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Salina Liberty Outlast the Southwest Kansas Storm 43-40 in a Kansas Shootout

April 28, 2024 - Arena Football League (AFL3)
Salina Liberty News Release

The Salina Liberty held on for the win against the Southwest Kansas Storm 43-40 in Week 1 of the AFL Season

One of the most exciting games of the weekend was the closer. A battle of two Kansas teams had the Southwest Kansas Storm taking on the Salina Liberty.

Salina won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The first quarter started a little slow with each team turning the ball over. The Liberty came out swinging in the second half with three quick touchdowns taking a 24-point lead. Caden Waters and the Southwest Kansas Storm remained calm and confident throughout their comeback cutting the lead to just three points. The comeback would stop there as the Liberty held on to win 43-40.


Caden Walters gets the start over Matt Struck for the Southwest Kansas Storm. The Liberty started the game with the ball and quickly went four and out turning the ball over on downs on their own 23-yard line.

Charles McCullum Jr who just signed with the Liberty days ago gets the start at quarterback and hit "Fast Ed" Edward Smith Jr for 14 yards on the first play of the Liberty's first possession. The Liberty were unable to reach the end zone and turn the ball over on downs.

The Storm wasted no time on their second possession. On the second play of the drive, Caden Walters hits Todd Athey for the 37-yard touchdown completion. An extra point attempt would be no good. Southwest Kansas Storm took the 6-0 lead.

The Salina Liberty's second possession was a clock grinder. They methodically drove down the field and Charles McCullum Jr punched it in on the ground from the 1-yard line. The extra point was blocked. The game tied 6-6 with 20.8 seconds left in the first quarter.


The Southwest Kansas Storm started the second quarter with a bag as Caden Walters hit Eugene Minter on a big play to set them up deep inside Liberty territory. Freddie McGee III would pick off Caden Walters in the end zone. The Salina Liberty took over possession at their own 10-yard line.

It took the Liberty just one play as Charles McCullum Jr hit a wide-open Demarius Washington for the 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Liberty up by six. The extra point would be good this time, the Salina Liberty taking the 13-6 lead with 10:58 left in the second quarter.

On the kickoff, the Southwest Kansas Storm answered right away. Da'Quan Bailey-Brown had an electric kickoff return for 50 yards and a Storm touchdown. An extra point attempt would be missed, cutting the Salina Liberty lead to 13-12.

Salina answered with an electric kick return of their own, Otis Odom took it 35 yards to the Storm 15-yard line. Charles McCullum Jr took a shot at the end zone and Michael Lawson made the interception, giving the ball back to Southwest Kansas.

The Storm couldn't stay out of their own way on this possession. Two penalties pushed them backward, a holding penalty in the end zone would result in a safety. Increasing the Liberty lead to 15-12 with 5:29 left in the half.

Otis Odom did it again for Salina with another electrifying kick return. He returned the ball to the Southwest Kansas 7-yard line to set the Liberty up with good starting field position. Three straight incompletions by Charles McCullum would bring up fourth down for the Liberty. McCullum took the snap and fired a dart over the middle to Eren Jenkins for the touchdown. The extra point is good, Salina takes a 22-12 lead with 1:08 left in the first half.

Da'Quan Bailey-Brown kept the exciting kick returns rolling as he brought the ball to the Liberty 10-yard line on the kickoff return. Caden Walters scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Southwest Kansas Storm back on the board. The extra point is good, 22-19 Salina leads with 11.3 seconds left in the half.


The Liberty would start the second half off sluggishly with multiple penalties to start the drive. Then McCullum hit Demarius Washington for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Extra point good, the Salina Liberty extend their lead to 29-19.

Demarius Washington turns around on defense and picks the Caden Walters pass off! Washington returns it and fumbled into the end zone where a Liberty player falls on it, touchdown Liberty. Salina opened the second half with two quick scores. The extra point was good, 36-19 Salina.

The Southwest Kansas Storm got the ball back, and continued to fall apart. A bad exchange on a handoff turns into a fumble, and Salina Liberty's Justin Foster scoops it up and runs into the end zone for the Saline touchdown. The extra point is good, Salina extends their lead to 43-19.

Southwest Kansas took over once again. This time they had the answer as Caden Walters bounced back with a big pass on the first play of the drive to Todd Athey for the Storm touchdown. 43-26 Salina lead with 4:25 left in the third quarter. The Storm turned around and stood tall on defense stopping the Liberty offense on four plays, which gave them the ball on the Liberty 10-yard line.


There's no quit in the Southwest Kansas team as they pound the ball into the end zone on a Vincent DiLeo II touchdown run. Extra point good, the Liberty lead was cut to 43-33. Immediately after the kickoff Eugene Minter made the interception and the Storm took over again.

The Storm wasted no time as Caden Walters tossed another 12-yard touchdown pass to Todd Athey. The extra point was good. Suddenly the Liberty's 24-point lead was cut to just 3 points with 10:55 left in the game, Salina holding on 43-40.

Salina had another sloppy start to a drive with a few penalties. Then a bad snap laid on the ground and the Storm had a player that could have scooped the ball up and run untouched for a touchdown, but he whiffed and missed the ball. The Liberty retained possession but ultimately would turn the ball over on downs. The Storm took over Poseidon with 5:40 left in the game.

It was a quick possession for the Storm going four and out and turning the ball back over to the Liberty, who would retake possession with just 3:07 left on the game clock and a three-point lead. Salina would run the clock out and take home the victory.


The Salina Liberty moved to 1-0 and will travel to Wichita next week to take on the 0-1 Wichita Regulators.

The Southwest Kansas Storm who fall to 0-1 will stay home to face the 1-0 Iowa Rampage.

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