MyCole Pruitt caught eight passes for 98 yards and became SIU's all-time leading receiving tight end with 105 career receptions.
Sep 7, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. – In a game in which the two teams combined to miss five field goals, No. 14/16 Eastern Illinois edged Southern Illinois with a game-ending field goal in double-overtime to hand the Salukis a 40-37 loss Saturday night at Saluki Stadium. That ended SIU’s streak of 11-consecutive wins in home openers.
EIU’s Cameron Berra kicked the game-winner from 36 yards. It came after Southern was held scoreless in its second overtime possession when Thomas Kinney missed a 37-yard field goal attempt from nearly the same spot on the field.
“It's heartbreaking,” SIU linebacker Bryan Presume said. “All of the guys put their hearts into the game, and we just fought to the end, but we couldn't get it done.”
Both teams scored from two yards out on their first overtime possession. Eastern’s Taylor Duncan punched the ball into the end zone on the first overtime drive to give the Panthers a 37-30 lead. Kory Faulkner and the Salukis answered with a two-yard touchdown pass to MyCole Pruitt to knot the game at 37-37. It was Faulkner’s fourth touchdown of the game and Pruitt’s second.
SIU Coach Dale Lennon said he considered going for the two-point conversion with a trick play after Pruitt's touchdown but reconsidered.
“I had a call, and then I called a timeout,” Lennon said. “I thought too much about it. Maybe I should have went with my gut instinct, but that’s hindsight. I wanted to give our team a chance. That was the thing I was trying to figure more than anything.”
Southern survived a potential game-winning field goal in regulation when Tyler Williamson blocked Berra’s 20-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
“(The blocked field goal) allowed us to stay alive,” Lennon said. “We talked defensively about fight, bite, scratch, claw or do whatever you have to do to make a play. You can’t fault the effort.”
SIU had overcome a 30-23 deficit to tie the game at 30-30 with 2:19 left in regulation. The Salukis tied the game when Faulkner found John Lantz for a 17-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10 from the EIU 17-yard line.
Faulkner threw for 294 yards without any interceptions, and was one of three Salukis to run for over 50 yards in the game. Malcolm Agnew and Tay Willis ran for 57 and 51 yards, respectively, helping SIU to keep pace with Eastern’s high-powered, no-huddle offense.
EIU’s Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Three of his touchdowns came in the first half as Eastern built a 21-10 lead.
“It's a struggle keeping up with their offense,” Presume said. “They are so up-tempo, the chains weren't even set sometime when they were running the next play. We did better than most teams usually do against them. We just didn't do enough to get the W.”
Although it was a game dominated by big offensive numbers, EIU Coach Dino Babers praised the Saluki defense.
“They are very, very good in the defensive line,” Babers said. “It’s a physical team. It was a physical game. This is a good football team. We’ll probably see them in the playoffs.”