Nov. 10, 2007
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Nick Hill threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 84 yards and one TD to lead No. 5 Southern Illinois University (9-1, 5-1) to a 34-24 win over Illinois State (4-7, 2-4) earlier today in the Gateway Conference finale for both teams.
SIU, which continues to make a push for one of the top four seeds in the 2007 Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, fell behind, 9-0, before scoring 14 unanswered points to take a 14-9 lead at the half.
SIU never relinquished its lead after that, putting up 20 more points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, to snap a two-game losing streak against the Redbirds.
"This was a big game for us and I am proud of our team," said Saluki head coach Jerry Kill. "We played hard and I'm happy we were able to get this win for our seniors."
ISU recovered a fumble on the opening drive of the game and later took a 6-0 lead when Rafael Rice scored on a 3-yard run with 10:55 left in the first quarter.
The Redbirds extended their lead to 9-0 on a 37-yard field goal by Steven Fetzer at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter.
SIU, which started slow, pulled to within three points when Hill's 5-yard run capped a 12 play, 69-yard drive with 3:25 remaining in the first half.
SIU forced ISU to punt on the next possession and took over on downs at its own 36-yard line with 2:17 to play.
Hill completed a 33-yard pass to Phil Goforth to get the Dawgs inside the `Birds 20-yard line. Four plays later, the two hooked up again, this time for a 2-yard touchdown, that pushed the Salukis' lead to 14-9 at the intermission.
Kyle Dougherty's 36-yard field goal added to SIU's lead with 7:59 left in the third quarter.
Hill delivered a 3-yard strike to fullback Rick Burgess with 13:34 left.
ISU, after answering with a touchdown to narrow the gap to, 31-17, at the 7:38 mark, recovered an onside kick at its own 43.
However, Drone was picked off again by Johnson, and SIU in turn, responded with a 44-yard field goal by Dougherty with 3:30 left to play. ISU would score one last touchdown, but it wasn't enough, as the Redbirds ended their season on a three-game losing streak.
Hill completed 19-of-25 passes and carried the ball 14 times to key a Saluki offense which racked up 444 yards of total offense, including 259 on the ground.
"I was proud of how we kept after it," said Hill. "I felt like we owed Illinois State. We had some penalties that hurt us early, but kept our poise and made some big plays when we needed to."
Defensively, Trevor Moe recorded 12 tackles and Johnson had two picks to lead SIU.
Drone completed 22-of-36 passes for 222 yards for the Redbirds.
SIU concludes its regular-season at Hampton on Nov. 17.