Oct. 6, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Deji Karim's 15-yard touchdown run was the difference in No. 6 Southern Illinois University's (6-0, 2-0) thrilling 24-17 win over No. 10 Youngstown State (4-2, 1-1) earlier today in front of a crowd of 13,188 at McAndrew Stadium.
With the win, SIU remained undefeated at 7-0 in Homecoming games under head coach Jerry Kill.
"It was a tremendous football game and a back-and-forth chess match between coaches," said Kill. "I thought we did a great job of handling ourselves and sticking to the gameplan."
Tied 17-17, late in the fourth quarter, SIU forced the Penguins to punt and started its final drive of the game at its own 13.
Another big pass, this time a 9-yard completion to Justin Allen kept the Salukis moving.
Karim then took over the rest of the way, gaining nine yards on the ensuing play before scoring the game-winning TD with 1:50 left.
With one last chance, YSU managed to get to the Saluki 41-yard line, but Tom Zetts threw back-to-back incompletions on the final two plays of the game.
Zetts' Hail Mary on a 3rd-and-4 was knocked down by Mary Rodgers in the end zone, securing the 24-17 win, as the Penguins were out of timeouts prior to the two passes.
"I was worried on that last play," said Kill. "It was a good throw. I didn't stop worrying until I saw all zeros on the clock."
YSU took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter when Brian Palmer connected on a 42-yard field goal (13:49) and Ferlando Williams scored on a 12-yard run (5:40).
SIU pulled ahead with six minutes left in the third quarter when Allen hauled in a 14-yard pass from Hill, but the Penguins answered when Williams plunged into the end zone from three yards out to knot the game at 17-17 with 11:32 left to play in the game.
Defensively, SIU's Brandin Jordan intercepted a pass from Zetts, which later led to a Saluki field goal attempt on the Salukis' second-to-last drive of the game.
Dougherty, however, missed from 39 yards out.
Chauncey Mixon also had a huge sack during the Penguins' last march.
YSU hadn't been held to under 23 points in each of its last four games.
"I'm thrilled that we held a team like YSU to 17 points," said Kill. "We made some big plays when we needed to."
Offensively, the Salukis finished with 372 yards of total offense.
Hill completed 13-of-20 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries.
Randle led the rushing attack, carrying the ball 16 times for 123 yards and one TD.
Meanwhile, Evans caught six passes for 93 yards to lead the Saluki receiving corps.
"I felt like I needed to step up and make some big plays," said Evans. "We have a lot of depth and it feels good to make things happen as a true freshman."
SIU became the seventh team in Gateway history to start a season at 6-0. The 6-0 start is the second-best under Kill, trailing the Salukis' 10-0 start in 2003.
SIU heads to nationally-ranked Northern Iowa for a huge Gateway matchup on Oct. 13.
Game Notes: Nick Hill saw his streak of consecutive passes thrown without an interception end at 139 attempts when he was picked off early in the fourth quarter...YSU lost for the third-straight time against SIU at McAndrew Stadium...John Randle rushed for over 100 yards for the third time this season...Craig Turner left the game due to a bruised bicep, but returned in the fourth quarter...Brandin Jordan's interception marked SIU's league-leading 12th of the season.