard completion to Jones, a 10-yard run and a 16-yard completion to Jones. Ross and Jones hooked up a third time for a 24-yard touchdown. The Chants’ two-point try failed to keep the score 7-6 in Liberty’s favor.

In the fourth quarter, Jones had an 18-yard punt return to give him 254 punt return yards on the season to become the school’s single-season record holder. The previous mark was 247 punt return yards by Niccolo Mastromatteo in 2010.

The Chants forced a punt on the ensuing drive, which rolled out of bounds on the CCU six. Ross had a five-yard completion, Henderson had an eight-yard run and, after an incompletion, Ross scrambled for a first down. On the next play, Henderson a handoff and Liberty’s defense strung the play to the sideline. However, Jamarion McBride and Sam Ekwonike gave Henderson enough room to break through and out-run the Flames’ defense for a career-long, 71-yard touchdown. It marked his 25th straight game with a touchdown, extending his own NCAA FCS record, and was the fourth-longest scoring rush in school history. Ross then hit Frankie Richardson for the two-point play to give Coastal a 14-7 lead.

The Flames tied the game on their first possession of the third quarter. Woodrum hit Smith for a 20-yard gain and, later, facing third and long, he dumped a pass off to Rice, who gained 15 yards on the play. Liberty would go on to convert the fourth-and-one and three plays later Woodrum connected with Will Johnson for a two-yard score.

Liberty took a three-point lead, 17-14, on the first play of the fourth quarter when John Lunsford made a 28-yard field goal.

Neither team had success moving the ball from that point in the fourth quarter until Ross’ 83-yard pass to Jones to set up the shootout at the end.

Coastal Carolina will learn its postseason fate Sunday when ESPNU telecasts its NCAA FCS selection show from 11 am-Noon.

Photo by Johnny Gasque/CCU Athletics

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