Virginia Tech nearly beat Liberty in improbable fashion. Instead, the Hokies lost in improbable fashion.
This game was tied throughout the fourth quarter with the team trading four touchdowns — two on either side — over the game’s final 10:29 of regulation.
Liberty went ahead 35-28 with 1:41 to play, only for Virginia Tech to tie it at 35-35 less than a minute later. All of that set up a game-winning 59-yard field goal try from Liberty’s Alex Barbir with six seconds left.
That’s when this happened:
The Hokies, channeling the special teams excellence of Frank Beamer’s best teams, sent the house and blocked Barbir’s kick, scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown as time expired.
Except the touchdown did not count. The Virginia Tech coaching staff, in an effort to ice Barbir, called a timeout just before the ball was snapped. The play did not count.
Liberty then decided to go for it on fourth down and completed a pass for eight yards. That gave Barbir a second closer chance, and he absolutely drilled it to give the Flames a 38-35 victory.
It was a brutal turn of events for the Hokies and a triumphant moment for the Liberty program, which is in its second season with Hugh Freeze as head coach. Freeze, the former Ole Miss coach, has the Flames ranked in the Top 25 and now 7-0 on the year.
Malik Willis, a transfer from Auburn, is leading the way for the Flames at quarterback. In the win over the Hokies, Willis threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 108 yards and another score.
Liberty has another ACC opponent, NC State, on its schedule later in the year, too. The Flames also have a road game against another undefeated team, No. 15 Coastal Carolina.
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