CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Liberty football team picked up the biggest win in program history on Saturday, as the 25th ranked Flames beat Virginia Tech 38-35 in Lane Stadium.
Liberty senior placekicker Alex Barbir booted a 51-yard field goal with 0:01 remaining to give the Flames the victory.
The kick was the second attempt for Barbir, and part of a wild finish.
The teams combined to score 32 points in the 4th quarter, and they both scored a touchdown in the final two minutes.
After Virginia Tech tied the game at 32 with 0:52 remaining, Liberty moved into position to try a 59-yard field goal with 0:08 left.
The Hokies blocked the kick, and returned it for a touchdown, but the play did not count, as head coach Justin Fuente had called time out before the play began.
“I don’t believe in waiting to the last second, to call time out, in those situations, because I don’t ever like letting the kicker get a free swing at it," says Fuente. "I hollered, ‘time out.’ I guess I waited too long, so I told the team, ‘It’s on me.’ I called time out, we blocked the field goal, and ran it back for a touchdown. I may never get over it. I really wish I had never called time out.”
The Flames altered their strategy following the blocked attempt.
Rather than immediately trying another kick, quarterback Malik Willis connected with CJ Yarbrough for an eight yard pickup on 4th & 6, and then Barbir was able to connect from the shorter distance to give Liberty the win.
Virginia Tech played most of the game without star running back Khalil Herbert, who suffered a leg injury on a kick return in the 1st quarter.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker led the team in rushing, with 156 yards on 20 carries.
He also completed 20-of-27 passes for 217 and three passing touchdowns, to go along with one rushing score.
The Hokies went into the game as 16.5 point favorites, despite the Flames being undefeated and ranked #25.
Virginia Tech (4-3, 4-2 ACC) will look to bounce back next Saturday at home against #11 Miami.
Liberty (7-0) will host Western Carolina on Saturday at noon.
The Catamounts will be playing their first game of the season, and it’s one of just three games on the schedule for WCU.
Liberty plays an independent schedule, after moving up to the FBS level in 2019.
They also have games remaining against NC State, UMass, and#15 Coastal Carolina.