Kickoff between the Eagles and Flames in the first American football game at Exploria Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m.
The Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF) announced on Sunday that the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl presented by the OSF will be between the Georgia Southern Eagles and Liberty Flames. Kickoff for the fifth-annual contest is set for 2:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium on CBS Sports Network.
“On behalf of the Orlando Sports Foundation, we are honored to welcome the Georgia Southern Eagles and the Liberty Flames to the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl,” said Orlando Sports Foundation CEO and FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl Executive Director Alan Gooch. “We are excited to see these teams compete in the first American football game at Exploria Stadium. Gameday is going to be special as college football fans, cancer survivors and supporters, both team's bands and the Orlando community come together at Church Street Station for the FBC Mortgage March 2 Cure before heading to Exploria Stadium."
Liberty is making its first-ever bowl appearance, while Georgia Southern is heading to its third bowl game, but first outside the state of Alabama.
Georgia Southern (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) and Liberty (7-5) will be playing for the fourth time on the gridiron, but the first time at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. The Eagles won the three previous matchups, which included home victories by in 1984 and 1996.
“The Cure Bowl is about bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer,” said Orlando Sports Foundation President Scott Rose. “Georgia Southern and Liberty are two more teams that are going to carry on our tradition of raising awareness for cancer research and recognizing those that have battled in the fight against cancer."
The FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl presented by the Orlando Sports Foundation directly supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), who has received a total of $3.7 million since 2015. Local Orlando researcher Dr. Annette Khaled at the UCF College of Medicine has been vetted by BCRF and received $1.2 million from the funds donated.
Tickets start at $20 and are currently on sale at CureBowl.com.
The FBC Mortgage March 2 Cure is a pregame block party starting at 10:30 a.m. at Church Street Station. The event will be highlighted by a cancer tribute march featuring the team bands, dignitaries, cancer survivors, cancer supporters and the Orlando community walking in a cloud of pink smoke to Exploria Stadium.
Georgia Southern Eagles (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference)
- The Eagles are making their third bowl appearance and the first outside the state of Alabama.
- Georgia Southern recently made the transition from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level in 2014 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
- Georgia Southern is 2-for-2 in bowl-game victories, notching wins over Bowling Green in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl and Eastern Michigan in the 2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
- This will be Georgia Southern’s fifth game played in Orlando, Fla. It owns an unblemished 4-0 mark in contests played against UCF at Camping World Stadium (formerly, the Citrus Bowl) in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1990.
- The last trip to the Sunshine State from Georgia Southern was a historic 26-20 victory over Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to end the 2014 campaign.
- Georgia Southern has 15 players from its roster from the state of Florida, including Brandon Cross (R-Fr., CB, Jones H.S.), Lawrence Edwards (R-Jr., OL, Spruce Creek), Verneal Henshaw, Jr. (Fr., OL, Flagler Palm Coast), Derrick Newby Jr. (R-Sr., OL, ) and Amari Thompson (R-Jr. S, Lake Minneola H.S.) from the central Florida area.
- The Eagles have six non-offensive scores in 2019, which includes two interception returns, a blocked field goal return, punt return, kickoff return and fumble return.
- Georgia Southern holds a 23-2 mark against teams form the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- The Eagles run the triple-option offense with three rushers eclipsing the 650 yard mark, including J.D. King (776), Wesley Kennedy III (760) and Shai Werts (676).
- Kennedy III paces Georgia Southern with 10 touchdowns followed by King and Werts with eight and five, respectively.
- Quarterback Werts has tallied 704 yards through the air and nine touchdowns.
- The defense for the Eagles is paced by Rashad Byrd (79), Reynard Ellis (78) and Kenderick Duncan Jr. (71) with over 70 tackles each, while Randy Wade Jr., leads the squad with four sacks.
- Duncan Jr. and Byrd have each registered two interceptions.
“We’re extremely honored to be chosen by the Orlando Sports Foundation to play in the Cure Bowl. We’re expecting a large crowd to take in the fun, enjoy the city of Orlando and cheer hard for the Eagles at the game. The Cure Bowl has had a positive impact on the local community, donating nearly four million dollars to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and we are excited to play a football game that raises awareness for such an important cause.”
– Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein
“Our team is honored to be selected for the 2019 Cure Bowl and to represent Georgia Southern University. This year has been filled with adversity and this bowl game is a reward for our players, staff and fans. To be given the opportunity to take on a great opponent in Liberty is something we won’t take lightly and we’re excited about the challenge. Special thanks go out to Alan Gooch, the Orlando Sports Foundation and all of the Cure Bowl staff for selecting us. They’ve made a great choice and I know all of Eagle Nation will descend upon Orlando as they did for our first two bowl games. GATA!”
– Georgia Southern Head Coach Chad Lunsford
Liberty Flames (7-5)
- The Cure Bowl is the first-ever bowl appearance for the Flames.
- Liberty completed its two-year Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) reclassification process in August 2019 and is the 130th FBS team.
- This will be Liberty’s eighth trip to Orlando, which includes a 7-6 win over UCF at Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl) in 1995.
- Last year, Liberty posted a 6-6 record during its first at the FBS level, becoming just the ninth team in NCAA history to finish with a .500 or better record during its first FBS season.
- The Flames are under the direction of first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, who came to Liberty following stops at Ole Miss and Arkansas State.
- Liberty has 18 players on its current roster that hail from the state of Florida, which includes Amarii Jenkins (R-So., LB, West Port H.S.) and Andrew Johns (Fr., LS, Foundation Academy) from the central Florida area.
- Four-year starting quarterback Stephen Buckshot Calvert is a Florida native and played his prep ball at Miami Carol City Senior High School.
- Calvert is the Flames’ all-time career leader in passing yards (11,755), total offense (11,283) and passing touchdowns (91).
- Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden is Calvert’s top target and ranks first is program history in receptions (235), receiving yards (3,751) and touchdown receptions (32).
- Running back Frakie Hickson has tallied 921 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, while catching another touchdown.
- The Liberty defense is led by Solomon Ajayi with 84 tackles followed by Elijah Benton and Jessie Lemonier with 79 and 72 tackles, respectively, while Lemonier paces the squad with 8.5 sacks.
“On behalf of Liberty University, we are honored and grateful to accept an invitation to participate in the 2019 Cure Bowl. The mission and values of Liberty University and the Cure Bowl align well, and we appreciate Alan Gooch and his board affording us the exciting opportunity to experience our first ever bowl game in Orlando. This has been a special season for Liberty football under Coach Freeze and his staff, and we look forward to Flames Nation traveling to Orlando to support the team and enjoy the bowl festivities.”
– Director of Athletics Ian McCaw
“We are thrilled to receive an invitation from the Cure Bowl to compete against Georgia Southern It has been an honor and privilege to lead Liberty’s football program during its first full season at the FBS level and I can’t think of a better place to start our bowl history than with the Cure Bowl. We are excited to represent Liberty University and what its stands for on this national stage, as well as, continue the tremendous efforts this bowl game has given toward the fight against cancer.”
– Hugh Freeze, Liberty University Head Football Coach