Bucs Unable to Overcome Turnovers in 44-20 Loss at LibertyOctober 9, 2010
By CSU Sports Information
LYNCHBURG, Va. – Charleston Southern put a scare into the homecoming crowd of more than 18,500 at Williams Stadium, but the Bucs turned the ball over five times and it was Liberty who emerged victorious by a score of 44-20. The Bucs fall to 2-3 (0-1) on the season while Liberty improves to 4-2 and has a 1-0 mark in the Big South.
Andrew Trudnowski came into the game in relief of A.J. Toscano who was hit awkwardly on a carry and knocked out of the game. Trudnowski handled the offense well, throwing for a career-high 189 yards on 15-22 passing. Trudnowski found the endzone twice and was picked off once, with Toscano also throwing a pick, completing 7-of-11 pass attempts for 46 yards.
“The change in quarterback didn’t change our came plan, but our season plan was to redshirt Andrew and have him for his senior season last year,” said Coach Jay Mills. “When we got word back on the injury, we had to make a decision of whether to pull the redshirt off, and felt like the percentage move was to pull it off. We haven’t had some of the fiscal or physical resources, but we have had the intangible things such as the quality of people, and this was evidenced by Andrew in that he didn’t even stutter. I said get warmed up and he came out and competed hard. I know there are some plays he would like to have back, but I thought it was an inspiring performance by Andrew.”
Anthony Chalmers and B.J. Hackworth each caught a touchdown pass, with Chalmers leading the team with seven receptions for a career-high 87 yards. DeMarcus Moon had 10 carries on the day for 52 yard.
Defensively, Charles James led the way with a career-high 10 tackles, also picking off three passes as he had the tall task of stopping Liberty’s leading receiver Chris Summers, who had just five receptions for 72 yards on the day, scoring his only touchdown on the final offensive play of the day for Liberty.
“He (Chris Summers) is a great athlete,” said James on the matchup. “I knew coming in that I had to come out and compete against this guy. I actually played against him in high school. He’s a phenomenal player. A big, tall, physical guy. Coach Smith does a great job with the game plan, he puts us in the right position to make plays, and fortunately I was in the right position to make a play.”
The CSU defense played well, holding Liberty to 312 yards of offense through the first three quarters, but the Bucs committed a season-high five turnovers (two interceptions, three lost fumbles) that continued to put pressure on the defense, turning a 16-14 game after three quarters into the high scoring affair. Liberty finished the game with 481 yards of offense, while CSU posted 306, including 235 through the air.
Mike Brown led Liberty through the air and on the ground, passing for 310 yards and rushing for 93 more. Larry Claiborne led the Flames’ defense with seven stops, while Chris Mayo forced two fumbles.
Both teams struggled on offense early, punting on their first possessions of the game. The Flames got an interception on the Bucs’ second drive, but the CSU defense held deep in their own territory, leaving the first quarter scoreless for both teams.
The defense looked to have another big stop, standing up Holloway on a carry up the middle on third and one, but Coach Danny Rocco elected to go for it on fourth down, converting to take a 7-0 lead.
The Flames added six more points on a 40-yard pass from Brown to Pat Kelly to make it 13-0 after Matt Bevins missed the extra point.
The Bucs finally got on the board late in the first half, scoring on a diving catch by Chalmers in the corner of the end zone on a pass from Trudnowski. With 1:40 left in the first half, CSU thought they had burned enough time on the 10-play, 80-yard drive that took 5:15, but Liberty added three more points with 0:15 left in the half to make it 16-7 at the break.
On the first drive of the second half, The Bucs moved the ball 80 yards on 15 plays taking almost eight minutes off the clock to cut the deficit to two at 16-14. The drive was capped off by another incredible catch, this time a 22-yard grab by running back Hackworth, flipping it up with his left hand and corralling it as he fell into the end zone.
Down two points, James gave his offense a chance to take the lead with his second interception of the game. James tied the school record again. It was his fourth interception in the past two games, but would not be his last.
Trudnowski drove his team down to the two, but a fumbled snap on the three turned the ball over with no points.
“Obviously we felt like in the worst case scenario we have the field goal and a one point lead,” said Mills. “There was also a momentum factor, there’s no question about it. At the same point in time, I also felt like we had 98 yards to our backs, we had field position so I still liked our chances.”
A trick play kept the ensuing Liberty drive alive as Tyler Brennan came in as quarterback, throwing the ball across the field to Brown, who turned and threw it back to Brennan for an 18 yard pass.
On the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, James jumped the route again, picking off his fifth pass in two games, and establishing a new school record for interceptions in a game with three. There had been 11 times that a Buccaneer defender had picked off two in a game, but James becomes the first to get the third.
Another fumbled snap gave the ball back to LU on the CSU 33 yardline and it took the Flames just four plays to punch it in and make it 23-14.
The turnover bug bit CSU again as Trudnowski and Deon Lee connected for five yards, but Patrick Bannon ripped the ball away as Lee went to the ground.
The Buc defense was helped on the ensuing Liberty drive as a pair of holding penalties backed the drive up and Bevins hit the right upright, keeping it a nine-point game with 8:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With another chance to cut into the lead, Trudnowski was picked off by Brent Vinson to set up the Flames on the 22 yardline after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bucs.
Holloway found the endzone again from 13 yards out to make it 30-14 with 6:48 left in the game.
The answer came in the form of Gerald Stevenson, who returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, it was his first return for a score of his illustrious career, and the first kick return for a touchdown since Lee returned the game’s opening kick against Stony Brook last season. The return cut the score to 37-20 after the Bucs’ two-point conversion try was no good. Stevenson narrowly missed the 200-yard mark in all-purpose yards, amassing 199 yards, 143 on kick returns and 53 on four receptions.
With Liberty facing a fourth and one on the 29 yardline, the Bucs called a timeout to preserve the final 30 seconds, and Liberty seemingly took exception to the call, throwing the ball to the endzone into the awaiting arms of Summers.
“I can only account for myself, and I can only coach one team and can’t address the other,” said Mills about the play. “I can only explain the circumstances as I saw it. I wanted our guys to compete to the very end, which I am proud that they did. I think the kickoff return for a touchdown was indicative of that. We knew that the game was for all practical purposes decided, but when they did not go victory (formation), I had to keep training my team to play football as well. So our decision basically was, we had to keep competing because they were. We anticipated that they were going to go for it on fourth down, but if I let the clock run out while they are running the football I don’t think it makes the right statement to your team about competing in life, it’s a life lesson to the very end. So I made the decision to call the timeout, thinking they would either go for it and if they got it I would not use my final timeout and time would run out, or we would stop them and we would have something to build upon for the next week.”
The Bucs’ only hope was to recover an onside kick with two minutes remaining, and the try was unsuccessful, effectively ending the game.
Charleston Southern returns home for a contest against Gardner-Webb next weekend. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. from Buccaneer Field, and will be televised on ESPN3.com. Liberty travels to Lexington, Va., to face the Keydets from VMI in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
Postgame Quote Article – Coach Jay Mills and Charles JamesRelated Item: Box Score
Postgame Quotes (Video)
Game Highlights (Video)