Bryant Football Suffers First Loss Of The Season At Liberty

Bryant University Press Release

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Redshirt junior Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) scored a pair of touchdowns but No. 24 Liberty put up 498 yards of total offense on its way to a 38-21 victory over the 25th-ranked Bryant University football team on Saturday night at Williams Stadium.

In a battle of nationally-ranked teams, the Flames (3-1) raced out to a 24-0 lead in the first half to hand the Bulldogs (3-1) their first loss of the season. The teams played in front of a Hall of Fame Weekend crowd of 16,873.

Bryant opened the game with the ball but Jacob Hagen made an interception at his own 20 to give the Flames the ball. Liberty proceeded to drive to the Bryant 40 and John Lunsford was able to cap it off with a 57-yard field goal.

The Flames’ defense set the tone for the next quarter and a half, forcing the Bulldogs into four-straight three-and-outs on their way to a 24-0 lead. On its next drive, Liberty converted on three third downs, with QB Josh Woodrum’s 10-yard touchdown run on third-and-three capping the drive.

Running back D.J. Abnar put the next 14 points on the board for the Flames. He capped a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a three-yard run and a four-play, 75-yard drive with a 22-yard scamper. That made it 24-0 with 5:19 to go in the first half.

The Bulldogs then put together a late rally to pull within 10 before the half. After Abnar’s second TD run, McCray broke off a 64-yard kick return to put the Black and Gold at the Liberty 34. Junior Jose Depadua (Hagerstown, Md.) followed with an 11-yard run on a sweep, sophomore Keenan Thompson (Broward County, Fla.) hauled in a 10-yard pass and McCray finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception from sophomore Dalton Easton (Miami, Fla.) on third and goal.

Bryant then forced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing possession and used a Liberty mistake to take over with a short field. The Flames’ punter botched the snap, giving Bryant the ball on the six. Two plays later, McCray muscled his way into the endzone from two yards out to make it 24-14.

Liberty quickly responded with an eight-play, 61-yard drive to start the second half. Woodrum completed passes of 16 and 22 to put the ball inside the Bryant 10 and then found fullback Thomas Kennedy on play action to make it 31-14.

The Bulldogs had a chance to cut into the lead again but a turnover cost them. Bryant converted a pair of third down attempts, with Gary Laucks‘s (York, Pa.) sliding catch putting the ball at the Liberty 41. Three plays later, Easton connected with Chad Ward (Delray Beach, Fla.) for five yards on a fourth-and-four to keep the chains moving. The Black and Gold, however, fumbled the ball on the very next play and Liberty turned it into seven points.

The Flames drove 72 yards in just six plays to push their lead back to 24. Woodrum finished the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the game, a 10-yard keeper.

Bryant answered with its final push on the next possession. The Black and Gold methodically moved the ball down field on the back of junior Paul Canevari (Warwick, N.Y.). He rushed the ball seven times on the drive, helping the Bulldogs go 80 yards in eight plays. He opened the drive with a 12-yard run, added six more and then broke off a 53-yarder to put the ball at the Liberty 1. He pounded it into the endzone two plays later to make it 38-21.

Liberty outgained Bryant, 498-249, on the night and held the ball for over 35 minutes. Woodrum finished 24-of-34 for 319 yards and a touchdown. Abnar added 79 yards and two scores.

Easton finished 14-of-27 for 106 yards and a score, while Canevari rushed for 96 yard and just 13 carries. McCray put up 121 all-purpose yards on the night.

Defensively, Michael Johnson (New Market, Md.), Brandon Dagnesses (Miami, Fla.) and Marquise Watson (Hillside, N.J.) all finished with nine tackles. The Bulldogs finished without a sack for the first time this year.

Bryant will enjoy a bye week next weekend before returning to Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 4 to host Bucknell.