SEMO defense stifles Southern in football opener

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

SIU fell 44-26 to SEMO in the War of the Wheel game, with the SEMO offense putting up 529 yards  against the Salukis.

Southern (0-1) came into the game looking to avenge their loss from last season to the Redhawks where a touchdown with 25 seconds left gave SEMO (1-0) the 48-44 win.

The rivalry between the two teams dates back to 1909 with last year’s game being the first game where a wheel was given as a trophy to the winning team.


After limiting the Redhawks to only 11 yards, the Salukis marched down the field for 66 yards and 10 plays freshman running back Javon Williams punched it in from the one yard line and freshman kicker Griffin Cerra made the extra point attempt to put the Salukis ahead 7-0.

SEMO got the ball back and gained one first down on a rushing play a holding penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty ended the Redhawks drive. 

Once the Dawgs got the ball back, they made it down to the redzone, but a pass by sophomore quarterback Stone Labanowitz was tipped and intercepted.

The defense of the Salukis forced a three and out on the Redhawks. After receiving the ball, senior running back DJ Davis ran the ball for seven yards ending the first quarter with Southern up 7-0.

Davis finished with 125 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

Labanowitz passed to senior tight end Nigel Kilby for what would have been another touchdown, but it was erased after a penalty for illegal formation was called.

SEMO put their first score on the board with a 30 yard pass and a 33 yard pass, going for 85 yards and a quarterback keeper by senior quarterback Daniel Santcaterina to knot the game up at 7-7.


Southern responded quickly with a touchdown of their own going 75 yards with nine plays, Davis punched it in for a 16 yard rushing touchdown to end the drive and put SIU up 14-7 after the extra point attempt.

SEMO answered back with a touchdown needing only four plays totaling 65 yards and the extra point attempt was blocked maintaining the SIU lead 14-13 with 4:30 left in the first half.

A 36 yard return put the Redhawks in good field position, which they turned into a touchdown in four plays to pull ahead 20-14. This would be the halftime score.

SIU did not score on their opening drive of the second half, but SEMO tacked on three more points with a 22 yard field goal to extend their lead to 23-14.

Santacaterina rushed for nine yards but a penalty was called on the next play, he ran it in for a touchdown to extend SEMO’s lead to 30-14.

Santacaterina finished with 248 passing yards to go along with 54 rushing yards.

The Redhawk defense stifled Southern with a third consecutive three and out, which Santacaterina turned his chance into a 47 yard pass, and an 18 yard touchdown to push the lead out to 37-14.

The Dawgs were driving to end the third quarter ending it on the SEMO 29 yard line

SIU answered with their first points of the second half in the fourth quarter with a two yard rushing touchdown by Davis, they then attempted a two point conversion but failed as SEMO still lead 37-20.

SEMO needed eight plays for 75 yards as they were approaching the 500 yard mark with 491 after they hung another touchdown to extend their lead to 44-20.

An eight play 76 yard drive, including a 33 yard pass to senior tight end Nigel Kilby ended with a four yard rushing touchdown by freshman running back Romier Elliott.

Kilby finished with 49 yards and two catches.

SIU attempted a two point conversion after the touchdown but failed to convert as they still trailed 44-26 with 5:20 left in the game.

Southern (0-1) fell 44-26 to SEMO as the Redhawks retained the wheel for the second year in a row.

SIU will be back in action next week at the University of Massachusetts with kickoff at 2:30 p.m.

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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