Blocked FG helps NC State hold off No. 21 Liberty 15-14

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2020, The News & Observer

North Carolina State's Vi Jones (31) and Isaiah Moore (1) celebrate after Jones blocked a field goal-attempt by Liberty's Alex Barbir during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP, Pool)

RALEIGH, N.C. – For the second time this season, No. 21 Liberty found itself lining up for a late field goal to beat an Atlantic Coast Conference team on the road.

Only this time, Vi Jones and North Carolina State came up with the play to end the Flames' perfect season.

Jones blocked Alex Barbir’s 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 left to help the Wolfpack beat Liberty 15-14 on Saturday night, handing the Flames their first loss of the year.

It was a fitting finish for the Wolfpack (6-3), whose surging offense sputtered much of the night while the defense and special teams came through with big plays — particularly in the fourth quarter.

“Everything that's come at them, they've responded,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “People have doubted this football team all year. For us to now sit here with six wins and two (top-25 wins) says a lot about them.”

Liberty (8-1) was trying to earn a third victory against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent this year, all on the road. The Flames had their shot to extend the best start in program history, too, putting together a drive to give Barbir — who had kicked a 51-yard field goal to beat Virginia Tech earlier this season — a shot at the lead.

This time, it didn't work.

“We talked about it on the headsets and felt he earned that right,” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said. “Obviously, now maybe we should have been more aggressive. We gave us a chance to win it with him. The kick looked real low.”