Oct. 13, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - No. 6 Southern Illinois University (6-1, 2-1) nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback in a 30-24 loss to No. 2 Northern Iowa (6-0, 2-0) earlier today in front of a sellout, standing-room only crowd of 17,074 at the UNI-Dome.
Twenty-five seconds later, Nick Hill was intercepted by Darrell Lloyd at the Panthers' 44-yard.
SIU, however, was not finished, as UNI punted the ball away with nine seconds remaining.
SIU took over on downs with four seconds left. Hill then completed a pass to John Randle, who ran the ball to the UNI 30-yard line before pitching back to Hill.
Hill stepped back to the UNI-33 and threw the ball across the field to Alan Turner. Turner scooped the ball off the turf and ran 27 yards to the Panthers' 6-yard line where he was tackled as time expired.
"From where I was standing, I thought we scored," said head coach Jerry Kill. "We played hard and had our chances. It's tough to win a game when you turn the ball over four times."
SIU lost for the 11th-straight time in Cedar Falls, as the home team has won in each of the last 11 matchups between these teams.
For the first time all year, SIU trailed for 60 minutes. And, the closest the Salukis got to the Panthers was when Hill threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Turner to make it 10-7 with 11:06 left in the second quarter.
SIU went scoreless in the first quarter for the second-straight game, and UNI built a 10-0 lead.
After the Dawgs pulled to within three, UNI went to work again with excellent field position at its 49.
The Panthers marched 35 yards in seven plays before Billy Hallgren split the uprights with a 33-yard field goal to push UNI's lead to 13-7 with 5:18 remaining in the second quarter.
The Panthers then held the Salukis on fourth down and started their next possession at their own 39.
Four plays later, Eric Sanders hit Victor Williams in stride along the far sideline for a 28-yard strike to give UNI a 20-7 advantage.
SIU had a great chance to score just before the half, but Hill was intercepted by Brannon Carter at the UNI 6-yard line.
UNI received the kickoff to start the second half and was forced to punt.
Four plays later, SIU was back in the game.
Hill followed with a 49-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Turner to narrow the gap to 20-14 at the 9:30 mark of the third quarter.
UNI faced a 3rd-and-8 deep in Saluki territory on its next possession, but kept its drive alive when fullback Darian Williams broke a tackle in the flats.
Johnny Gray ran for a 13-yard touchdown on the ensuing play to give the Panthers a 27-14 lead. UNI went 81 yards on nine plays in a span of 4:33 prior to Gray's score.
The Salukis kept battling and used a 28-yard completion from Hill to Turner and 22-yard pass from Hill to Ryan Kernes to get to the UNI-17.
Two plays later the Dawgs fell victim to a controversial call on a 3rd-and-8.
Hill dropped back to pass and was hit by Mark Huygens. Hill was off-balance, but kept his feet and went on to throw a touchdown pass to Kernes. Hill was ruled down on the play and the TD was called back.
Instead, the Salukis came away with three points when Dougherty connected on a 42-yard field goal with 14:12 left to play.
Hill completed nine passes in a row, including a 7-yard touchdown to Allen to cut the lead to 30-24 with 1:57 left.
Combined, there were three 100-plus yard receivers and two 250-plus yard passers between SIU and UNI today.
Hill completed 33-of-45 passes for 436 yards and three TDs. His 436 passing yards were a single-game school record. They also marked a Gateway season-high.
Sanders was 19-of-26 for 253 yards and one TD for UNI.
Receiving wise, Turner caught six passes for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns, while Allen followed with 10 catches for a career-high 107 yards and one TD. It was the first time in 11 years that SIU had two 100-yard receivers in a game.
Gray led the Panthers with nine catches for 117 yards.
Both teams had a difficult time establishing the run. SIU had 70 rushing yards and UNI had 109.
SIU turned the ball over four times, with Hill throwing three interceptions.
"I wish I had a couple of those throws back," said Hill. "I thought we played with a lot of heart and never gave up."
SIU returns home to host Missouri State on Oct. 20.