SIU defeats Missouri State 32-22

By Tony McDaniel

SIU kept its playoff hopes alive with its first win in three games.

The Salukis defeated Missouri State 32-22 thanks to a fast-paced offense and a strong performance from freshman running back Cameron Walter.

Walter carried the ball 37 times for 210 yards in his first career start, becoming the first Saluki to rush for more than 200 yards in a game since Deji Karim ran for 210 yards against Southwest Baptist University on Sept. 19, 2009.

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Walter got the start in light of the injured senior running back Malcolm Agnew and senior running back Mika’il McCall, who did not travel to the game at Missouri State.

Sophomore quarterback Ryan West made his first start of the season for SIU and finished the game with 3 touchdown passes.

Senior Tay Willis caught eight passes for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.

SIU opened the scoring on the first drive of the game when the Salukis attempted a fake field goal.

Junior quarterback Mark Iannotti was the holder on the kick, he picked up the ball and lobbed a pass to senior tight end MyCole Pruitt. Pruitt was wide open to give SIU the touchdown.

The Salukis faked the point after attempt after the fake field goal as well. Iannotti tossed the ball to senior long snapper Thor Hadfield to convert the 2 point attempt and give the Salukis an early 8-0 lead.

West passed to Willis with 37 seconds left in the first half to put the Salukis out front going into the break. The touchdown capped off a nine-play 62-yard drive.

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The Salukis led the Bears 22-16 at halftime.

Missouri State tied the game at 22 with 2 field goals in the third quarter. The Salukis only mustered 35 yards of total offense in the third quarter.

West found Willis for a 36-yard strike immediately following an interception by junior cornerback Brandon Willingham a minute into the fourth quarter. The Salukis never relinquished the lead.

A 47-yard field goal by senior Thomas Kinney brought the score to 32-22 with 2:42 remaining. Missouri State turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, and SIU ran the clock out for its first win since Oct. 4.

Missouri State’s LeMarcus Stewart blocked a punt from freshman Nick Neidig to allow the Bears to score. It was the first blocked punt the Salukis have allowed since 2010.

Thomas Donley contributed to this story.

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