Salukis defeat Leathernecks 34-17

By Tony McDaniel

SIU football bounced back from its first loss of the season with a victory in the conference opener.

No. 16 SIU (4-1, 1-0) beat Western Illinois University (2-3, 0-1) 34-17 Saturday night thanks to another strong second-half performance. The Salukis outscored the Leathernecks 24-7 in the second half.

For the second straight week the team was led by its All-American tight end, senior MyCole Pruitt. Pruitt had 9 catches for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns.

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In the first half, SIU freshman punter Nick Neidig punted the ball to the WIU one yard-line to back the Leathernecks up to the end zone.

On the following drive Western Illinois drove the ball 99 yards on 11 plays to take a 14-7 lead. Western’s sophomore quarterback Trenton Norvell completed two long passes, including one on third down, to lead Western to the score.

At the end of the first half, Western Illinois held a 14-10 lead.

From there, Southern outscored its conference rival 27-3, outgaining WIU, 228 yards to 143 in the second half.

SIU scored on the first drive of the third quarter after junior quarterback Mark Iannotti threw to Pruitt for a 9-yard touchdown pass. From there, the Salukis were in control for the remainder of the game.

The Salukis put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when Iannotti found Pruitt for a 47-yard touchdown pass. Pruitt broke several tackles on his way to the end zone for his second score of the evening.

Iannotti finished with 24 completions for 272 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.

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Senior running back Mika’il McCall led the Salukis’ rushing attack with 68 yards and a touchdown on just 9 carries.

Senior running back Malcolm Agnew also got into the endzone for his seventh touchdown of the season. He fell short of his season average of 120 yards but gutted out 63 yards on 19 rushes.

The game’s attendance was the fourth-largest ever at Saluki Stadium, with 13,170 on Family Weekend.

The Salukis move to 4-1 on the season and the Leathernecks drop to 2-3. SIU has won five of its last six games and continues conference play next week at home against the University of South Dakota.

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