SIU still looking up at Northern Iowa

By Gus Bode

After a close game against the SIU football team, Northern Iowa did its best Saturday to prove it is the best team in the Gateway Football Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision.

The No. 1 Panthers, who won 30-24 on Oct. 13 against the Salukis to give SIU its first loss of the season and earn sole possession of first place in the Gateway , traveled to Western Illinois and defeated the Leathernecks convincingly, 42-3.

After Western Illinois (5-3, 2-1) kicked a field goal to pull within four points of the Panthers in the second quarter, Northern Iowa held the Leathernecks scoreless for the rest of the game and answered with an additional 35 points.

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Western Illinois, SIU’s Nov. 3 opponent, will not be rattled by the blowout, coach Don Patterson said.

“The thing that I have learned over the years is you cannot let one loss count as more than one,” Patterson said in a written statement. “That is going to be the challenge for the coaches, that we make sure the players can bounce back after a very poor performance tonight.”

The Panthers (7-0, 3-0) had possession of the ball for 37:08 of the contest and rushed for five touchdowns – two from junior running back Corey Lewis, who also had 29 carries for 166 yards.

The Northern Iowa defense held Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson, who leads the Gateway with 139.1 yards rushing and one touchdown per game, to 80 yards and no scores.

“They found the perfect way to stop us,” Donaldson said in a postgame interview. “They kept our offense on the sideline. We are used to controlling the ball.”

Senior quarterback Eric Sanders also ran for two Northern Iowa touchdowns, and completed all eight of his passes for 93 yards and another touchdown.

After facing a non-conference opponent on Oct. 13, Youngstown State stayed at home Saturday to face the Illinois State Redbirds.

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The Penguins were upset 27-22 by Illinois State, dropping Youngstown State (5-3, 1-2) from No. 12 to No. 20 in the FCS poll.

Just like SIU in its 24-17 win over the Penguins on Oct. 13, the Redbirds (4-4, 2-2) overcame a 10-0 deficit, scoring their first touchdown on a 77-yard run by running back Geno Blow.

Blow finished the game with 129 rushing yards, while quarterback Luke Drone threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns.

With three losses, Youngstown State joins Western Illinois as the only team in the top 25 with three losses.

The Indiana State Sycamores remained winless, facing former Gateway foe Western Kentucky and losing 56-7.

Indiana State (0-7, 0-3) didn’t score until nine seconds had passed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Hilltoppers to score the first 56 points of the game.

The Salukis (7-1, 3-1) moved up to No. 7 in The Sports Network poll after their 45-10 win over Missouri State (4-4, 1-3), and get a bye week, returning to action Nov. 3 at Western Illinois.

The Leathernecks next play at Illinois State on Saturday, while Youngstown State will try to rebound from its tough loss in a difficult place to play and against the top-ranked team in the FCS – Northern Iowa.

Missouri State will play host to Indiana State, and the Sycamores will be looking for their first win since beating Missouri State 28-22 on Oct. 21, 2006.

Daily Egyptian writer Scott Mieszala can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 256 or [email protected]

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