Nov. 1, 2008
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Larry Warner rushed for a career-high 256 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead No. 11 Southern Illinois University (6-2) to a 40-21 win over North Dakota (5-3) earlier today on Military Appreciation Day at McAndrew Stadium.
Warner finished with 100 or more rushing yards for the third-straight game. He became SIU's first 200-yard rusher since Arkee Whitlock ran for 207 yards against Tennessee-Martin in 2006. Warner is now sixth all-time in single-game rushing yards at SIU.
"I am able to make big runs because of our offensive linemen. They want the yards just as much as I do," said Warner of his performance. "I am a slasher-type runner and I just try to make things happen on every play."
After UND took its only lead (7-3) of the game on Danny Freund's 24-yard touchdown pass to Grover Blair with 7:39 left in the first quarter, SIU responded with 24 unanswered points.
UND tried to catch the Salukis off-guard with an onside kick immediately following its score, but SIU recovered in excellent field position at the Fighting Sioux 42. Warner ran for 22 yards on consecutive carries to set up Chris Dieker's 20-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Kernes, giving SIU a 10-7 edge.
SIU marched 63 yards in five plays en route to another touchdown on its next possession. A 25-yard run by Warner and 30-yard pass from Dieker to Joe Allaria keyed the drive, which ended on Dieker's 1-yard run with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Kyle Dougherty's 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter lifted the Salukis to a 20-7 advantage at the half.
Both teams combined for 27 points in the fourth quarter, but SIU was too much for the Fighting Sioux to handle.
Sixteen seconds after Freund's 8-yard touchdown pass to Ismael Bamba sliced SIU's lead to 27-14 at the 13:15 mark, Warner took the handoff on the first play of the Salukis' ensuing possession and ran a career-long 75 yards for a touchdown.
UND answered right back, marching 49 yards in six plays to make it a two-possession game for the second time. Freund threw a 21-yard completion to Brady Trenbeath before Josh Murray scored on a 10-yard scamper to pull the Fighting Sioux to within 12 (33-21) with 10:33 on the clock.
Dieker completed two 15-yard passes to help get SIU within striking distance the next time it had the ball. Dieker threw the second of those completions to Bryce Morris on a 4th-and-4, giving the Dawgs a first down at the UND 15. Two plays later, Warner scored on a 10-yard run to give SIU a 40-21 lead with 6:02 left.
UND managed to get to SIU's 38-yardline, but a pair of big plays by the Saluki defense ended all hopes for the Fighting Sioux.
Warner averaged 12.2 yards per carry to lead SIU to a season-high 323 rushing yards. The Salukis also finished with 482 yards of total offense, marking the second-straight game they collected nearly 500 total yards.
Dieker completed 15-of-21 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He also went without being sacked for the second game in a row. Allaria followed with five catches for 57 yards to help lead the Saluki offense, which did not turn the ball over for the second time this season.
"Offensively, I was very pleased with our entire day," said SIU head coach Dale Lennon. "We felt there were some matchups that would be advantageous for us and there were some things we were hoping we'd be able to do. The offensive line really did give our running backs chances to make some big plays."
Lennon faced his former team for the first time as SIU's head coach. He compiled a 90-24 record in nine years, including seven playoff appearances, one National Championship and five North Central Conference titles at UND prior to taking over the Saluki helm.
"It was emotional," he said. "Obviously, I know a lot of these guys. It was good to get this win today."
SIU, which is on a four-game winning streak, continues its three-game homestand when it hosts Western Illinois on Nov. 8.