June 20, 2024

Late rally pushes Storm past Salina

Dodge City, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–The Southwest Kansas Storm were looking to avenge a season-opening loss on Sunday, as they played host to the Salina Liberty inside United Wireless Arena. A game that the Storm led for a vast majority of the second half saw them trailing with a minute remaining at 31-30. Dillon Burkhard’s 24-yard field goal with 16 seconds left gave Southwest Kansas the lead for good, as they picked up a 34-31 win.

Salina started the scoring off with on the opening kickoff, as Storm returner Daquon Bailey Brown was tackled in the end zone to make it 1-0. SW Kansas (3-3) took the lead late in the first quarter on a Caden Walters one-yeard run to go up 7-1, with the Burkhard PAT.

In the second quarter, the Libery scored the next 14 points, as they got a pair of rushing touchdowns from quarterback Charles McCullom, Jr, and a pair of Cody Mandell extra point kicks to give them a 15-7 lead with under five minutes left before halftime. The momentum in the final minute of the half would be flipped to the Storm. It started on fourth down from the 22 yard line, as Matt Struck connected with Eugene Minter, Jr on a 22-yard touchdown pass on the edge of the padding. Minter would hang on as he went over the padding. The Storm missed on a game-tying two-point conversion to pull to within 15-13. On the next defensive possession, it was Terrell Warner picking off a pass for a pick-six from 19 yards out to put SW Kansas up 21-15 with 43 seconds left in the half. Vincent DiLeo would find the end zone for the two-point conversion. 

The Storm defense wasn’t done scoring in the first half, as a sack by Will Miles in the end zone produced a safety, and Southwest Kansas took a 23-15 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the lone scoring was done by Salina, as they got a three-yard run by Otis Odom with around 9:30 left in the third quarter to pull to within 23-21, after a missed extra point.

The fourth quarter saw the Storm build a nine-point lead, as Sheck found Todd Athey on an 18-yard pass play with around 6:45 left, as Burkhard’s PAT pushed their lead to 30-21. Salina would make their way down the field, converting on a fourth and long to set up a first and goal. With only a little over a minute left, quarterback Jamario Benson scored from four yards out to pull the Liberty to within 30-27. On the other side of the one-minute warning, Benson found Odom on the four-point conversion to give Salina (3-2) their first lead of the second half at 31-30. 

Southwest Kansas started their game-winning drive at midfield, after the kickoff hit an I beam that stopped play. The Storm got one first down, and would have three consecutive rushing plays that forced the Liberty to burn all their timeouts. With 16 seconds left, Burkhard’s 24-yard field goal was right down the middle to give SW Kansas the 33-31 lead. The Storm added to their lead on the ensuing kickoff, as Odom was tackled in the end zone to extend the lead to 34-31. One last heave by Salina would be intercepted by Damien Crumitie, as Southwest Kansas would pick up a big win 34-31.

The Storm passed for 159 yards, as Caden Walters passed for 67 yards and Matt Struck threw for 92 yards. Todd Athey had seven receptions for 82 yards to lead the team. They also rushed for 46 yards. Salina finished with 173 yards, with 143 yards coming through the air.

Southwest Kansas will host the Wichita Regulators on Sunday, June 9 at 2 pm.