Liberty Clinch Home Field Advantage with Win Over Bandits

A week ago, the Salina Liberty suffered their first defeat of the season. The goal of a perfect campaign went out the window.

However, the Liberty attained another goal.

The defense gave up just one touchdown, quarterback Mitch Kidd threw for four touchdowns, and the Liberty clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 37-13 victory over the Sioux City Bandits Saturday night at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center. Salina improved to 9-1 while Sioux City fell to 5-5.

Salina’s defense set the tone by forcing a Sioux City field goal on the first drive. After the miss, Kidd led the Liberty to the end zone, finding receiver Jauhem Byrd on a six-yard touchdown.

Both offenses would struggle until the second quarter when Sioux City scored its only offensive touchdown of the night on a two-yard run by Kamal Cass.

Salina immediately answered with a touchdown drive and never looked back. Running back Tracy Brooks ran to the goal line for a 13-yard score. Dontra Matthews then intercepted a pass from Charles Dowdell, giving the Liberty the football with 3:26 left in the half.

Kicker Jimmy Allen finished off the first half with a 48-yard field goal, putting the Liberty on top 17-7.

The Liberty scored the next 20 points. Kidd hooked up with receiver Ed Smith for a 26-yard touchdown to open the third. Following a fumble recovery by Naiquan Thomas, Kidd found the end zone again, this time on a 28-yard connection with receiver Jason Shelley. The final Liberty touchdown came with 1:20 to play in the third with Kidd bombed a pass 36 yard down field to Smith.

Kidd completed 11 of his 25 passes for 175 yards and four scores. Smith had four catches for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas led the defense with 13 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Matthews had three tackles and two interceptions.

The Liberty head to Wichita next Saturday to wrap up the regular season against the Force.