Spirits run high at second fall scrimmage

    LaSteven McKinney took the scrimmage's opening play 25 yards for a touchdown.

    LaSteven McKinney took the scrimmage's opening play 25 yards for a touchdown.
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    Aug. 16, 2014

    By John Lock

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University football program conducted its second and final fall scrimmage on a rainy Saturday morning. The team ran through a multitude of situations, starting with red zone offense and progressing through four-minute offense and two-minute offense.

    "The first 50 plays, every play was a situation," head coach Dale Lennon said. "The intensity was good. Even at the end, when we gave some of the young guys a chance to play and show their stuff, that's exactly what they did. They had a great time. The sidelines were excited. With the rain coming down, that just added to the football factor. It felt like Saturday playing football."

    The Saluki offense started the scrimmage with a bang. LaSteven McKinney took the opening handoff on a jet sweep and took it 25 yards for a touchdown. The second-team offense didn't take much more time; Ryan West threw a 3rd-and-goal fade to Connor Iwema for another touchdown on the scrimmage's second drive.

    "As the head coach, this is the type of scrimmage you want to see. There was a great give and take," Lennon said. "As the defensive coordinator, you can't start a scrimmage off that way. We gave up a big play for a touchdown; that's unacceptable. It's the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde thing again. It was good to see how our guys responded."

    The scrimmage's first six drives worked on red zone offense, with the ball spotted at the defense's 25-yard line. After the opening two touchdowns, Southern's defense forced four-straight field goal attempts. Chase Allen recorded two tackles and a pass breakup to end the third drive after three plays, and Thomas Kinney banged through a 36-yard field goal. Kinney also made a 45-yarder with plenty of room to spare on the fifth drive. Khari Waithe-Alexander and Adam Brandt both made big plays to stop drives and force field goals.



    The Salukis opened focusing on the running game, with 23 of the first 30 plays going as rushes. Malcolm Agnew, already cemented as the team's top running back, did not dress, and backup Mika'il McCall only recorded five rushing attempts. Cameron Walter got the bulk of the carries for the Salukis, finishing with 64 yards on 17 carries.

    After transitioning to the four-minute and two-minute offenses, the Salukis opened up the passing game. Starter Mark Iannotti went 5-for-10 with 97 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan West went 5-for-11 with 58 yards and a touchdown.

    Both the first- and second-team offenses moved the ball well throughout the scrimmage. Iannotti's best moments came facing fourth down situations. In a 4th-and-4, Iannotti hit Jimmy Jones for a 20-yard gain and Kyle Newquist for a 20-yard touchdown on the very next play. In his final action, Iannotti was given 45 seconds to navigate 65 yards. A Brandt sack put the Salukis behind the sticks and eventually led to a 4th-and-11 situation. Iannotti hit Billy Reed on the sideline to convert the first-down and set up a field goal attempt.

    The scrimmage closed with the third- and fouth-stringers facing off. After a pair of three-and-outs, Sam Straub went downfield to Shawn Mitchell on back-to-back plays; the first forced a pass interference, and the second went for a 39-yard touchdown on the exact same play. Matt DeSomer reversed field on his first play for a big rushing gain, and the defense applied a slew of big hits that got both sidelines excited.

    "There are things we have to work on, offensively and defensively, especially defensively, but overall we came out pretty healthy," Lennon said. "Now, we have that first game in sight."

    The Salukis open the season on Thursday, August 28, against Taylor at 7 p.m. in Saluki Stadium.

    Mark Iannotti - 5-10, 97 yds, 1 TD
    Ryan West - 5-11, 58 yds, 1 TD
    Sam Straub - 2-3, 47 yds, 1 TD
    Matt DeSomer - 0-2, 0 yds

    Cameron Walter - 17 att, 64 yds
    Matt DeSomer - 2 att, 27 yds
    LaSteven McKinney - 1 att, 25 yds, 1 TD
    Phillip Frangello - 3 att, 11 yds
    Mark Iannotti - 1 att, 9 yds
    Tanner Smith - 4 att, 7 yds
    Mika'il McCall - 5 att, 3 yds
    Ryan West - 1 att, 2 yds
    Sam Straub - 1 att, -6 yds

    Shawn Mitchell - 2 rec, 48 yds, 1 TD
    Jimmy Jones - 2 rec, 32 yds
    Billy Reed - 1 rec, 31 yds
    Kyle Newquist - 2 rec, 27 yds, 1 TD
    Connor Iwema - 2 rec, 21 yds, 1 TD
    LaSteven McKinney - 1 rec, 19 yds
    Israel Lamprakes - 1 rec, 18 yds
    Cameron Walter - 1 rec, 7 yds

    Hurries: 6
    PBU: 3
    D.J. Cameron 6 Tackles-TFL: 1-3 yards
    Adam Brandt 4 Tackles-Sacks: 2-14 yards
    TJ Beelen 4 Tackles
    Chase Allen 3 Tackles
    Blake Mattson 3 Tackles
    Jory Cunningham 3 Tackles
    Darius Merriweather 3 Tackles
    Dinnus Harding 3 Tackles
    Victor Burnett 3 Tackles
    Tori Millender 3 Tackles
    Anthony Thompson 2 Tackles
    Lamonte Edwards 2 Tackles-TFL: 1-1 yard
    Tyler Williamson 2 Tackles
    Kenny James 2 Tackles
    Brandon Willingham 2 Tackles
    Octavion Cooper 2 Tackles
    Dakota Upchurch 2 Tackles
    Jaylon Graham 2 Tackles
    Ryan Neal 1 Tackle
    Brandon Williams 1 Tackle
    Khari Waithe-Alexander 1 Tackle
    Markese Jackson 1 Tackle
    Conner Mayweather 1 Tackle
    Courtney Richmond 1 Tackle
    Kevin Holmes 1 Tackle
    Charlie Harris 1 Tackle