BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) Malik Willis rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns in his Liberty debut as the Flames opened their season with a 30-24 victory over Western Kentucky on Saturday.

Willis, a backup quarterback at Auburn for two seasons before transferring and sitting out last year, ran for two short touchdowns in the first half and added an 18-yard run early in the fourth quarter for a 30-17 lead. He had 21 carries and threw for 133 yards on 13-of-21 passing.

Tyrrell Pigrome, a grad transfer from Maryland where he started seven games over four years, threw three touchdown passes, including a 36-yard score to Craig Burt Jr. to get the Hilltoppers (0-2) within 30-24 with three minutes left. Liberty, however, was able to run out the clock. Pigrome finished 18-of-25 passing for 193 yards.

The Flames snapped a 14-all tie late in the third quarter when Shedro Louis sped around the left side for a 29-yard score. Willis started the 85-yard drive with a 51-yard run. Joshua Mack added 100 yards rushing on 23 carries with Liberty finishing with 354 yards on the ground.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, attendance was restricted to 20 percent of the 22,113-seat stadium with fans required to wear masks.


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