by Claire Patri
Well, the SIU Salukis have won there first home game of the 2016 year! This is a groundbreaking accomplishment for Head Coach Nick Hill out of Du Quoin, Illinois. He as a Southern Illinois University alum and past quarter back for the Salukis can now say he was worth bringing on to the SIU athletic department in football. I guess his playing experience leading the conference in passing yards-per-game with 2226.8, total offense with 252.3 and ranked second in passing efficiency (167.1) during his heyday has been translated into coaching skill while the Salukis took Southeast Missouri University 30-22 Saturday September 10th at Salukis Stadium. Overall, this home opening victory against SEMO gave attendance of 10,003 Salukis fans a great show up match between Hill and SEMO Head Coach Tom Matukewicz.
Sophomore Da’Quan Isom spilled through tackles due to his willingness and strength as Hill’s star running back. Senior Israel Lamprakes throw a little wide for Isom to catch, but also shows his heart as Hill’s star wide receiver. The first half started with a fumble by SEMO while they blew right past the Southern offensive line with their strong defense. This was a reoccurring situation of fumbles and penalties between SEMO 1494 and SIU 892 overall when the game was over. Fumble two out of SEMO fumbles lost 21 and 10 SIU, was intercepted by SIU number 83 Redshirt Freshmen Jacob Varble out of Jerseyville, ILL. With 7:31secs left in the first quarter the Salukis were not on the score board at 03 SEMO. Ending the first quarter with Hill giving a youthful sprint down the field when there were not enough of his defenders on the field to begin the final play, getting the attention of the referee at 39 SEMO leading.
Senior wide receiver Billy Reed out of Lockport, ILL also ended the first half with a incomplete to Wide receiver Sophomore Jimmy Jones with two defenders in front of him before SEMO tackle with 3 minutes left on the clock. Going into the second quarter the Salukis kept shooting themselves in the foot with incomplete and penalties. Remarkably, Sophomore Wide receiver Darrell James out of Fort Worth, Texas produced a great play, losing his shoe in the process but kept running for yardage coverage. Hill also liked as it seemed to tell Salukis to get in the pistol formation second and eight with 14:30secs left in the second quarter. There was also a touchdown by Sophomore runner back Jonathan Mixon. Another reoccurring situation was Hill’s use of the shotgun formation as seen in the second quarter at 8:35secs ending with a flag on the play by Junior Corner back Ryan Neal who was holding the arm of SEMO with a pass interference penalty. SEMO kept eyeing the SIU running back for example in the back field =, but not exactly paying attention to their false starts backing them up 5 yards as Salukis gained momentum.
Senior quarterback Josh Straughan gave SIU their first touchdown in the beginning of the third quarter with Junior wide receiver Conner Iwema turning the game around at 179 SIU leading. Surprisingly, a possible injury by SIU with Kyle Newquist out of Elgin, ILL who was in grave pain but was able to walk it off. Then back to back SEMO holding penalty by Freshmen corner back Jamers Ceasar, the SIU roughing the passer penalty by Sophomore outside linebacker Withney Simon, who also feared a possible injury at the 32nd yard line but was able to limp it off. But tremendously, Ceasar pulled through a fantastic highlight for SEMO v. SIU game with a touchdown. There was also a forced touchdown by Iwema who took the game into overtime. After this remarkable touchdown by Ceasar, Senior wide receiver Israel Lamprakes dived for the ball resulting in a possible injury and Sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Jones attempt at what would’ve been SIU third touchdown.
Ultimately, going into the fourth quarter SEMO gains their first touchdown by star player Freshmen wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson out of Memphis, Tenn. while the score stands 27-15 SIU leading. I felt like the Southeast Missouri offense was beginning to feel a little frustrated because they kept false starting gaining them no points on the score board but more penalties. Hill manipulating the I formation for his players, Jones could have had a possible touchdown but James dropped the ball first and goal in the fourth, ending the play with a time out called by Hill. When both strong SIU defenders and strong SEMO offenders came back to make a play, there was a huge sack by Redhawk Senior wide receiver D.J. Foster.
At the SIU Press Conference, Hill addressed what he was proud of despite a close game. How well do you play in the red zone and can you make them kick field goals over and over again was what Coach Hill asked his defense who he said did a great job getting a take away. Coach Hill said precisely, “Everything feels good when you win a football game, close or not close”.