In the Champions Indoor Football Northern Conference Championship, the Salina Liberty came up with a defensive stop on the final play of the game.
This time, it was the defending CIF champions.
Quarterback Andrew Jackson’s pass from the three-yard line fell to the turf in the end zone, giving Duke City a 35-29 victory over the Salina Liberty in Champions Bowl V. Duke City (11-3) became the first CIF team to repeat as champions, winning eight consecutive games to end 2019. Salina finished the season at 9-5.
The Liberty trailed by four at halftime, but relied on their stout defense to stage a comeback. Salina held Duke City to a missed field goal try and answered with a scoring drive. Jackson scrambled to the goal line from six yards out, giving Salina its first lead of the game at 23-20 with 5:44 to go in the third.
Following another Duke City stop, Salina had the chance to go in front by two scores. The Liberty were deep in Gladiator territory, but the ball slipped from the center on the snap, recovered by Duke City.
The Gladiators capitalized and scored on a remarkable one-handed catch by Sedrick Johnson with 5:12 remaining in the game. Duke City added a point with a rogue on the ensuing kickoff, making the score 29-23.
Salina answered with a one-yard sneak by Jackson with 1:06 to play. With the opportunity to go up by one, Salina’s PAT snap was high, causing Jimmy Allen to hit the upright to keep the contest tied at 29-all.
Duke City went back on top with a two-yard plunge by Romello Brown with 17 seconds remaining.
Jackson had two rushing touchdowns to go with his 15 completions for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offensive charge for the Liberty.