(from Liberty.edu) Willis became the ninth player in program history to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Tennessee Titans picked him in the third round, earlier tonight. He is the first Flame selected in the draft since wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden was taken in the fourth round in 2020 (142nd overall pick).
Willis comes the second-highest NFL Draft pick in program history. The Flames’ top NFL Draft pick was Eric Green, who was selected in the first round (21st pick) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990.
Liberty’s other previous NFL Draft picks include Fred Banks (1985/Round 8/Cleveland Browns), Kelvin Edwards (1986/Round 4/New Orleans Saints), Richard Shelton (1989/Round 10/Denver Broncos), Green (1990/Round 1/Pittsburgh Steelers), Donald Smith (1990/Round 10/Minnesota Vikings), Rashad Jennings (2009/Round 7/Jacksonville Jaguars), Walt Aikens (2014/Round 4/Miami Dolphins) and Gandy-Golden (2020/Round 4/Washington Redskins).
Willis had an award-winning season in 2021. The quarterback was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Maxwell Award and a top 10 candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Roanoke sweep the Huntsville Havoc with a 2-0 Game Two win in the President’s Cup Semifinals. Austyn Roudebush had a 36-save shutout, while Brady Heppner and Nick Ford tallied the goals for the Dawgs. Roanoke will face off against the Peoria Rivermen in the President’s Cup Final.
HUNTSVILLE, AL. – The Rail Yard Dawgs advanced to the President’s Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, sweeping the Huntsville Havoc with a 2-0 Game Two win in the President’s Cup semifinals on Saturday night. Austyn Roudebush had a 36-save shutout, while Brady Heppner and Nick Ford scored for the Dawgs..
The Dawgs and Havoc somewhat switched roles in the opening period, with Huntsville being the more physical side while Roanoke was the more finesse offense. Huntsville outshot Roanoke 14-12 in the frame, but the period ended scoreless.
Roanoke opened the scoring at 4:20 in the second period, as Heppner muscled a shot from the far-side goal line through Huntsville’s Hunter Vorva, giving the Dawgs the 1-0 lead. Matt O’Dea was credited with the assist. The Dawgs held off a slew of shots by the Havoc, who outshot Roanoke 14-3 in the period, and the Dawgs entered the second intermission with a slim lead.
The third period was tightly-contested, with both teams needing huge saves by Roudebush and Vorva to keep the score at 1-0. Finally, Gehrett Sargis took a pass from Bryce Martin right towards Vorva’s net, and Ford finished off the rebound after the initial save. The Dawgs killed off a late penalty and maintained the shutout in the closing moments, sealing the franchise’s first-ever appearance in the President’s Cup Final.
The Rail Yard Dawgs will travel for Game One and Two against the Peoria Riverman, and will play on Thursday and Friday night at 8:15 p.m. EST. Roanoke will then host Peoria for Game Three at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, May 2, and will host Game Four if necessary at the same time on the following Tuesday. If necessary, Game Five will be back in Peoria on Thursday, May 5, at 8:15 p.m. EST. Tickets for Game Three will be available online at 10:00 a.m. EST tomorrow morning, and at Berglund Center box office on Monday. You can watch the games on the Haley Toyota Rail Yard Dawgs Hockey Network on HockeyTV, or listen via Mixlr. The 2022 President’s Cup Playoff run for the Dawgs is sponsored by Haley Toyota.
ROANOKE, VA. – The Rail Yard Dawgs held onto their two-goal lead throughout the third period, defeating the Huntsville Havoc 5-3 in Game One of the President’s Cup semifinals on Thursday night. Jeff Jones scored twice, while Brant Sherwood, Nick Ford, and Sean Leonard added goals for Roanoke.
The Dawgs opened the scoring at 4:44, when Sherwood and Nick DeVito combined to force a Havoc turnover and DeVito found a streaking Sherwood who scored. Rob Darrar pounded home a power play goal at 7:59 to tie the game at 1-1. Roanoke re-gained the lead at 14:56 on a power play blast of their own for Jones, assisted by Mac Jansen and Brady Heppner. The Dawgs led 2-1 entering the first intermission.
The second period was a shootout, with the Dawgs striking first via a CJ Stubbs feed to Ford, who buried the breakaway shot at 6:50 to extend the lead to two. Huntsville got one back via a Jacob Barber power play goal at 10:45, but a blue-line blast by Leonard just 25 seconds later gave him his first professional goal and put the Dawgs up 4-2. Roanoke tacked on another as Jones once again scored on the power play, with Jansen and Matt O’Dea grabbing assists as the Dawgs led 5-2 at 14:42. Barber answered at 15:30 to close out the scoring, and Roanoke took a 5-3 lead into the final period.
Roanoke was able to keep the Havoc at bay in the final frame, despite being outshot 11-5 in the period. Sammy Bernard saved eight-of-nine shots for Roanoke before an injury forced him out of the action at the end of the first period. Austyn Roudebush came in and stopped 18-of-20 shots in relief for the Dawgs. Huntsville’s Hunter Vorva managed saves on 26-of-31 shots that he faced. The Havoc and Dawgs each went 2-for-7 on the power play.
The Rail Yard Dawgs will travel for Game Two against the Huntsville Havoc, and will play Game Three in Huntsville as well, if necessary. Puck drops on Saturday night for Game Two at 8:00 p.m. EST. You can watch the games on the Haley Toyota Rail Yard Dawgs Hockey Network on HockeyTV, or listen via Mixlr. The 2022 President’s Cup Playoff run for the Dawgs is sponsored by Haley Toyota.