Kaidon Salter tallies four touchdowns to help Liberty football defeat UMass


Staff Writer

Published: 11-19-2023 3:44 PM

Modified: 11-19-2023 3:44 PM

The Liberty offense was able to get whatever it wanted on the ground against the Massachusetts football defense on Saturday in Lynchburg, Va. 

The Flames ran the ball 51 times and gained 324 yards, good for 6.4 yards per carry. Four of those runs found the end zone, helping Liberty take a 21-0 lead after 15 minutes while holding a 35-10 lead at the half. 

The Flames didn’t allow UMass to get back in the game in the second half, helping them keep their unbeaten season alive with a 49-25 victory over the visiting Minutemen. 

“It’s probably our worst effort of the year,” UMass coach Don Brown said. “We didn’t tackle well. When time was important and we needed to play complementary football, we didn’t do that very well either. The end result is you better move on because we’re playing our rival next week. That was the message and the challenge for us will be getting our guys ready to play and playing our best game of the year.” 

Liberty (11-0) got the ball to open the game and went on a 10 play, 75 yard drive capped off with a Kaidon Salter 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Flames the early lead. 

Anthony Simpson fumbled on the ensuing possession for the Minutemen (3-8), giving Liberty the ball back at the UMass 40. Four plays later Salter found Austin Henderson for a 13-yard score. 

Liberty tacked on another touchdown before the first quarter came to a close. Following a Minutemen punt Quinton Cooley took a handoff 60 yards to the house, giving the Flames a 21-0 lead with 2:37 to go in the opening frame. 

Billy Lucas ran in a 4-yard touchdown with 8:48 to go in the second quarter to give Liberty a 28-0 lead. UMass got on the board on the next drive, with Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams running it in from the Flames 23 with 6:47 to go in the half. 

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Liberty answered its next drive as Salter ran it in from the UMass 12 to give the Flames a 35-7 lead with 4:17 to go in the half. 

Cameron Carson made a field goal for the Minutemen to cut the lead to 35-10 at the intermission. 

Preson Hodge picked off a Taisun Phommachanh pass and returned it 62 yards for a score to add to the Liberty lead early in the third quarter. 

The Flames made it 49-10 with Salter found Austin Henderson for a 5-yard touchdown with 14:20 to go in the fourth quarter. 

“You have to play 60 minutes,” Brown said. “We didn’t do that. We had times where we did on both sides. Second half there was some semblance of football. We dug such a big hole in the first half it was tough to get out of.” 

Gino Campiotti caught a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter for UMass. The first was a 27-yard score off a pass from Phommachanh and the second came with 56 seconds to go, a 30-yard score thrown to him by freshman Ahmad Haston. 

“He’s been pecking away and getting better,” Brown said of Campiotti, a converted quarterback. “He’s made a lot of mistakes but it was nice to see him get rewarded.” 

The Minutemen close out their season next Saturday, hosting UConn at noon.