Southern wins first home game since 2017

By Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter

Freshman running back Javon Williams Jr. helped lead Southern to a 28-14 win over UT Martin, as he totaled 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

The win marked the first home win since Oct. 14 of 2017 when they defeated Illinois State 42-7.

On family weekend, the Salukis hosted UT Martin (1-2) for the first home game of the year for SIU. 

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The last time they met was a playoff game dating back to 2006 when SIU defeated the Skyhawks 36-30 in the first round. 

SIU(2-1) had the Skyhawks third and goal after a high snap but a face mask penalty by SIU gave the Skyhawks an automatic first down. The Skyhawks then scored a touchdown to take the early lead 7-0 with 8:36 left in the first quarter.

A 32-yard reception by senior wide receiver Jaylon Moore helped UT Martin take a 14-0 lead after a three yard touchdown by junior running back Peyton Logan with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.

Sophomore quarterback Stone Labanowitz injured his shoulder on Southern’s first drive of the game, and backup quarterback junior Kare Lyles entered the game.

On SIU’s first possession with Lyles under center, UT Martin intercepted the pass on their own 41 yard line. 

Lyles said he was prepared to step up in Labanowitz’s place after the injury, and that he believes in this group around him.

“I mean it’s a surreal feeling right now, and I think that you know it just shows what type of team this is. I believe that this is a very special group,” Lyles said. “I think that they gave it they made it real easy for me, and they made it to the point where I’m comfortable having that first throw an interception my mistake, but I believe that when I got on the sideline I still felt trusted.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Skyhawks held a 14-0 lead, and Lyles was still in as quarterback.

On the Skyhawks first drive of the second quarter, they committed a fumble ,but they were able to recover it in a third and long situation. The SIU defense held them from getting a first down.

Starting from their own three yard line, SIU went on a 96-yard scoring drive mostly due to freshman running back Javon Williams Jr. as he totaled for 53 rushing yards in the drive ending in a touchdown to make it 14-7 with UT Martin in the lead.

Williams said he thinks that he can keep the motivation going into next week. 

“We’ll be able to keep it going” Williams said. “We’ll be able to keep it going we just keep this same attitude and we keep this humble attitude and tomorrow we will be ready to work again the win is behind us and it is time for us to get another victory. 

After the SIU touchdown, the Skyhawks fumbled the ball, and SIU recovered it putting them at the UT Martin 45 yard line. 

On a fourth and one, Javon Williams scored a 25-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 14 with 3:22 left in the half.

Because of two defensive pass interferences, SIU scored on their first drive of the second half with a 26-yard touchdown by senior running back D.J. Davis as Southern took their first lead of the game 21-14.

Davis said it isn’t hard for him to be patient.

“Not really” Davis said. “We have to be slow getting to the line and pressing the line of scrimmage.”

A 21-yard rush by sophomore wide receiver Avante Cox put the Salukis on UT Martins 25 yard line, and he ended the SIU drive with a touchdown as the Dawgs put up 28 unanswered points to lead 28-14 over the Skyhawks.

“We have a lot of good players on this offense” head coach Nick Hill said. “We have a lot of good players on this offense and we got an experienced offensive line we got some depth.I feel like we have a team like that we just gotta mix things up and use our personnel the best way we can.

SIU was threatening at the end of the third quarter, but a 15-yard penalty resulted in a turnover on downs and SIU entered the fourth quarter with a 14 point lead.

On UT Martin’s first possession of the fourth quarter, a sack by sophomore defensive tackle Keenan Agnew set up a third and 18 for the Skyhawks, which they were unable to convert. 

After the game, junior safety Joe Patterson said they turned the switch in the second quarter.

“We kept focusing on how to put them on difficult situations on first and second down” Patterson said. “Once we started limiting the explosive plays on third down, we kept focusing hard on first and second down to put them in difficult situations on third down the game on defense turned around for us really.”

The Skyhawks then had a fumble that was challenged and after the video review the the ball stayed with UT Martin.

 Two plays later, the Skyhawks threw an interception on third down and seven, which was recovered by senior safety Jeremy Chinn as UT Martin was trying to cut the SIU lead to one touchdown.

SIU won the game 28-14, both on offense and defense, as the defense held UT Martin scoreless on eight consecutive drives.

SIU will travel to play their second FBS opponent of the season at Arkansas State next Saturday with kickoff set for 6 p.m.

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

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