Redbirds Drop Season-Finale at Southern Illinois, 24-17
Nov. 16, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois (6-5, 4-3 MVFC) rallied with 14 un-answered second half points to defeat Illinois State (5-6, 4-4 MVFC), 24-17, Saturday afternoon at Saluki Stadium.
The Redbirds struggled offensively, tallying just 268 total yards with three turnovers. Blake Winkler finished 9-for-21 for 110 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Seniors Milton Colbert and Phil Dudley each had three receptions and Colbert paced the receivers with a career-high 70 receiving yards.
Defensively, Pat Meehan tallied a career-best 15 tackles and added a half of a sack. Colton Underwood finished his storied Redbird career with a 3.5 tackle-for-loss effort, which tied a career-best, and added three pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Dontae McCoy also added the second defensive touchdown of the season, when he returned an interception for a touchdown and collected nine tackles in the defeat.
Southern Illinois received the opening kickoff and used a 45-yard return to open their first offensive drive near midfield. After a quick first down, Underwood dropped running back Tay Willis for an eight-yard loss. Two plays later, McCoy secured his first-career interception and returned in 64 yards for a touchdown, giving Illinois State a 7-0 lead with 12:44 to play in the first quarter. It marked the second defensive touchdown this season for Illinois State, in addition to Tevin Allen's returned a fumble for a score earlier this season versus Northern Iowa.
The Salukis responded with a 36-yard field goal to cut the Redbird lead to 7-3 with 9:47 left in the opening frame. On the ensuing ISU possession, Winkler fired an off-balance pass in an effort to avoid being sacked, but it was intercepted by D.J. Cameron and returned to the ISU 16-yard line. Three plays later, SIU quarterback Ryan West fired a pass to a slanting LaSteven McKinney who raced into the end zone for a score, putting the Salukis on top 10-7 with 7:26 to go in the first half.
Following an ISU punt, the Redbird defense came up with its second takeaway of the game. With SIU facing second and six from its own 14-yard line, Underwood tallied his second forced fumble of the season, stripping the ball from Saluki running back Ken Malcome. Rickey Simpson recovered the fumble and kicker Nick Aussieker drilled a 33-yard field goal to tie the game, 10-10, with 1:53 left in the opening quarter.
The Redbirds re-claimed the lead with a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Winkler completed both pass attempts, including a 14-yard gain to Colbert and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Chick Chatham. The touchdown gave ISU a 17-10 lead going into the break, but would be the final points of the game for the Redbirds.
Southern Illinois marched 94-yards on 12 plays to tie the game 17-17 with 36 seconds to go in the third quarter and tallied the game-winning touchdown seven minutes later. Both scores were on short runs from Malcome. The Redbirds attempted a 37-yard field goal, trailing 24-17, with 5:30 remaining, but Aussieker's attempt was blocked. Southern Illinois then ran out the clock to secure the defeat for Illinois State.
Saturday's loss at Southern Illinois marked the final game for 17 Illinois State seniors, a group that guided Illinois State to the FCS quarterfinals last season for just the second time in school history and four-straight winning seasons from 2009-12.
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