ORLANDO, Fla.: Elijah James blocked Massimo Biscardi’s 42-yard field goal attempt in overtime to give No. 23 Liberty a 37-34 victory over No. 9 Coastal Carolina on Saturday night in a wild finish in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.
Liberty (10-1) took the lead on Alex Barbirs 44-yard field goal on the first extra possession.
Coastal Carolina (11-1) got a huge break in regulation when Liberty’s Joshua Mack fumbled inside the 1 with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Safety Alex Spillum recovered the fumble to end the long drive.
Malik Willis ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns for Liberty. The Flames’ only loss came to North Carolina State on a blocked field goal.
Coastal Carolina overcame an early 14-0 deficit, and drove 72 yards to tie it in the fourth quarter. Grayson McCall ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 34-34 after throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Latushko with 3:01 remaining
Coastal Carolina had won 12 straight.
It was the first time any ranked team had played in the six-year-old bowl, which was moved to prime time after being scheduled in the early afternoon. The teams were scheduled to meet Dec. 5, but that game was canceled because of
Willis led touchdown drives of 64 and 66 yards on the Flames first two possessions, running 7 yards for the first touchdown and 6 yards to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Braden Matts interception turned the game in Coastal Carolinas direction early in the second quarter. Biscardis 21-yard field goal got the Chanticleers on the board, and McCall connected with tight end Isaiah Likely on a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-10 with 2:02 left in the half.
Biscardi added a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the half after Barbir kicked a 37-yarder for Liberty.
Javon Scruggs 59-yard interception return set up the Flames at the Costal Carolina 10 early in the second half, and Willis third TD run made it 24-13. Coastal Carolina answered quickly on McCalls 43-yard scoring pass to Latushko.
Coastal Carolina: Missed a chance for a perfect season.
Liberty: Willis set school records for total touchdowns (passing and rushing) with 34, and for rushing yardage by a quarterback.