LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) -- Josh Woodrum threw for 190 yards and rushed for two touchdowns to lead Liberty over Virginia Military Institute 17-7 Saturday.
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Woodrum had a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line for the first score, then rushed for a 27-yard TD to give Liberty (5-4, 2-1 Big South) a 17-0 lead with 4:12 remaining. Woodrum's favorite target was Darrin Peterson, who had nine receptions for 118 yards, including a 56-yarder.
The Flames forced three interceptions while holding VMI (1-8, 0-4) to 204 yards of offense.
Despite three interceptions, A.J. Augustine connected with Samuel Patterson for a 34-yard touchdown pass to put the Keydets on the board with 1:27 remaining.
It's the eighth win in a row for Liberty over VMI, and the last as conference members. VMI returns to the Southern Conference next season.
From Liberty athletics:
LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty's defense made its presence known again and nearly posted its second-consecutive shutout, guiding the Flames to a 17-7 victory over visiting VMI, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium.
After blanking out Gardner-Webb last week, 24-0, Liberty came within seconds of posting back-to-back shutouts for the first time in program history. However, the visitors got on the scoreboard with an acrobatic touchdown catch from Samuel Patterson with 97 seconds left to prevent the shutout.
With the victory, Liberty ups its record to 5-4 on the year and 2-1 in Big South play. The loss was VMI's seventh in a row and drops the Keydets to 1-8 on the season and 0-4 during their final go-around in the Big South Conference.
The game was played in front of the eighth largest crowd in stadium history. The 18,334 fans in attendance for Military Appreciation Day were treated to a special halftime show that honored all branches of the armed forces.
After trading possessions to open the game, Liberty had the game's first scoring chance midway through the first quarter.
The Flames managed to get to the VMI 22-yard line when a deep pass intended for Gabe Henderson was batted down by Doug Moore on a third-and-eight play. John Lunsford was brought on to attempt a 39-yard field goal, but his kick missed to the left, keeping the game scoreless.
Neither team could muster much of an offensive threat during the remainder of the half, as the teams headed into the locker room without posting points on the scoreboard.
Both teams had chances to score, but both team's defenses recorded interceptions to the halt the scoring attempts. The home team had the final scoring opportunity of the first half, but Lunsford's attempt at a potential school record 56-yard field as time expired fell short of the crossbar.
The two teams combined for 253 yards of total offensive during the first half, with Liberty outgaining the visitors, 155 to 97.
Liberty gained most its yardage on the ground, rushing 19 times for 105 yards, while Josh Woodrum was 4-of-14 with 50 passing yards.
VMI was limited to 39 rushing yards on 16 carries, while A.J. Augustine finished the opening 30 minutes 9-of-16 with 58 passing yards.
The game's third turnover allowed Liberty to break the scoreless tie early in the third quarter. Liberty's defense pressured Augustine on the second play of the second half and Walt Aikens was able to record his third interception of the season off a tipped pass.
Woodrum completed his longest pass of the first three quarters of the game on a third-and-seven, hitting Henderson for 28 yards to get the Flames one yard from the end zone. Three plays later, Woodrum called his own number and was able to scramble for his third rushing touchdown of the year, putting the Flames up 7-0 with 9:45 left to play in the third quarter.
The score remained the same until the opening seconds of the fourth quarter when an eight-play, 75-yard drive stalled at the VMI nine-yard line. Lunsford came back on the field and successfully converted his seventh field goal of the year, a 27-yarder, to push Liberty's lead to 10-0 with 14:56 left to play in the game.
After Augustine was picked off for the third time on the day, Liberty was only able to move the ball 27 yards to the VMI 27-yard line. Lunsford came out for the fourth time on the afternoon, but missed his last attempts (44 yards) wide left.
Following a three-and-out series, Liberty kept the ball on the ground for six out of the next seven plays, including a 27-yard scamper to the far side of the field by Woodrum. The quarterback's longest career run pushed Liberty's lead to 17-0 with 4:12 left to play in the game.
Despite being sacked twice on the game's second-to-last drive, Augustine completed 5-of-7 passing attempts for 65 yards, including a 34-yard pass to Patterson at the 1:27 mark to break up the shutout.
Liberty outgained the visitors, 377 to 204 on the day, using an even balance of 187 rushing yards and 190 passing yards. The Keydets mainly moved the ball on the day through the air, passing for 135 yards and rushing for 69.
Woodrum won the quarterback battle, completing 13-of-26 passing attempts for 190 yards. Augustine was 16-of-30 for 135 yards and had the game's lone touchdown pass.
