The early lesson from the 2019-20 postseason? Don’t play a team looking for their first ever bowl win.
Buffalo kicked things off in the Bahamas Bowl. Then Kent State followed it up against Utah State. Then on Saturday, Liberty became the latest to experience bowl win No. 1 with a 23-16 victory over Georgia Southern in the Cure Bowl.
The entire experience was not unlike the Flames season: disjointed, a bit bizarre and still not convincing anybody outside of their own fan base of its validity. QB Stephen ‘Buckshot’ Calvert threw for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns but also turned in a few lowlights to go with his gunslinging nature by tossing two interceptions as well. Fellow senior Antonio Gandy-Golden had a quiet first half but the nation’s No. 3 receiver eventually found a rhythm with his signal-caller and finished the game with five catches for 63 yards and what proved to be the game-winning score in the third quarter.
Frankie Hickson chipped in with 120 yards rushing while Joshua Mack managed to find the end zone once on 11 carries.
While Liberty certainly did everything in their power to win the game, that didn’t mean they weren’t helped along by a Georgia Southern team that didn’t come close to playing their best. QB Shai Werts picked a bad time to throw his first interception of the season and the triple option offense failed to even win the time of possession battle, committing a number of bad penalties and generally failing to move the chains much at all until the final few stages. Though they rallied in the second half to make things somewhat interesting with some late field goals, it was not close to being enough as they failed to get over the hump against a team whose eighth win was unquestionably their best on a weak docket.
Not that Hugh Freeze will complain, fully enjoying the ice bath that came along with the clocks hitting zeros. The Flames head coach has played in far bigger bowls before while leading Ole Miss but given his fall from grace in Oxford and the medical issues that saw him coaching from a hospital bed, among other things, this year, he certainly might savor this one a little bit more than most would think. The Cure Bowl might not mean much to the average fan but to Freeze and the young Liberty program, it was a historic postseason game and, just as important, result.