Short-handed Liberty fall to Beef, 36-31

by Marjorie Anderson

Courtesy of the Salina Post
Written by Tyler Henry

Despite playing short-staffed, the Salina Liberty battled valiantly on Saturday but ultimately saw their three-game win streak snapped at the hands of the Omaha Beef, who remain in first as the last undefeated team in the CIF.

With a final score of 36-31 Omaha moves to 5-0 while Salina slides to fourth at 4-2.

This game saw plenty of fireworks early before both defenses dug in for a grind-it-out finish at Tony’s Pizza Events Center.

The Beef got on the board first when Gourney Sloan hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong to give some momentum to last year’s runners-up.

The Liberty responded almost immediately on the ensuing kickoff when Tracy Brooks took the ball the length of the field to get Salina back in the mix.

From there, Omaha would score three of the final four touchdowns in a shootout of an opening quarter that saw the Beef up 27-13 at the break.

Fans in Salina braced themselves for a shootout but after scoring 40 combined points out of the gates, the two CIF rivals would combine for just 27 the rest of the way.

The middle quarters in particular saw some of the best defense of the evening, with the lone touchdown belonging to D-Wash on a 24-yard pitch and catch from Nick Eilers.

Two Beef field goals in that span would be all they could muster, and the Liberty would continue to hold Omaha out of the end zone until the final whistle, but despite two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Salina still came up just short in a 36-31 final.

It seemed as though the Liberty had patched their issues on special teams, but two missed extra points and two empty two-point conversion attempts contributed to a six-point swing in a five-point loss.

Despite the loss, it was another strong performance for JaVonte Johnson, who tossed three touchdowns without an interception on the evening.

The Liberty will be back in action next Saturday the 22nd for their third-straight home game when they play host to the 2-3 Southwest Kansas Storm at 6:35 pm.