By TYLER HENRY
JC Post contributor
The Salina Liberty waltzed into Sioux City and handed the last undefeated team in the CIF their first loss on Saturday defeating the Bandits 39-30.
With this big bounce-back win the Liberty have clinched one of this year’s six playoff berths at 5-3 while Sioux City stays atop the standings at 7-1.
The top two scoring defenses in the league came to play in the first half as neither team would find the scoreboard through the first quarter, and Salina preserved their shutout through the intermission.
Sioux City battled but the Liberty remained in control from wire to wire, taking the lead on a second-quarter field goal from Jimmy Allen and never looking back.
Following two lackluster performances under center, Vincent Espinoza was replaced by Javin Kilgo, who became the fourth different QB to start a game for the Liberty this season.
After taking a half to get to grips, Kilgo put on a show, completing 14-18 for 152 yards and tossing three touchdowns without a pick including two to Demarius Washington to put Salina on top 29-6.
Washington quickly established himself as a go-to receiver for Kilgo, hauling in half of his completions for 115 yards to go along with the pair of touchdowns.
The Liberty defense did their part all throughout forcing two critical turnovers including a fumble recovery in the end zone by Anthony Love for a big early touchdown.
Sioux City outscored Salina 24-10 to close out the game but it was far too little far too late as the Liberty secured the series split with their long-time rival.
It was also a triumphant return for the former Special Teams Player of the Year Jimmy Allen as the kicker tacked on eight points including two field big goals in the nine-point victory.
The Liberty will return to Salina next week for their final home game of the 2022 season hosting the 0-8 Topeka Tropics while the Bandits travel to Billings for a battle of the current top-two teams.