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Late turnover fuels Saluki home loss at home

Chris Barron
Carbondale Times 

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. 

Short-handed Salukis start hot against Winthrop: SIU turned up the defensive pressure to pull away in 2nd half

Chris Barron
Carbondale Times

SIU has two starters on the mend and only had nine available players for its contest with Winthrop Friday, but the defensive pressure put forth by the Salukis allowed them to pull away in the second half for an 81-66 victory. 

Southern held Winthrop to 30 percent shooting Friday. That was accompanied by 11 steals and four fastbreak opportunities. 

While that was happening, SIU’s Kavion Pippen was bombarding the Eagles with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He also racked up three assists and three blocked shots — and two steals of his own.

“Pippen is an aircraft carrier out there,” Winthrop Head Coach Pat Kelsey said. “And he’s really agile for a kid his size. He’s a big strong presence.” 

After a brief halftime lecture by SIU Head Coach Barry Hinson, the rest of the team responded by defensively flattening the Eagles with steals.

That assault was led by point guard Eric McGill and wing Sean Lloyd. Lloyd led the way with 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. But it was his four steals that disrupted the Eagle offense.

“We just got real stagnant,” Kelsey said. “And that I credit to SIU’s defensive Length.”

The other defensive star of the game was McGill, who used his quickness to steal the ball three possessions in a row, all ending in layups. 

“McGill changed the game in the second half,” Hinson said. “Their guards just couldn’t get around him.”

SIU jumped out to a 11-point lead, which was quickly closed to one point. Then, a Lloyd stole the ball of Eagles star Xavier Cooks and went in for a layup to keep the Dawgs in the lead at half.

“We frustrated Cooks,” Hinson said. “Wiley, especially, sacrificed his Offensive game but helped hold Cooks to just 14 points.”

Others on the injury-weakened roster helped out too. The most important probably was Armon Fletcher. He had 14 points and five rebounds under great duress.

Just three days before last Friday’s game, Fletcher had incurred a dislocated knee and was in some pain playing this past weekend. He soldiered through the ordeal and was one of the keys to the victory. Hinson was ecstatic over the effort of his team.

“I’ve been coaching 36 years and I can say that this is one of the best victories, given the circumstances, that I’ve experienced,” Hinson said.

Next up for the Dawgs is a home game this coming Saturday against Illinois-Springfield at Saluki Arena. The game starts at 7 p.m., and will be broadcast on ESPN 3.

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