So much for any concerns about rust after their long, unplanned layoff.
Dominique Carson scored three first-half touchdowns and Travis Taylor led a stellar defensive effort as the Salina Liberty crushed the Dallas Marshals 55-16 in a Champions Indoor Football game Saturday night at Tony’s Pizza Events Center.
The Liberty (3-1) hadn’t played since a 50-32 victory over Bismarck on March 17. Dallas had to postpone its game against Salina on March 24 in Dallas, and the Liberty had a scheduled bye week on March 31.
The diminutive but hiccup-quick Carson scored on runs of 2 and 3 yards in the first quarter, then caught a short pass from Derrick Bernard and weaved his way through the Dallas defense for a yard touchdown from 7 yards out late in the second quarter as the Liberty rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead.
“We worked hard for three weeks waiting on this team,” said Carson, who finished with 107 all-purpose yards that included 77 rushing. “We had a lot preparation and played hard today and got through the game.”
Carson said the layoff was difficultt.
“It was very tough,” he said. “You practice all week and then they tell you you aren’t playing and then you have a bye week and you’ve got another week ... it’s pretty hard with three weeks and no football. It’s a tough job.”
Bernard was 11 of 21 passing for 89 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Carson and Rashad Pargo caught three passes apiece as the Liberty amassed 189 total yards. Kicker Michael Pursley kicked a 33-yard field goal and was good on six extra points.
“We’re all getting to know each other with the line and the quarterback and the receivers,” Carson said. “We’re growing every day, you can tell every time we play.”
Taylor was unstoppable from his end position, finishing with seven tackles that included 5 1/2 for losses and 3 1/2 sacks.
Dallas (1-4) finished with 142 total yards, but Kolton Browning and Jeffrey Legree were sacked a combined six times and the Liberty forced three turnovers — two fumble recoveries and an interception. Browning was 9 of 12 for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and had 24 yards rushing on 16 carries, but also fumbled twice.
Pursley’s field goal, a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bernard to Pargo and Bernard’s 4-yard TD pass to Julian Staford extended Salina’s lead to 41-10 after three quarters.
The lead grew to 38 after Bernard hit Hi-C Scott with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 8:56 left in the game.
Browning’s 28-yard scoring pass to Robbie Rhodes made it 48-16 and Bernard capped the scoring with a 1-yard run with 3:39 remaining.
Salina plays another home game Saturday when Omaha comes to TPEC for a 6:35 p.m. contest. The Beef (1-3) lost to Bismarck 33-32 Saturday night.
Omaha handed the Liberty their only loss, 42-37 on March 10 in Omaha — the winning touchdown on a 47-yard pass with 22 seconds left.