Liberty BYU Football

BYU defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku (5) tries to defend Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (11) during an NCAA college football Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Provo, Utah. BYU won 31-24. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

PROVO, Utah — Antonio Gandy-Golden’s highlight reel throughout his senior season has featured plenty of one-handed grabs, the ability to carry defenders into the end zone and the occasional hurdle of a defensive back on the ground.

Double-moves to easily get behind a cornerback and tapping his toes to complete a catch before going out of bounds? The 6-foot-4 senior was able to expand his play-making skills in Liberty’s 31-24 loss to BYU Saturday evening at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“We wouldn’t even had a chance without him,” Flames coach Hugh Freeze said of Gandy-Golden’s performance.

The receiver, who accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl earlier in the week, caught 10 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown.

His touchdown reception of 41 yards came on a double-move that allowed him to easily get behind the secondary for one of Buckshot Calvert’s easier throws in the contest.

“I’ve done it in years past. Just not this year,” Gandy-Golden said of the double-move.

Gandy-Golden now has 225 career receptions to give him the program record for most catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

He wanted to have 226 after the game. He dropped what would have been a first-down reception on fourth down to end the Flames’ final drive.

“He’s hurting in there right now. Who knows what would have happened if we converted that first down,” Freeze said. “ … I tried to hug him and pick him up. Right now, he feels like he didn’t complete the game like he wanted to.”

Calvert sets another record

Calvert, the senior quarterback, completed 27 of 45 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. He already held the program record for most career passing yards and touchdown passes.

Now he owns the mark for most career yards of total offense.

The Plantation, Florida, native has 10,851 yards of total offense, and passed the previous mark of 10,690 held by Josh Woodrum.

Was it good?

Liberty appeared to take a 10-7 lead in the first quarter after its second drive stalled at the BYU 24 and Alex Probert’s 42-yard field goal stayed inside the right upright.

However, the officials ruled it was wide right and kept the score tied at 7.

Freeze spent the majority of the ensuing media timeout arguing the call.

“He said it was over the upright,” Freeze said. “It looked very good from my angle and I had a couple of texts to my operations guys saying it was good. I don’t know. The guy said it didn’t.”

A new face making plays in the backfield

JaVon Scruggs’ role through the first seven games at free safety was as a reliable tackler who helped in coverage. Most of his plays were made down the field.

That changed against the Cougars.

Scruggs started at nickelback and finished with a team- and career-high 2.5 tackles for a loss. He also matched Brandon Tillmon with a team-high six tackles.

“Just disguising looks like Coach Symons had been telling us all week that the quarterback would have a little tougher read if you disguised your look,” Scruggs said of what was successful. “I disguised man, obviously I blitzed and I was in the backfield.”

Scruggs missed the Flames’ victory over UMass after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter against Rutgers.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “Coach Symons, he just has the trust in me and the faith in me, and I just respect him for that. My defense, they just have that trust in me, too, that I can just go out there and do whatever the task is called for me to do. I felt pretty good out there after not playing last week. I really got to watch more film on these guys and tried to get the most tendencies that I could.”

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Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.

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