Liberty has 7 turnovers - 6 by QB Brown - in loss

Liberty has 7 turnovers - 6 by QB Brown - in loss

Published Sep. 3, 2011 11:42 p.m. ET

Mike Brown put Liberty in position to claim a monumental victory by making big plays.

His six turnovers ruined any chance the Flames had of upsetting North Carolina State.

Liberty turned the ball over seven times in its season-opening 43-21 loss to the Wolfpack on Saturday night.

Brown fumbled three times and threw three interceptions, but the Flames likely wouldn't have kept it that close had he also not accounted for 356 total yards. The senior finished 22 of 39 for 279 yards passing and added 77 yards rushing.


''I made too many bad decisions,'' Brown said. ''I tried to force too many balls in there when the play wasn't there, and I didn't protect the ball. That was the story of the ballgame.''

The seven turnovers forced tied a school record for N.C. State, which also received an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by T.J. Graham. Brian Slay returned one of Brown's fumbles 52 yards for another score.

''We played with an element of physicality, an element of confidence,'' Liberty coach Danny Rocco said. ''We just had too many mistakes and miscues. Seven turnovers (are) inexcusable. ... I told the players if we could keep the turnovers down, we had a chance to win this game.''

In fact, a big play by Liberty's defense wound up giving the Flames their only lead of the day. Francis Bah scooped up a Glennon fumble and raced 32 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-3.

Liberty outgained N.C. State 406-318.

''We got off to a great start and thought things went well,'' Brown said. ''We thought we could move the ball against them and were confident. But then they began to blitz and they created a lot of pressure on us. We knew they would do that. They didn't do anything we didn't expect. I just didn't execute when we needed it.''

N.C. State didn't need much from its quarterback, who was making his first career start. James Washington had scoring runs of 1 and 19 yards, and Curtis Underwood rushed for 114 yards and had a 33-yard touchdown for the Wolfpack. Mike Glennon was 18 of 31 for 156 yards with a late touchdown in his first start following Russell Wilson's departure.

''I think we maybe put too much on him early,'' Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said.

All eyes during preseason camp in Raleigh were on the quarterback after the exit of Wilson, a former Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year and all-league quarterback who led N.C. State to a 9-4 finish and bowl win last year. He was released from his scholarship after he skipped spring practice once again to play baseball, and wound up transferring to Wisconsin. In his debut two nights earlier, he accounted for 317 total yards and three touchdowns in the 11th-ranked Badgers' rout of UNLV.

Glennon didn't have nearly as easy a time against an lower-division opponent that clearly was not intimidated.

Liberty, the four-time reigning champion of the Big South Conference, knocked off Bowl Subdivision member Ball State last year and kept things interesting all night against the Wolfpack.

The Flames pulled to 23-15 midway through the third on Brown's 27-yard scoring pass to Chris Summers and his 2-point conversion toss to Pat Kelly. After Underwood countered with his touchdown 19 seconds later for N.C. State, Matt Bevins followed with field goals covering 50 and 38 yards to make it 30-21 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

While Liberty couldn't get anything going after that, N.C. State scored twice in the final 5 minutes. Glennon threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mario Carter and Washington tacked on his long scoring run.

''We went toe to toe with them. We were not intimidated at all,'' Liberty linebacker Nick Sigmon said. ''We forced them early into a lot of three-and-outs, and our offense moved the ball well. Then we made too many mistakes that stopped our drives.''