Sept. 13, 2008
By Jeff Honza
EVANSTON, Ill. - Tyrell Sutton rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns and Northwestern (3-0) scored 27 unanswered points in a commanding 33-7 win over Southern Illinois University (1-1) earlier today at a soggy Ryan Field.
The Wildcats did not allow a point for the last three quarters of the game en route to ending SIU's two-game winning streak against Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly IA) opponents.
"I was disappointed with the way we played," said Saluki head coach Dale Lennon. "We had our chances, especially in the first half. We just didn't do the little things we needed to do to win the game."
Arnado Villarreal made a career-high four field goals, including two in the first quarter, to give NW an early 6-0 lead.
The Salukis, after taking over on downs at their own 40-yardline, faced a 3rd-and-7 when Chris Dieker completed a 38-yard pass to Marc Cheatham. Cheatham made an excellent grab over Wildcat defender Brendan Smith to get SIU a first down at the NW-19.
Larry Warner broke free for a 19-yard touchdown on the ensuing play, giving the Dawgs their only lead (7-6) of the game as time expired in the first quarter.
Sutton's 44-yard touchdown led to 10 more points for the Wildcats in the second quarter. Villarreal's third field goal, this time from 18 yards out, later pushed NW's lead to 16-7 at the half.
SIU trailed at halftime for the first time since November 3, 2007 (9-3, at Western Illinois).
NW continued to pour it on in the second half.
Sutton carried the ball six times on the Wildcats opening drive of the third quarter. His 2-yard touchdown capped a 14-play, 51-yard march, extending NW's lead to 23-7 with 7:25 left to play in the third quarter.
After a strong defensive stand, NW managed to come away with only three points when Villarreal connected on a 20-yard field goal at the 2:01 mark.
Sutton scored his third rushing TD on a 15-yard run to ice the 33-7 win early in the fourth quarter.
NW finished with 333 yards of total offense on the day. C.J. Bacher completed 21-of-29 passes for 184 yards, while Sutton averaged 5.9 yards per rush on 17 carries.
Dieker completed 14-of-22 passes for 115 yards and Warner had 58 yards on 16 rushing attempts for SIU. SIU finished with 263 total yards. The Saluki offense was penalized 10 times for 105 yards, as well.
Defensively, neither team turned the ball over in a steady downpour that lasted all day.
Linebackers Ryan Patton (8), Stephen Franklin (7), Brandin Jordan (6) and Chauncey Mixon (6) led SIU in tackles. The Saluki defense has given up a combined 64 points in its first two games this season.
"We need to look at the game film to find out what things we have to do to get better," said Jordan. "We're just going to keep working hard in practice."
SIU is off next week before opening Missouri Valley Football Conference play against Northern Iowa on Sept. 27. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., CT, at McAndrew Stadium.