Willis, No. 22 Liberty rolls past Western Carolina
Quarterback Malik Willis passed for three touchdowns and ran for a pair as No. 22 Liberty routed Western Carolina 58-14 on Saturday afternoon in Lynchburg, Va.
Willis, who played the first half and two series in the second, finished 14-for-19 for 306 yards. He also rushed for a game-high 97 yards on eight carries.
Kevin Shaa caught two passes for 137 yards and a TD for Liberty (8-0), which outgained Western Carolina 633-282 in total yards.
A 32 1/2-point underdog, the Catamounts (0-1) were playing the first of three games in 2020. The FCS school will resume with an eight-game Southern Conference schedule in late February.
Will Jones (7 of 13, 74 yards) replaced starting quarterback Mark Wright (one rushing TD) in the second quarter and notched a passing TD.
Cruising with the momentum of last week’s 38-35 shocking win at Virginia Tech, the Flames took an early lead and rolled in the first half.
After a missed 51-yard field goal on the visitors’ first series, Liberty’s Joshua Mack put up the first points when he plunged in from a yard out at 6:47 for a 7-0 edge.
Willis found senior tight end Johnny Huntley for 44 yards over the middle on a seam pass at 14:13 of the second to make it 14-0, but Jones rolled left and hit backup tight end Clayton Bardall on a 9-yard TD pass at 12:09 for the Catamounts’ initial score.
Willis tallied on a keeper from 11 yards, then the Atlanta native hooked up with CJ Daniels on a 40-yard strike as Liberty led 28-7 at halftime.
The junior quarterback called his own number and raced 43 yards for his second TD on the opening series of the second half.
He authored the game’s biggest play on his final series when he lobbed a lengthy ball to Shaa, who turned the connection into an 83-yard score and a 42-7 lead.
Daniels grabbed his second score early in the fourth — a 56-yard reception from backup quarterback Chris Ferguson — and Peytton Pickett scored on a 34-yard run.
Alex Barbir’s career-long 54-yard field goal rounded out the scoring.
–Field Level Media