Liberty outlast Tropics in OT in Topeka
Courtesy of the Salina Post
Written by Tyler Henry
After falling to Sioux City in overtime, the Salina Liberty once again found themselves playing beyond the range of regulation, but this time, finished the job and emerged victorious with a 66-65 win over the Tropics in Topeka.
With this victory the Liberty advance to 2-1 on the young season while the Tropics continue their search for a league win at 0-3.
This time, it would be former league MVP Tracy Brooks who would carry the load, cashing in a touchdown run on five of his twelve carries, tallying 48 total yards and a two-point conversion on the day.
Salina started this game with a bang when Kevin Simmons returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to the house to put the Liberty up 7-0.
Topeka looked unphased by this early setback and delivered a series of haymakers to the Liberty defense, taking a 22-7 lead into the second quarter and a 40-30 lead into the half.
From there, both defenses would tighten the screws, and while Salina inched closer, they still found themselves down by five without the ball heading into the fourth and final frame.
Another Topeka touchdown on a QB sneak by Lorenz Stefan would put the Tropics up 53-31, but the Liberty answered on a short run from Brooks and cashed in a three-point conversion to pull within a field goal.
On their heels in their own territory, the Liberty secondary sank back, and as Stefan delivered a pass that could have given the Tropics a two-possession lead Deetray Matthews lept into action, picking off the Topeka signal caller and helping set up another Brooks touchdown to give Salina their first lead since the first quarter.
That lead, however, would not hold as a buzzer-beater tip drill in the end zone found the hands of Shaun Thomas, tying the game and setting up a potential game-winner on the ensuing extra point.
The extra point attempt that could have delivered an elusive Tropics win instead clanked off the right upright sending things to overtime.
Topeka began OT with the ball and drive the length of the field as left tackle Gene Tapia declared himself eligible, then hauled in his only catch of the game from a yard out to take a 65-59 lead before yet another extra point attempt sailed wide.
Not content to go down in short order Salina strung together a drive of their own, punching it in for Tracy Brooks’ fifth TD of the day and setting up an identical situation to the one they faced two weeks prior.
This time, however, newly signed kicker and indoor football journeyman James Kazalski drilled the extra point, delivering the win to the Liberty and remaining a perfect 3/3 on the day.
Despite losing the game, Lorenz Stefan put on a show for the Tropics, completing 26 passes for 287 yards and seven touchdowns, adding three scores on the ground, as well as two PAT passes to account for 60 of Topeka’s 65 points.
The Liberty will be back in action on Sunday, April 2nd when they finish out the road trip in Rapid City in a tilt with the Marshals.