Tyrie Adams throws for 5 touchdowns, runs for 2 as Salina Liberty beat Wyoming, 63-32

By the time the Wyoming Mustangs found a solution to Salina's defense, it was too late.

The Liberty, for all intents and purposes, had the game wrapped up with one foot on the bus and were ready to head home.

While the Liberty defense produced three end-zone interceptions and four sacks in the first half, their offense was unstoppable all night, racking up 284 yards on the way to a 63-32 Champions Indoor Football blowout at the Camplex Wyoming Center in Gillette, Wyoming.

"I liked our first half, going into halftime 42-7," Liberty coach Heron O'Neal said after his team scored the game's first 28 points and tack on two more touchdowns in the last three minutes of the second quarter. "I just didn't like the way we came out of halftime.

"We didn't play the way we need to, but we'll make some corrections."

The Liberty can address those issues from atop the league standings, where they sit at 4-0 overall and 3-0 against CIF opponents. Wyoming, an expansion team, is now 2-2, but 0-2 within the conference.

Wyoming got its only defensive stop to start the second half, then scored to briefly cut into its 34-point deficit. But the Liberty answered every Mustang touchdown with one of their own.

"(The fast start) definitely gave us the confidence to try some different things to see what we can do, offensively and defensively, moving forward," O'Neal said. "The first half, our (defensive) line did the things we needed them to do and our secondary made the big plays we were looking for."

After dominating with their rushing attack for the first three weeks, the Liberty turned rookie quarterback Tyrie Adams loose in the passing game against Wyoming with devastating effect. He completed 17 of 20 passes for 244 yards and five touchdowns without an interception, plus ran for two more scores.

"That was our game plan, just trying to see what I've got with our quarterback and receivers, as well as our offensive line pass blocking," O'Neal said. "We wanted to come out and get better in a different area, and we definitely did that.

"Throwing the football is something we've done efficiently, (but) not as effectively as I would like. This week, that was a point of emphasis — throwing the ball downtown — so I was definitely happy with that."

Three of Adams' touchdown passes covered 25 or more yards and another went for 18.

Tracy Brooks, who led the CIF in rushing in 2019 — the league's most recent season thanks to COVID-19 — carried just eight times for 11 yards, but he did run for two more touchdowns to give him 10 for the season.

Still, the night belonged to Adams and his receivers.

"A lot of people forget about the receiving corps that we have here," O'Neal said. "A lot of the focus has been on Tracy and rightfully so, and on our offensive line, but we do have a complete offense, and that's what we proved tonight."

d Smith and Jauhem Byrd each caught two touchdown passes and newcomer Jason Shelley one in his professional debut.

"He's a rookie who came in and impressed us from day one," O'Neal said of Shelley, who played for Southern Oregon in 2019. "We're happy to have him."

Defensively, the Liberty twice shut Wyoming down in goal-to-go situations with end-zone interceptions from Isiah Barfield and Kendrick Harper in the first half. Harper had the second pick in the end zone on a deep ball.

But Wyoming quarterback David Perkins, who relieved starter Faustino Saucedo early in the second quarter, completed 8 of 12 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for two more.

"We definitely had some breakdowns in the secondary that we will address on Monday when we look at the film," O'Neal said. "We did not come out of halftime the way we needed to and match their intensity, especially in the third quarter.

"We settled down in the fourth quarter, but I did not like the way we came out of that locker room."

The Liberty were led defensively by linebacker Naiquan Thomas with eight tackles, including two for loss. Ends Travis Taylor and Jake Lattimer each had five stops, including three apiece behind the line of scrimmage, and combined for three sacks.

The Liberty will be back at home at Tony's Pizza Events Center next Saturday to face the unbeaten Sioux City Bandits (3-0, 2-0 CIF). Sioux City beat Omaha on the road Saturday, 33-22.