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UMass no match for unbeaten No. 25 Liberty, as Kaidon Salter posts 4 TDs in 49-25 win

UMass linebacker Jerry Roberts Jr. (48) can't catch Liberty's Kaidon Salter around the corner as the Flames star quarterback runs for a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter Saturday in Lynchburg, Va.Robert Simmons/Associated Press

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Kaidon Salter threw for 225 yards, rushed for 118, and accounted for four touchdowns Saturday as No. 25 Liberty defeated UMass, 49-25.

Salter averaged better than 20 yards per pass while completing 11 of 16. He tossed touchdowns of 13 and 5 yards to Austin Henderson, and scored on runs of 1 and 12 yards.

The Flames (11-0) struck early, scoring on four straight first-half drives to take a 28-0 lead.

“That’s two weeks in a row we started well,” Liberty coach Jamey Chadwell said, “and as a coach, we’ve got to figure out how … to finish with that same intensity through all four quarters. But it was it was good to see us come out like that.”


Taisun Phommachanh threw for 239 yards on 22-of-38 passing for UMass (3-8), but Liberty intercepted him twice. Preston Hodge had a 62-yard pick-6 in the third quarter to give Liberty a 42-10 lead.

Gino Campiotti (5 catches, 84 yards) had two TD catches in the fourth quarter, 27 yards from Phommachanh and 30 yards from backup QB Ahmad Haston. Mark Pope was UMass’s leading receiver with six catches for 90 yards.

Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams ran 17 times for 92 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run for the Minutemen’s first score in the second quarter. Cameron Carson booted a 35-yard field goal to make it a 35-10 deficit at halftime.

Liberty running back Quinton Cooley, who ran for 102 yards on just eight carries, broke loose for a 60-yard touchdown in the first quarter, bowling over a defender at the line of scrimmage, hurdling another as he entered the open field, and running untouched down the sideline for a 21-point lead.

Liberty, which entered the game averaging a Bowl Subdivision-best 278 yards rushing per game, ran for 324.

“Like I told the guys, it’s probably our worst effort of the year,” UMass coach Don Brown said. “We didn’t tackle well. When we needed to play complementary football, we didn’t do that very well either.”


UMass was coming off a bye week and had won two straight games. Defensively, the Minutemen allowed Liberty to average 6.4 yards per rush and 20.5 per completion.

The Minutemen have one more chance to reach the four-win mark for only the third time since they joined the FBS in 2012 — on Saturday when they host UConn.

With the result, the Flames set a program record for wins and can finish its first perfect regular season with a victory next week at UTEP.

Boston Globe Today: Sports | November 17, 2023
Watch the full episode of Boston Globe Today: Sports from November 17, 2023