Nov. 8, 2008
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Korey Lindsey intercepted two passes in the last 1:36, one of which he returned 48 yards for a touchdown, to lead No. 9 Southern Illinois University (7-2, 5-1) to a 24-14 win over No. 17 Western Illinois (5-4, 3-3) earlier today at McAndrew Stadium.
SIU led, 17-14, late in the fourth quarter when Lindsey picked off Matt Barr at the WIU 48 and ran all the way to the end zone. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Lindsey returned an interception for a touchdown for the first time in his career.
"I was just trying to make a big play for the team," said Lindsey. "We needed a stop and we didn't know how we were going to do it. I just saw the opportunity and took it."
Lindsey came up with his second interception on the second play of the Leathernecks final drive to seal the win for the Dawgs.
SIU, which has the MVFC's best defense against the run, went up against the league's top rushing team in WIU. The Saluki defense made a huge statement again, holding the Leathernecks to only 80 rushing yards, while forcing three turnovers on the day.
"It was pretty much what we expected. It was an old fashioned football game, very physical," said SIU head coach Dale Lennon. "We knew it would be a fourth quarter, to-the-end, kind of matchup."
Herb Donaldson, who became WIU's all-time leading rusher, was held to under 100 (99) yards on 28 carries. He had this to say about SIU's defense.
"They are really good up front, move a lot and bring a lot of pressure. They did a good job of keeping their offense on the field and made some big plays."
SIU's defense consistently gave WIU a long field to work with. As a result, the Leathernecks were forced to begin 12 of their 14 drives inside their own 30-yardline. WIU also punted eight times, fumbled once and threw two picks.
SIU scored on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.
Larry Warner took the handoff on the first play of SIU's second drive and ran 56 yards for a touchdown to give the Salukis a 7-0 lead with 9:07 remaining. The touchdown run marked Warner's second of 50 or more yards in as many games.
After forcing WIU to punt, SIU took over at its own 46 and marched 54 yards in eight plays en route to its second touchdown. Chris Dieker's 19-yard pass to Marc Cheatham and 9-yard completion to Joe Allaria helped get the Dawgs to the WIU 11-yardline.
Two plays later, Dieker threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Damian Sherman, extending SIU's lead to 14-0 with 3:22 left. The TD pass was Dieker's 13th of the season, moving him into a three-way tie for 12th in single-season touchdown passes at SIU.
WIU made its way back in the game on its first drive of the second quarter.
SIU faced a 4th-and-1 at the WIU 8, but a false start led to a 29-yard missed field goal by Kyle Dougherty. Dougherty, who saw his streak of nine-straight field goals come to an end, missed for the first time in over a month.
The league's top rusher, Herb Donaldson, then took matters into his own hands on the Leathernecks ensuing possession.
Donaldson carried the ball eight times for 42 yards to key a 13-play, 80-yard drive for WIU. His 6-yard run cut SIU's lead to 14-7 with 7:34 remaining in the second quarter.
SIU maintained its one-touchdown edge at the half. The Salukis have now led at the half in eight of nine games this season.
Dougherty's 21-yard field goal gave SIU its second double-digit lead (17-7) with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
WIU, after recovering a fumble when Dieker was sacked by Teague Dentino, used a 8-yard touchdown pass from Barr to Carl Sims to narrow the gap to 17-14 at the 1:02 mark.
Both teams then went scoreless until Lindsey's touchdown put SIU's win on ice.
SIU finished with 309 yards of total offense, while had 174.
Dieker completed 15-of-29 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, while Warner carried the ball 22 times for 91 yards and a TD to lead the Saluki offense. Warner, who surpassed 1,000 (1,047) rushing yards this season, scored a touchdown in four of his last five games.
SIU, which has won five in a row, concludes its three-game homestand against South Dakota State on Nov. 15. The Saluki seniors will be honored that day.
"I thought this game really had a playoff feel to it," said Lennon. "There were two heavyweights just taking their best shots at each other. You just know there is going to be a play or two that you could look at as really being the difference. That's kind of what happened today."
SIU beat WIU for the seventh-straight time.