The Salina Liberty increased their stranglehold on the CIF lead tonight with a dominant 53-24 win over the formerly undefeated Sioux City Bandits.
With this win, Salina is the only remaining undefeated team in the league at 5-0 while Sioux City falls to 3-1.
“I’m definitely going to enjoy this,” Liberty head coach Heron O’Neal said. “Any time you can get a win against a well-coached rival like Sioux City you have to be happy.”
Fast Ed Smith had a monstrous game at wide receiver, hauling in five passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
“Ed had a huge game tonight, he played like he’s the best receiver in the league which I know he is,” O’Neal said.
It was another impressive day for quarterback Tyrie Adams as well, who completed 10-15 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns through the air, and once again led the Liberty on the ground with 27 yards and a touchdown.
Sioux City opened up the scoring with a big Fred Bruno touchdown run on the first drive of the game to take an early 6-0 lead, but Salina ripped off 26 unanswered points before the half to take a 26-6 advantage into the locker room.
Out of the break, the Bandits battled back, cutting the lead to eight, but the Liberty slammed the gas and never looked back, wrapping up their fifth win of the year 53-24.
“We’re still a little inconsistent but I’m liking the way we respond to adversity tonight, especially after they cut it down to one possession there,” he said.
While Salina only outgained the Bandits by 41 yards on offense, the Liberty defense once again came through when it mattered most, forcing three turnovers on the night and only allowing Sioux City into the end zone three times.
The Liberty have played more games than any other team in the CIF, and will get a much needed break next week before travelling to Dodge City for a run-in with the Law on May 7th.
“We have about four guys injured right now so we have to figure that out and we have to get healthy,” O’Neal said. “The bye has come at a beautiful time for us.”
In addition to collecting his fifth win of the season, O’Neal was nominated for a spot in the IFL Hall of Fame this week.
Salina will have two road trips and two bye weeks before returning home to face the Law on May 29th.