The playoff hopes for the Kansas City Phantoms ended with a loud thud during Saturday night’s game against the Salina Liberty, and it was largely thanks to the team’s former quarterback..
In a game that featured chippy play, taunting, showboating and physical altercations, Liberty quarterback Derrick Bernard hurt his former team when he threw for 91 yards for three touchdowns and and rushed for 92 yards and four more scores in a 72-20 rout of the Phantoms at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Phantoms would have missed the playoffs regardless of the outcome because the Texas Revolution captured the final playoff spot with a 60-52 win against the Amarillo Venom.
It was Bernard’s first time at SEC Arena since June 2017 and he had a little bit of fun performing in front of old teammates and friends. He scampered 31 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-6 with 29 seconds left in the first half. On the play, he leaped over the goal line and sailed over the wall separating the players and the fans. After realizing he scored, Bernard hopped back over the wall and waved his arms to his sides, signaling that the game was over.
“There were a lot of guys out here that remembered me – a lot of my old teammates,” Bernard said. “It was exciting, but it was still a business trip.”
Bernard added that he felt like the Phantoms made a mistake for not re-signing him last offseason.
“Any time you feel like you have a lot to offer you feel like that,” he said. “Every time I go out there, any jersey I have on, I want to put on a show.”
While it wasn’t technically over, that was the beginning of the end of Kansas City’s season as Salina scored 58 unanswered points after Phantoms quarterback Donovan Porterie hit Andre Taylor for a 6-yard TD pass on the opening drive.
After that, it was the Derrick Bernard show.
The Liberty defense stifled the Kansas City offense, holding it to 204 total yards and coming up with three interceptions of Porterie, who had trouble finding open receivers because of Salina’s smothering secondary. Porterie, who had 228 yards passing on 24-for-46 passing and three scores, didn’t get much support from the running game as the Phantoms ended with minus-15 rushing yards.
“Salina is a good team,” Kansas City head coach Meadow Lemon said. “They have one of the best defenses in the league.”
Tempers began to flare with 9:50 left in the third when Bernard scored on a 3-yard TD run. When the Liberty quarterback was celebrating, Kansas City players took exception and a scuffle ensued. Kansas City’s Markell White was disqualified from the game.
“Things happen,” Lemon said. “When a team scores like we do, they are going to let us know it. Usually we’re the one running up the board. We’ll take the good with the bad.”
The Phantoms ended the season at 3-9 and went through many personnel changes throughout the season. Lemon said he was proud with the way his team handled a tumultuous season.
“It’s a long season and we had a lot of ups and downs,” Lemon said. “That’s part of building a franchise. You don’t build a franchise overnight. You have to build. That’s what we’re doing.
“The guys don’t like it but they will walk away knowing they persevered. That’s going to help them as players and as men. I am proud of these guys.”