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