The SIU football team defeated Hampton 37-31 on Saturday night. The Saluki offense, which had its problems moving the ball during preseason scrimmages, had many efficient moments.
I'd be remiss if I didn't start this segment with Larry Warner: Rally Killer, who accounted for 353 all-purpose yards, and was the sparkplug he was made out to be.
Warner ran wild against the Hampton Pirates, gaining 151 yards on the ground and racked up 163 return yards. But it's not just that he made the plays, it's when he made them.
When Hampton trimmed SIU's lead to 20-10 with 2:23 remaining in the first half, Warner took the ensuing kick-off 95 yards up the right side to give SIU the 27-10 lead, which they would hold going into half time.
Then, when the Pirates got within 27-24 with 7:12 remaining, Warner struck again.
After Lucien Walker picked up a key fourth down conversion, Warner took the next hand-off from quarterback Chris Dieker and took it for a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Salukis a 34-24 lead.
PLAYMAKERS II - College Pick 'Em Edition:
Safety Mike McElroy must love playing Hampton.
In last year's tilt against the Pirates, McElroy made a career-high seven tackles in the Salukis' 45-21 victory.
In last night's game, McElroy picked off three passes and came close to a fourth, which went right through his hands.
McElroy said there was no coincidence, giving credit to the coaching staff who scouted the Pirates well and his teammates.
Even though SIU allowed 31 points, winning the turnover battle makes it a bit easier to swallow.
PICKS TO CLICK RECAP:
Damian Sherman, last night's offensive pick-to-click, caught only three balls for 30 yards, but two of the grabs capped scoring drives. His first TD, a 21-yard reception from Dieker, was a post corner route in which Sherman took advantage of the man-to-man coverage.
Funny thing about that...as soon as SIU got to the 20 yard line, I looked over to my boss and said "this would be a good time to hit Sherman on a corner route." Moments later, Saluki Nation was celebrating the first touchdown of the season.
So yeah, you can say I got my Steve Stone on. Who knew I could do that in football, too?
My defensive pick to click, linebacker Chauncey Mixon, made five tackles, but was overshadowed by McElroy's defensive dominance.
I'll be the first to admit I was worried about SIU's offense coming into Saturday night's game against Hampton.
They struggled during at times during the preseason scrimmages to the point where the only analogy I could come up with is that they were the awkward white guy dancing in the club. They looked awkward and out of sync.
I guess Chris Dieker, Larry Warner and the rest of the Salukis put on their dancing shoes prior to the game.