The Salina Liberty got off to the best start possible in the franchise’s first ever regular season game Saturday night at the Bicentennial Center. Liberty returner Jarrel Kelley took the opening kickoff from his own endzone and zig zagged his way down the field to ring the bell for the franchise’s first ever touchdown.
The Liberty defense then stepped up, and kept the visiting Wichita Force out of the endzone on consecutive possesions. With 8:49 left in the opening quarter Kelwin Burke Jr. gave the Liberty a two-score lead at 13-0.
A couple of minutes later Wichita got on the board when quarterback Emmanuel Taylor broke a couple of tackles to score on a short TD run.
Salina would score again on a short fieldgoal. At the end of the 1st quarter the Liberty lead 16-6.
The Force would quickly respond, with another touchdown. With 11:13 left in the half, Salina lead 16-13.
A couple of minutes later Salina responded with a score of its own. Jarrel Kelley found the endzone again, and after the PAT was blocked Salina lead 22-13 with 9:13 left in the half.
The rest the half belonged to the Force. With 8:17 left a long pass pulled them to within 22-20. The Force then took their first lead 23-22, with a short fieldgoal. The visitors from Wichita then would find the endzone again, returning an interception for a touchdown. With under 5 seconds to go in the half, the Force picked off their second pass of the game. They would convert that intercetion into a fieldgoal with just a second left. At the half, the Force lead the Liberty 33-22.
The Force received the kickoff to star the second half, and quickly extened their lead. On a busted play, just 58 seconds into the half, Wichita scored on a long touchdown pass to lead 40-22.
After the Force held the Liberty on downs, they quickly scored again, on a short touchdown run following a long pass completion. With 10:46 left in the quarter, Wichita lead 46 – 22.
The Force then came up big on defense, returning another interception for a touchdown, this one the length of the field end zone to endzone. Wichita lead 52 – 22.
Salina cut into the lead, with Zach McClain catching a short touchdown pass. The score was 52-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Early in the third quarter the Force scored again, after intercepting Salina for a fifth time. The score was 59 – 28 with 10:52 left in the game.
Salina cut into the lead with a short touchdown pass. With 6:25 left the score was 59 – 34. The Liberty defense then quickly came up with a safety. The offense got the ball back trailing 59 – 36 with under 5:00 to play. The offense did its part, with Derek Racette scoring on a quarterback keeper. A two point conversion was good, and with 2:14 left in the game the score was 59 – 44.
Salina unsuccessfully attemped an onside kick, giving the Force a short field. Wichita took advantage, and with uner a minute to play punched in another touchdown to make the final score 66 – 44.
Salina will go on the road next week to try and get its first win in Chicago against the Illiana Eagles.