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The Wichita Force held the Salina Liberty to 50 points on Saturday night, their lowest single game point total of the season, but it was not enough to earn the victory as Tracy Brooks scored four touchdowns to lead Salina to the 50-22 victory. Brooks finished with 151 yards from scrimmage and the Salina defense held Wichita to 192 total yards of offense.
The Salina Liberty would receive the ball first and would waste no time in getting on the board. Jordan Drake’s kickoff was a short one, traveling only 30 yards, and Anthony Jones would return it 19 yards to the Wichita 11. Running back Tracy Jones took over from there, rushing for eight yards on the first play from scrimmage, then scoring from three yards out to give Salina a 7-0 lead.
Wichita would cut the deficit to four minutes later. Jordan Drake kicked a 24 yard field goal to make it 7-3. Each team traded missed field goal attempts before Salina quarterback Andrew Jackson was intercepted in the Wichita endzone by Kionce Roberts. On the next play, Wichita Force quarterback Joe Hubener went for the quick strike as Gary Jolivet, Jr. hauled in the 45 yard touchdown pass to put Wichita on top, 10-7. Into the second quarter the game went with Wichita ahead by three, as they had the opportunity to extend their lead early in the frame. Wichita started the drive from their own 18 and would move quickly into Salina territory on a 16 yard completion from Hubener to receiver Jack Tomlinson. Two plays later they would be faced with a third and 2 at the Salina eight, but Mikhail Lindsay was stopped for a one yard loss. That brought on Drake, whose kick was blocked, and the Force saw the promising drive yield nothing.
Back went Salina where they would retake the lead. The recovery from the blocked kick gave the Liberty the ball at the Wichita 24. They moved to the six in four plays, then Jackson connected on a pass across the middle to Rashad Pargo for the score to make it 14-10.
Missed opportunities have been the story for the Force this season, and that proved to be the case on the next possession. Jolivet returned the kickoff 43 yards to the Salina seven, and Wichita looked like they could get right back on top. However, Hubener’s pass to the corner of the end zone was picked off by Winston Green to kill the drive.
The Liberty would turn the ball over on downs, and the Force would pull within one when Drake hit a 20 yard field goal. Salina would extend their lead to eight on their next possession. Jackson threw a bullet to Anthony Jones over the middle for an 11 yard score to make it 21-13, which would be the score heading into the half.
Coming out of the half the Wichita Force were looking for a spark and they got it right off thanks to their quarterback. On second and 15 from their own 20, Hubener completed a 12 yard pass before hitting Tomlinson for seven more, giving his team a fresh set of downs. It was a clutch third down conversion but not his last. The Force moved to the Salina 10 where they were faced with a third and 9. Hubener went back to pass, then threw to the corner of the endzone for Montero Dubose. Dubose made a spectacular catch, reaching around the defensive back to haul in the ball to make it 21-19.
The Liberty responded right away thanks to Jackson and Brooks. Brooks carried the ball on the first two plays, gaining six yards to set up a third and 4. The Salina QB then connected with his running back for a 32 yard completion down to the Wichita seven. Two plays later, Jackson connected with Brooks on a little swing pass near the corner of the endzone for the score to extend the lead to 27-19.
The Force looked like they would pull within one on their next possession. On third and 3 from their own 24, Hubener was flushed out of the pocket. He rolled to his right then made a perfect pass down field to his receiver who had slipped behind the defensive back, however, he dropped the ball in the endzone. Hubener’s pass on fourth down was behind the receiver, turning the ball over on downs.
Jackson took full advantage of the miscue. On the very next play, he went down field to the corner of the endzone where he found Pargo for the second time in the game. The extra point was no good, giving the Salina Liberty a 33-19 lead.
The teams would exchange a pair of field goals. Drake hit a 16 yarder before Jimmy Allen connected from 18 yards away. Brooks would then put this game away with an 18 yard touchdown run after Wichita had turned the ball over on downs. That made it 43-22.
The Liberty would add one more score. Brooks would race to the end zone from 6 yards out, his fourth total touchdown of the game, to give Salina a 50-22 lead. That would be the final.
Brooks had an outstanding game, carrying the ball 20 times for 110 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three catches for 41 yards and another score. Winston Green and Dana Harris each made an interception for Salina, and the Liberty had 10 pass breakups as a team.
Wichita quarterback Joe Hubener threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Jolivet had three catches for 54 yards and a score. Tomlinson added 46 yards receiving but saw his string of consecutive games with a touchdown end at four.
The Wichita Force (1-4) finally return home next Saturday, taking on the Oklahoma Flying Aces (0-3). Kickoff is scheduled for 7:05. You can purchase your tickets by visiting https://www.wichitaforce.com/schedule.html.
By Robert Pannier
Minor League Sports Report