Desmond Rice led all rushers on the afternoon with 22 carries for 80 yards, while VMI's Derrick Ziglar led the Keydets with 13 carries for 58 yards.
Darrin Peterson posted his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the year, leading all Flames' receivers with nine catches for 118 yards. Augustine's top target on the day was Patterson, who finished the game with six receptions for 78 yards.
Besides posting his third interception of the year and seventh of his career, Aikens led the Flames with eight tackles (seven solo, one assisted). Nick Sigmon followed with six stops and his third career interception.
Ty Garvin was VMI's top stopper on the afternoon, finishing the game with nine tackles, followed by six stops from John Washington and Weston Reber.
The Flames will continue their three-game homestand next weekend when they host the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Williams Stadium.
Presbyterian College will come into the game with 3-5 record and a 1-1 Big South mark. The Blue Hose had their two-game win streak snapped by No. 24/18 Charleston Southern, losing the Buccaneers at home, 27-16, earlier in the day.
VMI will play its final Big South football game in program history before it moves back to the Southern Conference next weekend when they host Gardner-Webb. Kickoff from Foster Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.
From VMI athletics:
LYNCHBURG, Va. - Sam Patterson grabbed his sixth touchdown of the year and the VMI Keydets ' defense had one of its best outings of the season, but the Liberty Flames saw quarterback Josh Woodrum run for two touchdowns to help them to a 17-7 win over VMI Saturday at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg.
After a scoreless first half, VMI quarterback A.J. Augustine was intercepted on the second half's second play from scrimmage. Liberty then went 45 yards on nine plays, capped by Woodrum's one-yard keeper, to go up 7-0. The LU quarterback added a second rushing touchdown in the fourth to put his team up 17-0, and Patterson's 34-yard touchdown on VMI's final possession wrapped up the scoring.
In defeat, the Keydets (1-8, 0-4 Big South) allowed 377 total offensive yards, the lowest such number of the season, and took the game to halftime scoreless, but Liberty's (5-4, 2-1 BSC) defense responded with three total interceptions and Woodrum's two second-half rushing touchdowns to grind out the victory. The contest was a grind-it-out type game, between Augustine's three picks and Liberty kicker John Lunsford going just 1 for 4 on field goal tries.
After a trade of punts early, the game's first scoring chance came with 6:41 showing in the opening quarter. Lunsford missed wide left on a field goal try, however, spoiling a brief eight-play drive. The Keydets then got the ball into Liberty territory On t he final play of the first period, and in fact, got it as far as the Liberty 39 before a sack pushed the Keydets all the way back to their own 41. That forced a punt moments later.
After a punt its next time down the field, VMI then moved the ball to the Liberty 35, but Augustine was again sacked, this time on third down to push the Keydets out of field goal range. VMI did get an interception from John Washington on their next defensive series, the first pick of his career, but, going for the endzone on third and 1, was picked off to end the ensuing VMI drive.
That was the last major threat of the opening half, as the contest went to intermission scoreless. Augustine's interception early in the second half then set the stage for the game's first score, and only threat until Liberty's last drive of the period. The home team moved the ball to the VMI nine, helped by a 56-yard deep pass from Woodrum to Peterson, and Lunsford hit a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-0 after one fourth quarter play.
The Keydets got the ball right back, but a hurried Augustine was picked off on a third and five throw inside Liberty territory. After another missed field goal, the third of the day, Liberty then got the ball back with 6:57 to play and VMI still holding on to a 10-point deficit. The home team, however, went 58 yards in seven plays, capped by Woodrum's 27-yard touchdown run, and led 17-0 with 4:12 to go in the contest. The Keydets got the late touchdown throw to Patterson, but could get no closer in the 17-7 loss.
With his sixth touchdown grab of the year, Patterson has the most touchdown receptions by a Keydet since Tim Maypray caught seven such TD's in the 2007 season. The sophomore led the way for the VMI offense with 78 yards on six catches. Derrick Ziglar's streak of career-high performances ended at two straight games, as he posted 58 yards on 13 carries, while Augustine finished 16 of 30 for 135 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Ty Garvin had nine tackles to lead the Keydet defense.
Woodrum was 13 of 26 for 190 yards and one interception for Liberty, while Desmond Rice ran for 80 yards on 22 carries. Peterson posted 118 yards receiving on nine catches.
VMI football will return to action next Saturday, Nov. 9, taking on the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs at Foster Stadium. Game time is set for 1 p.m., which is a change from the traditional home game start time of 1:30 p.m.