SEMO loses “war of the wheel” to SIU 25-26
SEMO Football was defeated in the annual “war of the wheel” game against the Southern Illinois Salukis 25-26 on Sept. 16 at Houck Stadium.
The Redhawks were slow to start on offense, punting on their first couple drives before senior kicker DC Pippin knocked in a field goal three minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Redhawk offense continued to add to that lead in the second quarter, tacking on another field goal and a touchdown from junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent to junior tight end Mitch Sellers. The Redhawk defense also played a heavy role in the second quarter forcing two SIU interceptions as well as a safety.
SEMO walked into halftime with a 15-0 lead but two SIU touchdowns made things competitive quickly. The Redhawk offense would respond by marching down the field for a seven play 70 yard drive, capped off by a nine yard touchdown run from graduate student running back Geno Hess.
With seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, SIU would score making it a one score game at 25-20. SEMO’s defense would hold onto that lead, and with less than four minutes remaining in the game seemed to force a final turnover on downs.
Junior inside linebacker Bryce Norman was one of the performers on defense. Norman, who entered the game with a sprained AC-joint, finished the game with 12 total tackles along with half a sack and half a tackle for loss. Head coach Tom Matukewicz said he was impressed with Norman’s gutsy performance.
“What a gutsy performance, he played his tail off,” Matukewicz said. “I know he's hurting right now because he wanted to help his teammates keep the wheel.”
The Redhawks offense would then try to run down the clock getting near midfield before a Hess fumble gave the Salukis the ball back with less than two minutes remaining. SIU would then drive down the field before senior quarterback Nic Baker hit junior wide receiver Izaiah Hartup for a nine yard touchdown with just 11 seconds remaining.
The Redhawks were able to get in good enough position for a last second hail mary but were unsuccessful.
Even after losing a tough game, DeLaurent said the Redhawks must put the loss behind them before they travel to Eastern Kentucky next week.
“We got EKU who beat us last year, a very good team. We don't got time to soak about the loss and complain,” DeLaurent said. “If you do that you could be 1-3.”
The Redhawks will look to get back in the winning column when they travel on the road to face Eastern Kentucky at 5 p.m. on September 23.