Sept. 11, 2010
By Jason Clay
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - No. 2 Southern Illinois created three turnovers, but were only able to score three points as the Salukis fell 35-3 to Illinois Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
SIU's offense had the ball in the Illini red zone four times, but came away with just three points. The empty drives ended on downs, a fumble and a missed field goal. Southern Illinois falls to 1-1 on the year while Illinois improves to 1-1.
"We're disappointed we didn't put on a better show tonight," head coach Dale Lennon said. "We felt we are capable of doing things better then what we did.
"Our players played hard. It wasn't that the want-to wasn't there, it was just that we made mistakes - made some young mistakes - and that is something that we got to clean up."
The Saluki defense and special teams gave the offense the ball in Illini territory three times, but Southern couldn't capitalize. The Salukis converted just 3-of-16 third-down attempts in the game while the Illini were 8-of-13.
"The main thing is just execution," Lennon said of the red zone struggles. "You look at our third-down conversions, we were just not very good."
Senior kicker Kyle Dougherty tied the school record by making his 50th career field goal. He was 1-for-3 with misses from 38 and a career-long attempt of 56 yards.
Illinois outgained SIU 407-230 and redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaasse threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Illini.
"It's disappointing," Allaria said. "We're going to learn from it and that's what we have to do. We're going to keep fighting - we fought hard tonight - and we are going to put more points on the board."
Illinois jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter behind a pair of big pass plays. Scheelhaasse hit A.J. Jenkins for a 54-yard touchdown five minutes in. Then his 34-yard completion to Evan Wilson set up Mikel Leshoure's one-yard run towards the end of the opening quarter.
Illini wide receiver Eddie McGee threw three passes in the first 25 minutes of the game, and SIU intercepted him twice. McElroy picked off his second one, giving the Salukis the ball on the Illini 20-yard line.
Southern couldn't get into the end zone, but Dougherty's record-tying field goal from 30 yards out gave SIU its first points five minutes before halftime.
Leshoure scored for the second time on an 8-yard rushing touchdown inside of three minutes to give Illinois a 21-3 lead at the half.
SIU came out in the third quarter and went three-and-out, but on the punt, Illini return man Jack Ramsey touched the ball he let drop and James recovered for the Salukis at the Illini 17-yard line.
However, Dieker fumbled while scrambling on a third-and-three at the 10-yard line and SIU came up empty once again in Illinois territory.
The missed opportunity told the story of the night, and Illinois followed with a 10-play, 90-yard drive to up its score to 28-3. Scheelhaasse hit Justin Lattimore on a 33-yard TD pass off a third-and-three.
Southern's offense would get no more and Illini tacked on a rushing touchdown in the fourth to end the scoring.