Redhawks win first home game of the season in fourth quarter
The Southeast football team’s offense took off in the fourth quarter in a 40-21 win against Dayton on Saturday, Sept. 8, in the Redhawks’ home opener at Houck Stadium.
The Redhawks secured the win late in the game, scoring 20 points in the final period. This was the first time Southeast scored 40 points or more in a game since Oct. 29, 2016, against Austin Peay.
“We blew it open because we have that kind of skill and those athletes,” head coach Tom Matukewicz said. “So I think we finally got them in a position to make those plays.”
Junior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-29 passing and one rushing touchdown. This was his first game action since being carted off the field with a head injury in the first half against Arkansas State on Sept. 1.
“[You] just trust that your practice and your habits take over,” Santacaterina said. “I missed two practices last week, but Coach Jeromy McDowell and Coach Tuke got me prepared in the film room when I couldn’t practice.”
The score was close for the majority of the game and there were multiple situations in the opening quarter where Southeast had to settle for field goals inside the red zone.
“It’s frustrating, because you’re not going to beat people kicking field goals,” Matukewicz said. “We have to find ways to, when we do drive, to score, and not just on 60-70 yard explosive plays. Those are fun too, but when we get down there we have got to get it in [the endzone].”
Matukewicz was referring to a 95-yard touchdown run by senior running back Marquis Terry and a 73-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Zack Smith in the fourth quarter that helped the Redhawks seize control of the game.
Freshman receiver Aaron Alston blocked a punt late in the second quarter, which set the Redhawks up for a nine-yard touchdown run by Santacaterina, giving them the 13-7 lead over the Flyers at the break.
Coming out of halftime, Dayton responded with a touchdown in the air to redshirt freshman wide receiver Richie Warfield. The Redhawks were able to march the ball down the field again, with Santacaterina throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Kristian Wilkerson, his first of two of the night.
Dayton was the first to score in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard run by redshirt senior running back Tucker Yinger one minute into the quarter. Southeast regained a 21-26 lead on a 18-yard touchdown pass to Wilkerson with 11:49 left in the game. The Redhawks would add a 73-yard pass to Smith at the 9:28 mark of the fourth quarter and a 95-yard score by Terry with two minutes left.
Terry, a preseason All-American, finished with 202 yards on 16 carries.
“You know good things will happen when he’s got the ball,” Matukewicz said. “We have to be smart so that we don’t, all of a sudden, wear him completely out so that he gets hurt. But man, he is special. We’ve just got to continue to look to do that.”
Junior inside linebacker Zach Hall recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter, and sophomore defensive back Marcus Lucas pulled in an interception to seal the game.
The Redhawks total yardage was 485, while Dayton totalled 495. Dayton starting quarterback redshirt freshman Jack Cook threw for 281 yards and a touchdown, most of which came in the second half, with 32 of his 45 pass attempts coming then.
Wilkerson and sophomore Zack Smith both had four receptions for 34 and 49 yards, respectively. Wilkerson pulled down two touchdowns.
Dayton’s leading receiver was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kyle Butz, who had seven receptions for 73 yards. Yinger led the Flyers on the ground with 127 yards and a score on 22 carries.
“We attacked and I thought we responded all day long, whether we blocked a punt, or the offense went out there and scored or we ‘three and outed’ them,” Matukewicz said. “It was just good offense, defense and special teams.”
Southeast will travel to Carbondale for the inaugural War for the Wheel against Southern Illinois University-Carbondale on Sept. 15.