Southern bests first FBS team since 2007

By Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter

Javon Williams Jr. a native of Centralia, Illinois led the offensive attack for Southern with three touchdowns and 173 yards, leading SIU to a 45-20 upset over Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Massachusetts.

The Salukis were looking to avenge their loss to SEMO last week in their matchup against UMASS.

The win by SIU marked the first win over a school in the Football Bowl Subdivision for Southern since 2007 when they beat Northern Illinois.

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On their first drive of the game, the Minutemen drove the football to the Salukis’ 11-yard line, but the drive ended with a turnover on downs.

Thanks to an 18-yard punt by the Salukis, the Minutemen scored on a quarterback run by senior  Randall West on a nine play, 25 yard drive with 7:38 in the first quarter. They missed the extra point but took an early 6-0 lead.

On the first play of scrimmage, in the second quarter, the Salukis took a 7-6 lead on an 85-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Stone Labanowitz to freshman running back Javon Williams Jr. with 14:34 in the second quarter.

The 85 yard pass was the longest touchdown catch by a running back in SIU history.

Junior defensive end Chucky Sullivan recorded the Salukis’ first sack of the year on the next drive by the Minutemen.

On fourth down UMASS elected to punt the ball to give the Salukis a longer field but a short punt by sophomore punter George Georgeopolous of the Minutemen , allowed for good field position by Southern and ended with a 39-yard field goal by freshman kicker Griffin Cerra with 3:19 left in the half.

UMASS went on an eight-play, 65-yard drive with 1:26 left until halftime to take the lead again at 13-10. 

With 8 seconds left until halftime, Labonowitz threw a 32-yard pass to senior running back D. J. Davis to retake the lead 17-13, which would be the halftime score.

On the second play from scrimmage after halftime, Davis fumbled the football with 14:16 in the third quarter.

On the next drive for UMASS, the Salukis got the ball back after an interception by senior safety Jeremy Chinn with 12:01 left in the third quarter. Chinn returned the ball 33 yards putting SIU at their own 41 yard line.

A false start penalty pushed the Dawgs back but on the next play, Williams burst through a hole and scored a touchdown on a 64-yard run with just under 12 minutes left in the third.

On the next Minutemen drive, SIU got another turnover when senior cornerback Madre Harper intercepted a pass. Harper took it all the way to the Minutemen 25 yard line with 10:27 left in the third quarter.

Williams scored his third touchdown of the night to make it a 31-13 lead with 7:25 left in the third quarter.

Williams finished the night with three touchdowns and 173 yards.

After the Saluki defense forced a three and out, Labanowitz threw a 13-yard pass to senior tight end Nigel Kilby to take a 38-13 lead. 

Freshmen running back Romeir Elliot scored his first ever touchdown on a nine play drive. Elliot scored from the three yard line on a Labonowitz pass to make it 45-13 Salukis.

Labanowitz threw four touchdowns and 265 yards in the victory. 

Junior quarterback Andrew Brito of the Minutemen threw for a touchdown to junior tight end Taylor Edwards to stop the scoring run by SIU to make it 45-20.

They especially played strongly in the second half, outscoring UMASS 28-7.

The Salukis (1-1) will play their first home game on Saturday against Tennessee Martin with kickoff set for 6 p.m. at Saluki Stadium.

Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter, can be reached at [email protected]

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