Daily Egyptian

Salukis drop Senior Day game to Illinois State

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

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Illinois State outscored SIU 21-0 in the third quarter Saturday to propel itself to a 42-21 win.

The No. 6 Redbirds (8-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) ran for 373 yards, 131 of them in the third quarter. All six ISU touchdowns came on the ground.

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The Salukis (3-7, 2-5) lost for the third straight week and fourth time in their last five games. The loss was the Dawgs’ first by more than six points all season.

“Today we got beat by a pretty good football team,” SIU coach Dale Lennon said. “Illinois State did exactly what they needed to do to take control of the game in the third quarter, and we just weren’t able to recover from it.”

The first five possessions of the game ended in punts. The next three ended in touchdowns.

The Salukis ended the scoreless first quarter at the Redbirds’ six-yard line. Two plays into the second, senior quarterback Mark Iannotti found senior tight end Adam Fuehne for a seven-yard touchdown pass.

Illinois State answered with a 57-yard drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown run by senior running back Marshaun Coprich.

The Salukis marched 80 yards to answer with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Iannotti to junior wide receiver Kyle Newquist.

The teams traded punts before Redbird junior running back Jamal Towns broke off a 40-yard touchdown run.

Iannotti threw a third-and-eight pass to Illinois State senior defensive lineman Teddy Corwin on the next possession. The Redbirds took over at the Saluki 17-yard line.

Senior quarterback Tre Roberson underthrew his receiver in the end zone on third and 12. SIU senior safety D. J. Cameron picked it off and returned it to the Saluki 23.

Iannotti and company conducted an eight-play, 77-yard drive that culminated with a 12-yard pass from Iannotti to junior wide receiver Billy Reed four seconds before halftime.

Reed appeared to get one foot down inbounds before being shoved out of the back of the end zone. The touchdown stood after an official review.

SIU led 21-14 at halftime.

Illinois State forced a punt on SIU’s first possession of the second half and tied the game at 21 after a 23-yard touchdown run by Roberson.

Saluki junior running back Aaron Stanton fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and three plays later Roberson ran for another touchdown to give Illinois State its first lead of the game.

Coprich scored on a 22-yard run on ISU’s next possession to extend the lead.

SIU drove to the Illinois State 22-yard line before freshman running back Chris Perkins fumbled. Redbird senior linebacker Pat Meehan returned the ball 74 yards to the Saluki nine-yard line.

Two plays later, Roberson and Coprich botched a handoff, and SIU junior linebacker Deondre Barnett recovered the loose ball. SIU did nothing with the ensuing possession.

Coprich’s 75-yard touchdown run with 3:31 left in the game put the final nail in SIU’s coffin. His 254 rushing yards set a Saluki Stadium record.

Iannotti led SIU with 94 rushing yards. He completed 41 of 62 passes for 329 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Iannotti’s 423 total yards gave him 3,587 for the season, breaking co-offensive coordinator Nick Hill’s school record set in 2007. 

Roberson connected on four of 13 passes for 88 yards and one interception.

Reed led all receivers with 138 yards on an SIU-record 14 catches. Redbird sophomore receiver Christian Gibbs led his team with 50 receiving yards on two catches.

“I’m proud of the way we kept battling,” Iannotti said. “It just shows the passion of our group. That’s something we’re definitely going to build our legacy on and something we can leave behind here.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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