Oct 17, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA;  Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) scores on a touchdown run in the first half during a game against Syracuse on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
 Mandatory Credit: Dennis Nett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 12 Coastal Carolina, Liberty get delayed matchup in Cure Bowl

Let’s hope coaches and players for Coastal Carolina and Liberty kept their notes.

The teams were supposed to play earlier this month before coronavirus issues intervened. They’re going to try again, this time in the postseason.

The No. 12 Chanticleers and Flames are slated to meet Saturday in the Cure Bowl at Orlando, a chance to cap what have been memorable seasons for both teams.

“Obviously that game was meant to be,” Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said.

Coastal Carolina (11-0), which will make its first bowl appearance, is one of five undefeated teams in the country.

“We made this move in 2016 for opportunities like this, to go compete in bowl games,” Chadwell said of reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision. “Hopefully that will be something that’s a yearly deal.”

Liberty (9-1) cracked the national rankings before losing at North Carolina State on Nov. 21. Other than the College Football Playoff semifinal between Alabama and Notre Dame, the Cure Bowl matchup has teams with the best combined record.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Chadwell said. “It was a big day (to receive a bowl bid). One we’re thankful for.”

The Dec. 5 scheduled game that would have sent Liberty to Coastal Carolina was scrapped because of Liberty’s positive tests and precaution. That created a much-discussed midweek revision to the schedule for Coastal Carolina, which welcomed then-undefeated BYU for a game on short notice and won with a thrilling finish with a tackle at the 1-yard line to maintain its unbeaten record.

The Chanticleers then produced a last-minute touchdown the next week to win at Troy. But they, too, experienced the fallout from coronavirus protocols, with last weekend’s Sun Belt Conference championship game against Louisiana called off less than 48 hours before the scheduled kickoff because of Coastal Carolina’s testing. Chadwell said players in quarantine could be cleared by midweek prior to the bowl.

Liberty’s lone loss came by a 15-14 score on the road against the Wolfpack, who held on by blocking a field-goal attempt in the last 80 seconds.

Liberty, which is winding down the best season in program history, hasn’t played since defeating Massachusetts 45-0 on Nov. 27. The Flames are trying to match a program record for wins, a mark set with a 10-2 record on the Football Championship Subdivision level in 2008.

“Having another chance to face Coastal Carolina after it was taken away from us at the end of our regular season gives us a chance to finish off a magical season with another special win,” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said.

Liberty captured its first bowl victory last year in the Cure Bowl by defeating Georgia Southern, which like Coastal Carolina is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

This year, the Flames are led by quarterback Malik Willis, who has thrown for 20 touchdowns and rushed for 10. He has 2,040 passing yards and 807 rushing yards.

Chadwell said the exposure from defeating BYU was an ideal fallout from the regular-season game with Liberty being called off. Even so, he is glad to be able to play the Flames.

“We did prepare for them there for about three days,” Chadwell said. “At least we have already some game plans and some things done for them. They’ll be fresh (with the long layoff), no doubt.”

Coastal Carolina and Liberty were Big South Conference members before each moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision. Liberty now plays as an independent. The series is tied 7-7, with the most recent meeting in 2016.

“It makes the bowl game that much more special because of the history we have with Liberty,” Chadwell said.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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