Liberty ends No. 12 Coastal Carolina's undefeated season in a wild overtime Cure Bowl finish
Liberty ruined the undefeated # 12 season in Coastal Carolina on Saturday night.
The Flames blocked a game-winning field goal attempt by Coastal Carolina's Massimo Biscardi to beat the Chanticleers 37-34 in the Cure Bowl in extra time.
Liberty ends the season 10-1, while Coastal Carolina ends the year 11-1 after missing the college football playoffs and a berth in a New Year's Six Bowl.
Liberty fumbled while trying not to score
Freedom should have won in regulation.
The Flames had the ball 3 minutes after Coastal finished the game with a touchdown at 34:34. Liberty moved the ball quickly across the field and had the first hit at 1:35.
Instead of trying to score a touchdown, Liberty and coach Hugh Freeze opted for a game-winning field goal after time ran out. And instead of taking a knee, Freeze called running games.
The first running game worked. Coastal wanted Liberty to score and Joshua Mack simply went under on the 5th. The next game, Mack inexplicably ran towards the end zone. And thanks to a push from his linemen and the willingness of the Coastal defenders to let him score, he made his way to the end zone.
And he fiddled before he got there.
Coastal got the ball back and ran out of time to force overtime.
Liberty had to cancel the game with Coastal Carolina on December 12th
The two teams were scheduled for the Cure Bowl after Liberty was forced to drop out of a game against the Chanticleers two weeks earlier.
Liberty was scheduled to visit the CCU on December 12, but was unable to play the game on the team due to COVID-19 cases. The Flames' inability to play the game prepped BYU's last-minute trip to Myrtle Beach in what would become one of the best of the 2020 college football season. The CCU defeated the Cougars 22:17 after stopping the previously unbeaten BYU shortly before the goal line after the time ran out.
It looked like the magic of the goal-line would strike again for Coastal Carolina after Mack's fumble and Liberty's field goal of working overtime. But Grayson McCall threw in three consecutive incompleteness with the help of a sketchy non-call of a possible pass disruption penalty to set up the blocked field goal attempt.
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis had four rushed TDs against Coastal Carolina. (AP Photo / Matt Stamey)
Liberty QB Malik Willis scored 4 TDs
Liberty QB Malik Willis was giving coastal attacks all night. The Auburn transfer repeatedly escaped the bag on Saturday night on its way to 137 yards and four roaring touchdowns. Willis and Mack rushed 242 yards together, while Coastal Liberty allowed them to speed more than six yards per carry.
Coastal rushed for 165 yards when McCall had 96 on 15 trages. He was also 21 of 32, passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns and an interception.
The two best non-Power Five teams?
Since BYU is considered a Power Five team for the purposes of the College Football Playoffs, it's fair to ask if Liberty and Coastal Carolina were the top two teams outside of the Power Five conferences in 2020.
Liberty's only loss came against North Carolina State in a 15-14 slog. The Flames defeated Virginia Tech and Syracuse from the ACC and also Western Kentucky, a team that played at the Lending Tree Bowl earlier in the day.
Coastal Carolina defeated Kansas to start the season, defeating Louisiana and Appalachian State in addition to that win over BYU. The Chanticleers had scheduled a rematch with Louisiana on December 19 in the Sun Belt championship game, but that game was not played because an entire positional group at the CCU would not have been able to play due to possible exposure to someone with COVID-19.
And while we had the most entertaining game of the bowl season to date on Saturday night, when Liberty and CCU were able to put their canceled regular season game together, we also have to wonder how much fun it would have been to see each team face a team from a bigger one Conference. After all, the Cure Bowl had never hosted a team with more than eight wins in one season until those two teams came into play on Saturday night with a total of 20 wins.
You both deserve a bigger stage. And a chance to play a few bigger teams too.
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