Sept. 27, 2008
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Sophomore placekicker Kyle Dougherty nailed a 40-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give No. 13 Southern Illinois University (2-1, 1-0) a thrilling 27-24 victory over No. 5 Northern Iowa (2-2, 1-1) earlier tonight in front of a crowd of 14,427 at McAndrew Stadium.
SIU ran two plays and called a timeout with one second left before Dougherty's game-winning kick.
"I felt like it was good right when it came off my foot," said Dougherty. "That was the best kick I ever had. It was also the first time I ever had a game-winner."
SIU beat UNI for the sixth-consecutive time at McAndrew Stadium. The Salukis also opened Missouri Valley Football Conference play with a win for the seventh year in a row.
"I tip my hat to Northern Iowa. It was a great game. Our special teams weren't perfect, but we made some key plays that probably won the game for us," said SIU head coach Dale Lennon.
UNI entered the game with a +5 turnover margin, but turned the ball over five times, while forcing only one Saluki turnover. The Panthers lost four fumbles -- two recovered by Jordan and two recovered by Jason Seaman -- and threw one interception.
Larry Warner returned the game's opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to get SIU a quick 7-0 lead. Warner has returned two kickoffs for TDs in three games this season.
The Panthers, however, roared back with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter and tied the game at 24-24 when Grace completed a 1-yard pass to Victor Williams with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
UNI marched all the way to SIU's 1-yardline on its next possession, but Marty Rodgers jarred the ball loose from Corey Lewis and Jordan recovered for the Dawgs.
"The turnovers late in the game were key," said UNI head coach Mark Farley. "We could have won this game by two touchdowns. When we lost that one on the 1-yard line, that was the difference."
SIU moved into UNI territory on just two occasions in the second half and had 49 yards of total offense in the game's final 30 minutes.
UNI outrushed SIU, 242-49 and had 365 yards of total offense to the Salukis' 231.
Dieker completed 10-of-18 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown, while Warner rushed for 48 yards and piled up 224 all-purpose yards.
"That's what we thrive on...to get yards," said Warner. "We feel confident going out there and executing on a short field."
Defensively, Rodgers led the Salukis with nine tackles, while Cloud followed with eight and a game-high two sacks. Cloud also forced two fumbles on the night.
Tonight marked the seventh time that a conference game was decided on the game's final play.
SIU returns to action when it visits preseason conference favorite North Dakota State on Oct. 4.