John Lantz had a career-high 139 receiving yards and also threw a touchdown pass Saturday.
Nov. 9, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois’ hopes of making the playoffs likely ended with a 37-27 loss to Missouri State Saturday afternoon at Saluki Stadium. The Salukis (5-4, 3-2) built a 14-0 first quarter advantage before the Bears (4-6, 4-2) took a 21-17 lead in the final five minutes of the first half and held on the rest of the way.
“Right after the game when the clock hit zero, we knew we were out of the playoffs,” receiver John Lantz said. “As a senior it's hard for me because I wanted it bad. I know the team wanted it bad because we worked hard all year.”
The Salukis cut the deficit to 31-27 midway through the fourth quarter on Malcolm Agnew’s one-yard touchdown run, which was set up by a 37-yard completion to Lantz. SIU elected not to attempt a two-point conversion that could’ve cut the lead to three.
Following an MSU punt, the Salukis took over at their own nine-yardline with just under six minutes to play. When the drive stalled at fourth-and-4 on the 26-yardline, SIU ran a fake punt. Punter Austin Pucylowski nearly completed a pass to linebacker Tyler Williamson that would’ve kept the drive alive, but it was broken up by Jeremiah Plowden.
“(SIU) came out with trick plays in the beginning of the game, and you knew they were probably going to try something,” MSU coach Terry Allen said. “But it was a nice job by Plowden there. We reacted to it.”
Missouri State tacked on six more points and put the game out of reach when quarterback Austin Glaser scored on a one-yard plunge to extend the lead to 10 with two minutes left on the clock. Bryan Presume blocked the extra point attempt. Glaser also threw for 310 yards and two more touchdowns in the game.
Southern controlled the momentum early when Tay Willis returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. SIU followed that up with its longest drive of the season, a 97-yard drive that ended with Lantz completing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Josh Sullivan.
However, Missouri State responded to outscore SIU 17-3 in the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter with SIU up 14-7 and on the verge of extending its lead back to two touchdowns, Ryan West threw an interception in the end zone.
“We’ve usually gone to the flat to (fullbacks) Rik Hicks or Ray Agnew (on that play),” Lennon said. “We felt that was the throw that was open again, but this goes back to the fundamentals of football. You have to trust your reads and your keys. I think we were anticipating that throw, and it just wasn’t there. The experience factor showed up on that play.”
MSU quickly marched down the field to tie the game at 14-14 with quarterback Kierra Harris’ 46-yard touchdown run.
Later in the quarter Ashton Glaser threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to LeMarcus Stewart to give MSU a 21-17 lead. Saluki linebacker Carl Bivens had a clear shot at Glaser for a sack, but Glaser withstood the hit and fired the ball to Stewart.
Big plays played a big role for the Bears’ offense. Missouri State executed three plays that gained 40 yards or more. Two of those plays came in the second quarter.
“It just comes down to fundamental football; blocking, tackling and doing your assignments so you’re in position not to give up big plays,” Lennon said. “We gave up way too many big plays and easy scores.”
SIU’s defense allowed 510 yards of total offense, their second highest total of the season. The Bears were helped by a few costly penalties and missed tackles.
“I was disappointed with our fundamentals,” Lennon said. “The things we are normally good at we failed at, especially defensively. We have to be better than what we were that first half. Any time you give up 348 yards in a half there are some problems.”