SIU Football wins 31-30 to squeeze by the Leathernecks On the Road

By Cole Daily, Staff Reporter

The Salukis traveled to Macomb, IL and beat Western Illinois University 31-30 in overtime on Saturday.

The Salukis started the game with an interception by senior linebacker Bryce Notree at 13:34 in the first quarter. SIU capped off the interception with a 32 yard touchdown pass to sophomore quarterback Nic Baker to senior wide receiver Landon Lenoir.

The tone started to shift when Baker ran it in for another touchdown at 3:26 in the first quarter. The momentum was entirely with the Salukis and SIU went up 14-0. 

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During the drive junior wide receiver Avante Cox suffered an injury. He did not return to the game.

Nic Baker threw his first interception at 1:17 which helped Western Illinois gain some momentum at the end of the first. The pass was picked off by senior cornerback Michael Lawson.

The Salukis managed to get a stop, and scored after senior running back Donovan Spencer took it four yards for the score. That touchdown gave the Salukis a 21-0 lead.

Western Illinois had their first score of the game with 4:51 minutes left in the 1st half. 

The Leathernecks capitalized on their momentum, after Baker threw another interception. This time, senior cornerback Jalen Powe took it all the way to the house. 

The score at the end of the first half was 21-10.

With Western Illinois’ first drive of the second half, senior quarterback Connor Sampson threw an interception to senior safety Qua Brown. Saluki’s senior kicker Nico Gualdoni converted this into a 37-yard field goal with 3:44 minutes left in the third quarter. 

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Southern Illinois struggled to gain momentum, and the tide shifted to Western Illinois’ direction. Sampson threw a touchdown to senior wide receiver Dallas Daniels for a Leatherneck touchdown, to make the score 24-17.

After a three and out by the Salukis, the Leathernecks scored another touchdown at 6:50 to even the game, 24-24. The touchdown was scored by sophomore running back Ludovick Choquette.

The Salukis started a drive with less than a minute left in the game. With three seconds left in the game, Gualdoni missed a 45 yard field goal, which sent the game to overtime tied at 24.

The Salukis opened overtime with a 25 yard touchdown throw from Baker to Lenoir.

Western Illinois soon responded with a 25 yard touchdown run of their own by senior running back Myles  Wanza.

Western Illinois attempted a two-point conversion to close the game, but failed. Southern Illinois came out on top 31-30.

Baker led the game with 240 passing yards and two touchdowns. Donovan Spencer helped the team from scrimmage, where he totalled 59 yards a touchdown. On offense, SIU was led by senior wide receiver Landon Lenoir who totaled 5 receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense was led by linebackers Makel Calhoun and Notree. Calhoun recorded 10 tackles and a sack. Notree and Brown both had an interception, with Notree also having six tackles.

The Salukis will play their next game on Oct. 9 against South Dakota State at 2 pm.

Sports Reporter Cole Daily can be reached at [email protected]

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