A fourth-quarter strip sack Saturday on SIU quarterback Matt DeSomer by Youngstown State defensive end Justus Reed at the 2:44 mark sealed the 28-20 victory at Saluki Stadium for the penguins.
Overall, Southern won the turnover battle, taking the ball away from Youngstown on four different occasions, but it was the last turnover that made the most difference.
It’s hard to blame DeSomer for the loss, since the senior quarterback replaced Tanner Hearn and led the Salukis in most statistically categories. He threw for 81 yards, ran for 140 yards and even had 35 receiving yards.
The lack of receiving yards for the Salukis shows how the offense has changed without Sam Straub at the controls.
“Last week was the first time since a year ago that Matt has attended a quarterback meeting with coaches,” SIU Head Coach Nick Hill said. “So, we can’t do a few things we would have with Straub.”
DeSomer’s running highlighted his athleticism. He put the Dawgs up 7-0 in the first quarter when he burst off the left side on a quarterback draw and outraced the Penguin secondary for a 58-yard touchdown run.
DeSomer also had two other runs of 20-plus yards as he personally kept his team in the game by garnering 255 of SIU’s 288 yards of total offense. He also scored the Dawgs two touchdowns.
As for Youngstown’s offense, quarterback Hunter Wells was just too much for SIU’s Defense. The Dawgs rarely got to him and he responded to the little pressure he got by throwing for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“We did some good things and we battled,” Hill said. “But there are no ‘moral victories.”
It wasn’t just turnovers. After drawing within four points early in the third quarter, the Saluki defense allowed a long drive that ended in a touchdown stretched the Penguin lead to 21-10.
DeSomer came back with a one-yard quarterback sneak late in the third to again make it close. SIU kicker Nico Galdoni also made it a one-point game with a 29-yard chip shot field goal in the fourth.
Youngstown then drove down the field, but missed a 43-yard field goal. However, they chewed up precious clock time during the long drive.
With the ball in SIU’s possession, the stage was set for Reed to make the play of the game.
On the next drive, SIU was about to pick up one first down, but eventually turned the ball over on downs with an incompletion to wideout Connor Iwema on fourth down.
The Salukis will travel to
Macomb next week to take on Western Illinois at 1 p.m.