U.Va., Lib­erty set for first foot­ball meet­ing

Flames are in their first sea­son as an FBS in­de­pen­dent

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - COMICS, ETC. - BY RON COUNTS

Vir­ginia’s Bronco Men­den­hall was in his sixth sea­son as the head coach at BYU in 2011 when the pro­gram left the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence and be­gan its ten­ure as one of the few in­de­pen­dent col­lege foot­ball teams in the coun­try. 3 p.m. NBCSW

1140, 2 p.m.

Men­den­hall is well versed in the chal­lenges of coach­ing an in­de­pen­dent, which be­gin with fill­ing the sched­ule.

“It’s re­fresh­ing to not have to travel all across the coun­try to play games that not

many peo­ple are in­ter­ested in later in the year,” he said. “Early in the year as an in­de­pen­dent, there is strong in­ter­est be­cause peo­ple are will­ing to play. Later in the year when con­fer­ence races be­gin, folks don’t line up to play BYU or travel to Provo.”

Lib­erty is in its first sea­son as an FBS in­de­pen­dent. The Flames (4-4) come into Scott Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day af­ter play­ing back-to-back games in New Mex­ico ear­lier in the year and com­ing off a triple-over­time loss last week­end at Mas­sachusetts.

Sat­ur­day’s game at Vir­ginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) will mark the first meet­ing be­tween the pro­grams. They’ve agreed to play five more times, in­clud­ing next sea­son in Scott Sta­dium. The fi­nal game in the se­ries is sched­uled for 2030.

“I like the idea in terms of sched­ul­ing phi­los­o­phy, close and re­gional, and in­trigu­ing,” Men­den­hall said. “So in our own state it cer­tainly makes sense. Where and how it goes from here we’ll cer­tainly see.”

Lib­erty comes to Scott Sta­dium with an of­fense that av­er­ages 477.4 yards a game. In last week­end’s triple-over­time loss to UMass, the Flames put up 59 points and 488 yards of of­fense.

The Flames are led by quar­ter­back Stephen Calvert, who set pro­gram sin­gle-sea­son records last sea­son with 3,363 pass­ing yards and 29 TD passes, which tied the sin­gle-sea­son mark in the Flames’ for­mer con­fer­ence, the Big South.

Calvert’s list of weapons in the pass­ing game be­gins with 6-foot-4, 220-pound ju­nior An­to­nio GandyGolden, who is clos­ing in on a 1,000-yard sea­son and was a re­cent ad­di­tion to the Bilet­nikoff Award watch list. He leads the team with 51 catches for 844 yards and nine touch­downs.

“What stands out is pro­duc­tion,”



Lib­erty quar­ter­back Stephen Calvert has thrown for 2,528 yards and 18 touch­downs this sea­son.

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