The Salina Liberty are still in the hunt for a Champions Indoor Football – North Division Championship.
Salina’s defense forced four second half turnovers, newly acquired Daniel McKinney reeled in three touchdown passes, and the Liberty sizzled the Omaha Beef, 54-34, Saturday night at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center. Salina improved to 7-3 while the Liberty handed the Beef their second defeat of the season, dropping to 7-2.
Omaha controlled the opening stanza. Following a 16-yard touchdown run by Salina’s Tracy Brooks, former Liberty quarterback Derrick Bernard hooked up with Javon Bell for a pair of scores, giving Omaha a 19-9 advantage after one.
Salina battled back, knotting up the score on a six-yard pass by Andrew Jackson to receiver Matthew Craig at 22-all with 8:06 remaining in the half. Salina grabbed the lead with another toss by Jackson, this time a three-yarder to Rashad Pargo with 3:23 to go in the second.
Omaha had the final score of the half and the first of the third quarter. Kicker Zeke Arevalo connected on two field goals, one from 33 yards and the other from 36, cutting the deficit to 29-28 with 9:43 on the clock in the third.
From there, it was all Salina. Kicker Jimmy Allen started the scoring onslaught with a 35-yard field goal. Bernard then had a pass intercepted, the first of two by Dontra Matthews. That set up a 41-yard bomb by Jackson to McKinney, increasing the margin to double-digits.
Omaha threatened to score to start the final period, but the drive came to an end after a strip sack by defensive lineman Travis Taylor. Salina ultimately settled for a 30-yard field goal by Allen with 9:11 left in the game.
Salina’s Taylor wasn’t done, recording another fumble in Liberty territory that guided Salina to a 24-yard TD connection for Jackson and McKinney. Matthews provided the true dagger as he intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Omaha four. Jackson finished the game off with a three-yard screen pass to McKinney with 1:06 remaining.
McKinney, who was picked up earlier in the week, finished with six catches for 93 yards and three scores. Jackson was 16-of-22 for 149 yards and five touchdowns. Brooks carried the ball 15 times for 82 yards and a TD.
Bernard was 16-of-34 passing for 166 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. He ran the ball 11 times for 57 yards and a score, but also had a fumble.
Taylor accumulated nine tackles, four for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Matthews made eight tackles to go with his two interceptions.
Salina ends the 2019 season with three consecutive road contests, including a rematch with the Beef on June 15. Up next is the Wichita Force.