Liberty, Toledo look to end on high note in Boca Raton Bowl

Liberty was sailing along with an impressive season in early November but hasn’t prevailed since and lost coach Hugh Freeze to Auburn.

The Flames (8-4) will try to recapture their magic and end the season on an impressive note when they face Toledo (8-5) on Tuesday night in the Boca Raton Bowl in Florida.

Co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jason Aldridge is serving as interim coach as Liberty aims to move to 4-0 in bowl games as an FBS program.

The Flames recorded wins over Arkansas and BYU but are carrying a three-game slide into the matchup with the Rockets.

“It’s been somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster this season — some of the biggest moments in school history and then your head coach leaves, which is part of this game,” Aldridge said in a press conference on Wednesday. “So, just trying to make sure these guys enjoy this week and hopefully go get a win.”

Jamey Chadwell, most recently of Coastal Carolina, will take over the Liberty program following the bowl game.

Toledo is 3-0 all-time against the Flames with all the wins coming during Liberty’s time in the FCS ranks.

The Rockets defeated Ohio 17-7 in the Mid-American Conference title game to earn this invitation to the South Florida bowl for the second time.

The first was in 2015 when Toledo defeated Temple 32-17 in Jason Candle’s first game as coach after Matt Campbell took the Iowa State job. Candle since is 0-4 in bowl trips.

Quarterback Dequan Finn leads the Rockets’ offense and has passed for 2,127 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while adding 608 yards and eight scores on the ground.

Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell has five interceptions and earned multiple All-American honors. He rocketed his way onto the national radar when he tied the school record with four interceptions and set a program mark by returning two of them for touchdowns in a 52-32 road win over Northern Illinois on Oct. 8.

“He’s not a guy that says a lot but he’s a guy that shows competitive spirit each day at practice,” Candle said during a press conference earlier this week. “He’s very gifted as an athlete and he produced. He had four interceptions in one game. That’s going to get anybody’s attention. That’s like a quarterback throwing six or seven touchdown passes.”

Liberty also has a defender receiving All-American honors in defensive end Durrell Johnson, who leads the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss. Johnson has eight sacks and three forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media