Salukis prevail against Youngstown State in overtime

Salukis prevail against Youngstown State in overtime

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU football team won its third home game of the year in a 38-31 overtime victory against No. 16 Youngstown State.

The Salukis (3-4, 2-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) had five and a half minutes to score 11 points in regulation, and they pulled it off. A score on the first possession of overtime and a subsequent stop were enough to send the Penguins (3-4, 1-3) home with a loss.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” SIU senior quarterback Mark Iannotti said. “And I can say that because our four losses have been the worst feeling in the world. It’s something special. We really needed this as a team.”


The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie. It was the first scoreless quarter the Salukis had played since Aug. 28, 2014.

SIU recovered a Penguin fumble on its own 30-yard line in the first quarter, but failed to turn it into points. Saluki junior kicker Austin Johnson missed a 51-yard field goal on the ensuing drive.

Youngstown opened the scoring in the second quarter on a leaping grab in the end zone by senior wide receiver Andrew Williams.

Iannotti completed two of his first five passes for four yards. His sixth pass went for a 63-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Billy Reed to tie the game.

Youngstown sophomore quarterback Ricky Davis put his team back on top with a six-yard touchdown run.

SIU’s final drive of the first half stalled at the Penguin 20 with less than a minute left. Iannotti appeared to mishandle sophomore long snapper Josh Jahnke’s snap on an attempted field goal. Iannotti threw up a lob pass that was dropped by senior tight end Adam Fuehne.

Youngstown State held a 14-7 lead at halftime.


SIU sophomore safety Kenny James intercepted sophomore quarterback Hunter Wells’ first pass of the second half and returned it 41 yards for his second pick-six of the season. Johnson’s extra point attempt was blocked.

Iannotti ran it in from two yards to give SIU its first lead of the game with 8:42 left in the third quarter. Johnson’s extra point sailed through easily, making the score 20-14.

Williams blew by SIU freshman cornerback Torian Lewis for an 85-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the third quarter. The Penguins led 28-20 entering the final period.

With Youngstown leading 31-20 with 5:35 left in the game, SIU freshman running back Daquan Isom took a screen pass 75 yards to the house on third and 10. SIU lined up to go for a two-point conversion with sophomore left tackle Austin Olsen split out wide to the right. Iannotti found junior tight end Shaq Findlater wide open to his right to cut the Penguin lead to 31-28. 

The Salukis blocked a punt at the end of Youngstown’s next drive. The Dawgs took over at the Penguin 47-yard line.

SIU had first and goal at the four-yard line with 39 seconds left. Iannotti ran the ball twice for a net of three yards before sophomore fullback Hans Carmien dropped a pass at the one on third down.

Johnson made an 18-yard field goal, which tied the game and set up overtime.

The Penguins won the overtime coin toss and elected to take the ball second.

Iannotti found senior wide receiver Israel Lamprakes for a 24-yard touchdown on SIU’s first possession of overtime.

On fourth and two, Penguin coach Bo Pelini dialed up a halfback pass. Junior running back Martin Ruiz led his receiver out of bounds, ending the game and securing a Saluki victory.

Penguin sophomore quarterback Hunter Wells completed 20 of 31 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Iannotti connected on 14 of 27 throws for 275 yards and three scores. 

Ruiz ran for a game-high 94 yards on 24 carries. Isom led SIU with 69 yards on 15 attempts.

Williams led all receivers with 150 yards and two touchdowns on six catches. Reed led the Salukis with 103 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.

James recorded a game-high 16 tackles for SIU. YSU junior safety Jameel Smith paced the Penguins with 13.

Saluki junior linebacker Chase Allen, who was suspended for the first half following an ejection Oct. 17, finished with 10 tackles.

“Hopefully now we can give our guys a taste of good things happening,” SIU coach Dale Lennon said. “We need that type of momentum going into next week.”

The Salukis host four-time defending national champion No. 8 North Dakota State at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31.

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