salina liberty

It’s difficult to imagine the Salina Liberty’s offense playing any better than it did Saturday night.

Led by quarterback Derrick Bernard’s superhuman effort, the Liberty steamrolled the Omaha Beef 69-43 in a Champions Indoor Football game at Tony’s Pizza Events Center.

Bernard completed 13 of 17 passes for 224 yards and six touchdowns, and ran for 80 yards on 13 carries and three more scores as Salina set a franchise scoring record with the 69 points.

Bernard, though, said the offense is just getting started.

“It was a complete team effort and my offensive line did great,” he said, “but I don’t believe there’s a ceiling on how high we can go. I believe I can get 10 (total touchdowns) next game.

“I’ve been saying and coach (Heron O’Neal) has been saying every game has gotten better and better and better. We finally showed up as an offensive and defensive unit and got a major win in against a team we definitely wanted to beat.”

Omaha threw a 47-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with 10 seconds left as the Beef handed the Liberty their only loss of the season, 42-37, on March 10 in Omaha, Neb.

No late-game theatrics were needed Saturday, though, as the Liberty won their third consecutive and improved to 4-1 on the season.

Salina scored on four of its five possessions in the first half and Isiah Barfield returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown as the Liberty stormed to a 35-17 halftime lead. Bernard ran for one touchdown and threw three TD passes in the half.

 

He threw a 39-yard touchdown strike to Julian Stafford on the third play of the second half as the Liberty resumed their offensive onslaught.

Omaha got no closer than 17 points (48-31) after scoring on the final play of the third quarter, but the Liberty squelched any escalating suspense as Bernard threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Stafford — his fourth TD reception of the game — and ran 1 yard a score, making it 62-31 with 7:20 remaining.

A 39-yard touchdown run with 2:52 left in the game capped Bernard’s dazzling effort.

He had high praise for his offensive line, which gave him time to do virtually anything he desired.

“At one point I had so much time I just decided to run around for a minute just to get a better look at the field,” Bernard said with a smile. “My o-line was giving seven, eight seconds in the pocket. Tom Brady didn’t even have that.

“It’s amazing to be on this level with a bunch of guys that want to work that hard and get better every time.”

Stafford caught five passes for 123 yards and the four scores, and Dominique Carson had 32 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving as the Liberty finished with 337 total yards.

 

Omaha quarterback Anthony Iannotti was 18 of 35 for 206 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Beef finished with 249 total yards.

Linebacker Gary Wyatt spearheaded Salina’s defensive effort, finishing with 15 tackles (eight solo), three for losses, and 1.5 sacks.

The Liberty head for Bismarck, N.D. next Saturday and a rematch with the Bismarck Bucks — just their second road game of the season. Salina defeated the Bucks 50-32 on March 17 at TPEC.

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