Last time the Salina Liberty faced the Dodge City Law, coach Heron O’Neal was extremely displeased with his defense. O’Neal knew that if the Law scored another 54 points, their season could end.
The defense was ready this time.
Salina’s defense made a string of stops to end a potential shootout, quarterback Tyrie Adams threw for five touchdowns to four different targets, and the Liberty dispatched the Dodge City Law 55-31 Saturday night inside the Tony’s Pizza Events Center. With the win, the Liberty will host the Omaha Beef in the Champions Bowl next Saturday for the Champions Indoor Football championship.
Going into the contest, there was a good chance for shootout and that was the theme for the first 23 minutes. Salina held Dodge City to a field goal on the game’s opening possession, a 38-yard kick that Brett Mathis made to give Dodge City the lead.
Adams and the Liberty responded with a four-yard touchdown between Adams and receiver Jauhem Byrd. DC quarterback Jaylen Lowe led the Law on a four-play, 27-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard TD run by Lowe.
Once again, the Liberty fired back with a 21-yard bomb to the end zone by Adams to receiver Jason Shelley with 55 seconds left in the first, making it 14-10. Dodge City’s Lowe sniffed out the goal line once again, giving the Law the upperhand early in the second with a six-yard run. Adams found Byrd again, this time on a three-yard score to give the Liberty a 21-16 advantage with eight minutes left in the half.
Dodge City then wasted 3:30 of game clock, but the Liberty defense created the stop they needed to create separation. Defensive end Jake Lattimer forced a fumble which the Liberty recovered at the Salina 12. Salina reached the three and put the ball in the hands of tailback Tracy Brooks, who found the end zone to make it 28-16 with 1:00 remaining.
Lattimer would come up big again, sacking Lowe, forcing the Law to miss a field goal with eight seconds to go. The kick was returned to the Law 12, giving kicker Jimmy Allen an easy 27-yard field goal as time expired, putting Salina on top 31-16.
Salina received the second half opening kick and wasted no time reaching the goal line. Adams fired a five-yard pass to receiver Chad Steinwachs, expanding the lead to 38-16. That was the only touchdown of the third for the Liberty, but the defense only allowed 15 second-half points to get the win.
Dodge City was held to 18 yards passing. The Liberty defense was led by Naiquan Thomas with 13 tackles, one for loss. Lattimer had a monster day – 10 tackles, three for loss, one sack, a forced fumble, and a blocked extra point. Travis Taylor picked up 11 tackles, one for loss. The Liberty had seven TFL’s for the game.
Offensively, Adams was 12-of-16 passing for 113 yards and five touchdowns. Ed Smith, Steinwachs, and Shelley each had a touchdown grab. Byrd had a pair. Brooks ran 16 times for 77 yards and a pair of scores.
The Liberty face the Beef on Saturday, July 17. Tickets are on sale right now at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center.