Storm Pay Liberty Back

by Logan Hernandez

DODGE CITY, KS - Sunday was a night that was met with a lot of excitement for multiple reasons. Earlier this year when The Southwest Kansas Storm traveled to face The Salina Liberty, the Storm fell short of a comeback bid falling 40-43. Additionally, there was a special guest in town, as The Kansas City Chiefs Mascot the KC Wolf was also in attendance. Salina started the scoring off quick as they were able to score 1 Point on the opening kick-off as the Storm were unable to get the opening kick-off out the Ozone Roofing "Ozone." The opening drive for Southwest Kansas seemed to be very promising, however two holding calls negated two different touchdowns. The drive would end in a turnover on downs, giving Salina their first drive up 1-0. On just the second play of the drive DB Michael Lawson would come up with an interception that bounced off of the wall two different times setting up Southwest Kansas with great starting field position. The Storm would capitalize as QB Caden Walter would eventually run it in from 1 Yard out. K Dillon Burkhard would score the PAT through the American Family Insurance, Chris Boys Agency Uprights giving Southwest Kansas a 7-1 with 2:13 remaining in the First Quarter. Salina would end the quarter driving on their offensive possession, bringing the quarter to an end in favor the Storm 7-1. After a couple of big plays Salina QB Charles McCullum would use his own legs to score from 2 Yards out. Salina would make the PAT, taking the lead back 8-7 just 1:59 into the second quarter. Southwest Kansas would have to start from their own 4 Yard line after a penalty. The drive seemed to be on the right track as WR Todd Athey got the ball past midfield on a pass fro QB Matt Struck. However Salina would get a sack that would put the Storm behind the sticks. The drive would eventually end in a turnover on downs. McCullum would use his legs again to score, the PAT would give Salina a 15-7 advantage with 4:16 remaining. The Storm would be facing turning the ball over on downs again, but on a 4th and 7 from Salina's 22 Yard Line Struck would find WR Eugene Minter as Minter fell over the wall at the back of the O-Zone bringing the Storm within 2. The Storm would attempt a 2-PT play but would be stopped at The One Minute Mark. Salina would start from their own 12-yard line. On 2nd and 10, WR/JLB Terrell Werner would intercept McCullum's pass taking it 17 yards back into the O-Zone for a Pick 6. This would give the Strom the lead back 19-15, with the two-point play looming. Struck would hand the ball of the FB/LB Vincent DiLeo II, DiLeo II would dive over the goal line spinning and flipping into the O-Zone. With 43 seconds to Half, Southwest Kansas would extend their lead 21-15. The Storm's coverage team would only allow Salina's return game to get it to the 5-yard Line. On 1st Down OL/DL Will Miles would take McCullum down in the O-Zone for a 2 Point Safety, extending Southwest Kansas' lead 23-15. A miscommunication would not allow the Storm to score any more before the half ended. Salina would make a QB change going into the second half. Salina would turn the ball over on downs on their first possession of the second half. A fumble on first down from the Storm would give Salina a first down from the Storm's 15-yard line. Just three plays later Salina would score, the missed PAT would get Salina within 2, 21-23. Southwest Kansas would have to get to fourth down to move the chains on an acrobatic catch by WR Chris Platt Jr. Southwest Kansas would get into the Guthrie Floorcovering Redzone, down to the 5-Yardline, but a fumble would give Salina the ball back. The third quarter would end in favor of the Storm 23-21, with Salina driving. Vincent DiLeo II would help the Storm defense out by sacking Salina QB Cedric Benson for 8 yards, making it 4th and 13 for Salina. However, Salina would convert. Dillon Thomas would make a pass break-up on 3rd Down, bringing Salina's kicker out on fourth down. A missed field goal would allow DB Keon Clary to bring the ball out the 8-yard line, a kick-catch interference penalty would give the Storm starting field position at their own 20-yard line. Just five plays later Struck would connect with Athey 19 yards into the O-Zone for a Storm TD! Burkhard would kick the PAT straight through the Chris Boys Agency Uprights extending the Storm's lead 30-21 6:00 minutes remaining. Salina would score with 1:20 remaining, due to the timing rules it would bring it to the 1-Minute Warning before the try. Salina would elect to go for a 4-Point try from the 10-yard line, converting it taking back the lead 31-30. The ensuing kickoff would hit the ceiling allowing the Storm to start from the 25-yard line. A methodical drive would put the Storm in position to kick a field goal to gain the lead with less than 20 seconds left. Burkhard would line up and make the field goal giving the Storm a 33-31 lead with 16 seconds remaining. The kickoff would see the Storm add another point as DB Dillion Thomas was able to tackle the returner in the O-Zone for a rogue. The Storm seemed to seal the game with an interception by Keon Clary, however an offsides call would give Salina one more chance with 4 Seconds remaining. Michael Lawson would secure the game on an interception as time expired. This win moves Southwest Kansas to 3-3 on the year while Salina will fall to 3-2. Southwest Kansas will host the ICT Regulators on Sunday June 9th at 2:00 P.M. for the Teacher/Coach Appreciation Game.