SIU falls to SEMO during War of the Wheel rivalry game

By Adam Warfel, Sports Reporter

The SIU football team lost 48-44 to the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks Saturday night at Saluki Stadium in the annual War of the Wheel Rivalry game.

Southern’s record in the series between the two teams is (37-40-8).

“SEMO out-executed us, outplayed us and deserved to win the football game,” head coach Nick Hill said.


SIU came into the game looking to rebound from the loss against Ole Miss last week.

On SIU’s first drive of the game, senior quarterback Sam Straub’s pass was intercepted by Junior defensive back  DJ Freeman of the Redhawks.

On the Salukis second drive, Straub rushed for 20 yards putting them in the red zone.

From there SIU struck first with a field goal putting them on top 3-0.

Sophomore outside linebacker Bryce Notree picked off the SEMO pass returning it 27 yards to the Redhawks 13 yard line. Notree finished with 9 tackles and two sacks

Straub dived for the pylon recording the first touchdown of the day for a 10-0 Southern lead.

Straub finished with 338 yards on 27 of 43 passing with 3 interceptions.


SEMO responded with a nine-play 84-yard drive capped off by a touchdown pass to cut the SIU lead down 10-7.

The Redhawks scored on a 74 yard run on the first play of their next possession to take a 14-10 lead.

At the end of the first quarter, Southeast Missouri State led 14-10. On Southern’s first possession of the second quarter, Straub threw his third interception of the game giving the ball back to SEMO.

Junior running back DJ Davis capped off a 64-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown giving the Dawgs the lead 17-14.

Davis finished with 174 rushing yards.

SIU later added on to their lead with a field goal 20-14.

The Redhawks responded with a 29-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the half to cut the Saluki lead down to 20-17.

On the opening kickoff of the second half Southern fumbled the ball, which led to a SEMO touchdown giving them the lead 24-20.

Straub orchestrated a 13 play drive which resulted in Davis’s second rushing touchdown of the day putting the Dawgs back on top 27-24.

The Redhawks responded with their own 77-yard drive finishing with senior running back Marquis Terry’s third rushing touchdown of the game giving the lead to SEMO 31-27.

The Saluki defense limited Southeast Missouri State to a field goal after SIU’s first punt of the game extending the SEMO lead to 34-27.

A toss that ended out of bounds resulted in a Dawgs field goal, SEMO still led 34-30.

The Salukis responded with an 8-yard pass to senior wide receiver Raphael Leonard resulting in a touchdown and SIU retaking the lead 37-34.

Straub seemed to have a chemistry with Leonard for the big plays and Leonard said he and Straub have worked extensively with Straub this season to win the one on one battles.

Leonard grabbed 11 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a regional rivalry we wanted to win, it didn’t turn out that way they made more plays than us,” Leonard said.

Terry punched the ball in late in the fourth quarter to put the Redhawks back ahead 41-37.

Terry finished with an Ohio Valley Conference record 311 rushing yards.

Straub completes a pass to Leonard with just under two minutes remaining putting SIU ahead 44-41.

A 14-yard touchdown pass gives SEMO the lead 48-44 with 25 seconds left.

Southern’s offense finished with 547 yards on 27 completions with two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

SIU will be back in the stadium for family weekend next Saturday at 6 p.m. facing South Dakota.

Sports reporter Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected].

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