UNC Football: Remembering the Liberty Game


Remembering the good times is a series Keeping It Heel will run leading up to the 2015 football season recalling last year’s six wins, or, the good times of the season. Today, KIH remembers the win against Liberty.

Believe it or not, UNC football ranked in the top-25 going into the 2014 season. In the season opener against the Liberty Flames, the Tar Heels boasted a No. 23 ranking.

To be honest, the ranking isn’t that impressive without context. Last season was supposed to be the year that UNC football had its awakening. The media was expecting UNC to be competitive. The program was supposed to take a few steps forward. And of course, it never happened. If anything, UNC went in reverse.

But on Aug. 30, just minutes before its match-up against Liberty, UNC still had hope of what it could accomplish. Players and coaches were eager to showcase this confidence against the Flames.

But it didn’t start out that way.

Before five minutes had run off the clock, UNC was up 7-0 after a seven-yard pass to Bug Howard — the drive lasted about two minutes.  But Liberty responded by tying the score midway through the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Liberty forced a safety.  And less than four minutes later, the Flames bullied their way into the end zone to take a 15-14 lead with 1:37 remaining in the half. However, The Tar Heels did respond with a quick seven-play, 66 yard drive to take a 21-15 lead going into the locker room.

Capturing the lead was a boost, but the fact still remained — the top-25 Tar Heels were leading an FCS team by just six points at halftime.  And the nightmare continued early into the second half.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Quinshad Davis fumbled, and Liberty returned it 27 yards for a touchdown, retaking a 22-21 edge. But this was the last triumph for the Flames. Liberty began to shoot itself in the foot, and the Tar Heels accepted it and took advantage.

UNC eventually scored another touchdown, taking a 28-22 edge. But on Liberty’s ensuing offensive possession, Jeff Schoettmer returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown. 35-22 UNC.

That’s 14 points in 13 seconds.

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels /

North Carolina Tar Heels

On the kick-off, Liberty kick returner Todd Macon fumbled, and UNC recovered at the Liberty 36-yard line. Marquise Williams finished the drive with a 15-yard scamper. 42-22 UNC.

That’s 21 points in 2:08.

This time, Liberty was able to secure the kick-off. But on second and seven, Liberty once again coughed up a fumble. UNC recovered and Trubisky tossed a four-yard touchdown pass to Jack Tab. 49-22 UNC.

That’s 28 points in 3:49.

And that was that. Touchdowns were exchanged in the fourth quarter to make the final score 56-29. It was a sigh of relief for Tar Heel fans, but in hindsight, it served as an omen. Liberty was just an FCS team making multiple errors. And as the season went on, UNC faced tougher opponents who made fewer mistakes. The UNC defensive was dominated, and the offensive tried to keep things competitive.

Regardless, UNC should be proud of this victory. It did push them to No. 21 in the AP poll.