AMHERST, Mass. — DeMario Douglas was greeted by a text message Saturday morning from his mother, Angie Mack. The message: Show them what you’re capable of.
The Liberty freshman slot receiver, making his first appearance since the season opener against Syracuse, certainly did that during one of the Flames’ four first-quarter scoring drives.
Douglas set career highs with four catches and 85 receiving yards, and he scored his first career touchdown when he was left open in the middle of the field for a 31-yard score in the Flames’ 63-21 rout of UMass at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
“I just thought about that as I was playing and executing,” he said.
Douglas was told Saturday morning he was playing. He has traveled with the team for every road game but is being used sparingly to preserve his year of eligibility.
Williams makes collegiate debut
Freshman linebacker Aubrey Williams made his collegiate debut in the fourth quarter to help with the Flames’ lack of depth at the position.
Williams teamed with Mason Wolk on a sack of UMass quarterback Andrew Brito.
“Aubrey’s really good against the run. We know that,” Flames defensive coordinator Scott Symons said. “It’s just we’re challenging him to be consistent is every aspect.”
An area needed for improvement
Liberty entered Saturday’s game ranked 31st nationally with a plus-four turnover margin.
That will change after the Flames failed to record a takeaway and turned the ball over three times on fumbles that led to 14 of UMass’ 21 points.
UMass’ scoring drives after the takeaways were 14 and 46 yards. Those drives lasted two and three plays, respectively.
The first takeaway came after DJ Stubbs muffed a punt. The second was the result of backup quarterback Landon Brown losing a fumble while attempting to pick up a first down.
“I think the situation that we have to get better on is sudden change,” Symons said.
One record down, another within reach
Liberty senior wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden caught six passes for a game-high 137 yards and a touchdown. He had five receptions for 110 yards in the first quarter.
Gandy-Golden now has 1,082 receiving yards this season and is the first receiver in program history with three 1,000-yard seasons.
He is tied with Darrin Peterson for the most receptions in program history with 215.
A different type of debut
Lineman Henry Chibueze, a former three-star recruit, made his debut on the defensive line at nose guard against the Minutemen.
The Woodbridge native finished with an assisted tackle.
“He’s obviously very large, and so he’s hard to move,” Symons said. “I’m sure he probably won the A-gap against the run, I would hope so, [so] we’ll see how he looked transitioning against the pass.”
The 6-foot-3, 340-pound Chibueze was the Flames’ highest-rated recruit in the class of 2018 as a projected offensive guard. He played in one game last season at right guard.
Robinson’s first passing touchdown
Flames redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Robinson has been used exclusively to run the ball this season. So when he lined up in the shotgun from the UMass 5 in the first quarter, most expected him to run.
Instead, Robinson tossed the ball to Troy Henderson, who was in motion at the snap, and Henderson scored around the left edge for Robinson’s first career touchdown pass.
Robinson accounted for two first-half touchdowns and finished with 30 rushing yards and 19 passing yards.
His only pass attempt prior to Saturday was against Hampton, when he received ample playing time in the Flames’ 62-27 victory.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.