Mistakes hurt Buccaneers in 20-13 loss to No. 23 LibertyOctober 24, 2009
Bucs fall to 2-5 on the season
|Antwan Ivey gained a season-best 82 yards against Liberty|
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Mistakes proved costly for the Charleston Southern Buccaneers as they fell, 20-13, to No. 23 Liberty, Saturday afternoon at CSU Stadium. The Bucs (2-5, 0-2 Big South Conference) turned the ball over twice, leading to ten Liberty (5-2, 2-0 BSC) points, and failed to convert on two of their five red zone opportunities.
The game ended when CSU QB A.J. Toscano missed WR Tim Jones on a 3rd and 10 pass from the Liberty 18 that, combined with an extra point, would have tied the game. Toscano finished the day 12-of-28 for 156 yards and one touchdown. He threw two interceptions, both of which led to points for Liberty. Flames QB Tommy Beecher completed 16 of his 20 passes for 93 yards, while back-up QB Mike Brown tossed a 6-yard touchdown strike to Will Quarles that proved to be the difference in the game.
RB Antwan Ivey, who took snaps at quarterback when the Bucs went to the Wildcat formation in the 4th quarter, finished with a season-high 82 rushing yards, while WR Kwame Krakue caught four passes for 47 yards and CSU’s lone touchdown of the day. Defensively, the Bucs were led by DB Chris Kuzdale, who tallied a career-high 13 tackles.
“We certainly answered the question about whether or not we have what it takes,” CSU Head Coach Jay Mills said after the game. “We just made a couple more errors than they made, and they made a couple of plays more than we did.”
The game got off to a rocky start for the Buccaneers, as Toscano was intercepted by DE Daryl Robertson on the team’s first possession. Four plays later, K Matt Bevins connected on a 37-yard field goal to put the Flames up, 3-0.
Later in the 1st quarter, Liberty converted another CSU mistake into points. Buccaneer P Andy Brown sliced a 12-yard punt off the side of his foot, setting up Liberty on the CSU 22-yard line. But the defense held again, forcing the Flames to try another field goal. This time, Bevins was true from 50 yards out, putting the visitors up, 6-0.
Toscano’s second interception set up Liberty’s first touchdown of the game. Early in the 2nd quarter, the CSU signal-caller was picked off by DB KaJuan Lee, who returned the errant pass to the CSU 1-yard line. On the next play, RB Aldreakis Allen plunged into the end zone to give the Flames a 13-0 advantage.
CSU got on the board later in the 2nd period, when Beecher fumbled a snap that was recovered by Buccaneer LB Andrew McKain at the Liberty 17. The Bucs were unable to gain a first down, but K John Paglia booted a 29-yard field goal, his 7th in a row, to make the score 13-3, Flames.
Paglia’s streak was broken on CSU’s next possession. After a nine-play drive stalled on the Liberty 13-yard line, the kicker missed from 30 yards out to keep the score 13-3, where it remained at the half.
After Liberty was forced to punt on their first possession of the 3rd quarter, CSU launched a 10-play, 68-yard drive that featured completions of 17 yards to WR Anthony Chalmers and 18 yards to WR Gerald Stevenson. But the drive stalled on the Liberty 18-yard line, forcing the Bucs to attempt a 35-yard field goal. This time Paglia was true, making the score 13-6.
After more solid defensive work, the Bucs got the ball with 14:45 left in the 4th quarter and broke out the Wildcat offensive formation for the first time in 2009. With Ivey taking snaps, the Bucs mounted a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Toscano finding Krakue in the end zone from 11 yards out. The Paglia extra point tied the game up at 13 with 9:01 to go. Ivey carried the ball six times on the drive, for 34 yards, while WR Deon Lee moved the chains with a 23-yard carry, the longest rush of the game for CSU.
“We’ve been playing around with (the Wildcat) in practice for the last five or six weeks, and we decided this is the week we were going to unveil it,” Mills said about the decision to use the formation. “We wanted to do it in the 2nd half so they could not adjust to it at halftime, and then in the 3rd quarter we had the wind, and we couldn’t pass up using that. So it had to be the 4th quarter.”
But for the second week in a row, the CSU defense was unable to hold the opponent after a game-tying drive. After a Danny Broggin return set the Flames up at their own 47-yard line, the visitors marched 53 yards on nine plays to take the lead. Brown capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown toss to Quarles, putting Liberty up, 20-13, with 3:40 to go.
The Bucs responded with a 14-play, 72-yard drive of their own that nearly tied the game. Five Toscano completions put the home team inside of the Liberty red zone, but the quarterback’s end zone pass on the game’s final play fell incomplete, allowing the Flames to escape with a victory.
The CSU defense held the Flames to just 165 yards of offense, their lowest output of the season to date. “I’m extremely proud of our defense,” Senior DB Matt Bach said after the game. “We came out and fought our butts off.”
“Our defense did a tremendous job against the #1-ranked scoring offense in the Big South,” Mills echoed. “Basically our defense allowed ten points against the best offense in the conference.”
The Buccaneers look for their first conference win of the season next Saturday when they face VMI at 1:30 p.m. The Flames continue their quest for a Big South title and a playoff berth when they host Presbyterian at 3:30 p.m.
Postgame quotes from CSU vs. Liberty
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