Game 291: New Mexico @ Liberty

“The game went nothing like what I thought it was going to go,” remarked Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze during the postgame press conference. “I went for it on 4th and 2 on the 40-yard line to start it because I just had my mind made up that this thing is going to be 45-41 shootout type game.”

It wasn’t. This was a slugfest between two schools that can light up the scoreboard. A frustrating fact for the Flames was that they had nearly 500 yards of offense in a 17-10 victory. But, a win is a win and that means everything to a team that is eligible to earn its first bowl game in program history.

For New Mexico, head coach Bob Davie was back on the sidelines after his chest pain health scare. Similarly, coach Hugh Freeze was continuing his adjustment to sideline coaching after returning from surgery to eradicate a life-threatening staff infection. He lead the team out on a golf cart. The enthusiasm from both coaches proved that the best medicine was getting back on the field.

Despite the offensive stalling, the Liberty faithful maintained the same level of energy throughout the game. Every first down was met with wild jubilation, and each touchdown with flames and fireworks. The “Four Quarters of Fury” initiative has inspired fans to keep the passion in Williams Stadium going for 60 minutes of football, and nothing can be more important in a close game like the battle won against New Mexico.

Of course, the gang that gathers behind the opposing bench found ways to help their team as well. Jerry’s Jokers, a large and raucous group of painted villains, sat just a few feet behind the New Mexico bench hurling an incessant cacophony of insults and heckles. Few, if any, expletives were used (this is the stadium of the Lord, after all), but that only heightened the creativity of the intimidation.

In the end, New Mexico just couldn’t get the ball moving. Both defenses made plays that matter – especially a 4th down tackle by Liberty at the one-yard line. The product on the field is producing pyrotechnics in the sky and proving that Liberty belongs in the FBS.

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