Northern Iowa crushes Saluki playoff hopes in blowout win

By Tony McDaniel

SIU’s playoff chances were dashed Saturday by a team that hasn’t won in Carbondale since 1996.

Northern Iowa blew out the Slaukis on senior day 40-21. SIU gave the Panthers the win with 4 turnovers that UNI converted for 21 points.

Despite the poor performance by SIU, senior tight end MyCole Pruitt set a new career reception record with his 208th in the first half. Pruitt finished with 211 career receptions.


Pruitt was pleased to set the school record, but was upset to miss the playoffs. SIU has not reached the playoffs in Pruitt’s time as a Saluki.

Redshirt freshman running back Cameron Walter tied the school record for reception in a game with 13.

Sophomore quarterback Ryan West started the game for the Salukis, but was relieved by junior quarterback Mark Iannotti after he threw 3 interceptions.

Coach Dale Lennon said he was pleased with Iannotti’s performance after the game.

West finished the game 20 for 35 for 187 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Iowa opened the scoring in the first quarter when senior quarterback Brion Carnes passed to junior tight end Braden Lehman for an 18-yard touchdown reception.

The Salukis struggled to get much going offensively in the first half thanks in part to 2 interceptions thrown by West.


West threw his first interception backed up to his own end zone. The Panthers scored on the next play with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back David Johnson.

With 2:25 left to play in the half, West threw another interception backed up to his own end zone, this time to junior strong safety Tim Kilfoy. He took the ball in for a touchdown himself to give UNI a 21-0 lead going into half time.

SIU could have trailed 21-6 at the break, but senior kicker Thomas Kinney missed 2 field goals.

UNI scored the first touchdown of the second half when SIU punter, junior Derek Matthewson fumbled the ball in the end zone. Senior safety Tate Omli picked up the ball for the score.

Pruitt scored with 4:05 left in the third quarter on a 6-yard pass to give SIU its first score of the game.

Pruitt scored again in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard pass from Iannotti. The touchdown catch moved Pruitt into second on the single-season touchdown reception list at SIU.

Iannotti scored on a 1-yard run with 1:04 left to play to make the final score 40-21.

SIU will play its final game of the season against Illinois State at 1 p.m. Saturday in Bloomington.