In the history of Champions Indoor Football, no team has ever won Champions Bowl twice. Not only were the Duke City Gladiators attempting to win the title twice, they were looking to win it back-to-back.
Saturday night the Salina Liberty traveled into New Mexico to Tingley Coliseum to take on the defending champs in CIF Champions Bowl V. The Liberty offense sputtered early on, spotting Duke City an early 11 point lead. After trailing 14-3 with 1:31 left in the first quarter, the Liberty outscored Duke City 13-6 in the second quarter. The two teams hit the locker rooms at halftime with Duke City leading, 20-16.
Salina would continue the surge in the second half, starting the third quarter with a defensive stop then going down the field for a touchdown as Andrew Jackson ran in from 6 yards out. The Jimmy Allen extra point would put the Liberty in front for the second time, 23-20.
In the fourth quarter the two teams exchanged scores with Duke City getting a go ahead touchdown with 5:12 left to play. The ensuing kick would produce another point for the Gladiators as Salina was not able to get the ball returned out of the end zone.
Salina was not done. The Liberty would march down the field and score again with an Andrew Jackson run and tie the game 29-29 with 1:06 left in the game. The extra point to break the tie hit the left upright and was no good for Salina.
Duke City would take the last 66 seconds to score yet again, this time on a rushing play from Romello Brown. The play was reviewed and allowed to stand as called on the field. The Gladiators would go for two and that conversion attempt failed leaving the score in favor of Duke City, 35-29 with 17 seconds left.
The Liberty would make one final push. A pass completion from Jackson to Tracy Brooks would put the football at the 3 yard line with 2 seconds left. On the final play, it appeared Jackson had Daniel McKinney in the end zone for a touchdown but the pass was deflected and fell incomplete.
Salina Liberty end the season with a 9-5 record while Duke City becomes the first team to win the CIF Champions Bowl twice.