VERMILLION, S.D.—Western Illinois quarterback Wil Lunt hooked up with Fredson Salomon for two long touchdowns, including a 66-yarder midway through the fourth quarter as the Leathernecks knocked off South Dakota, 24-17, Saturday in front of more than 10,000 fans in for the annual Dakota Days game.

Lunt was 10-of-20 for 170 yards in his first start of the season in place of Josh Hudson. He completed five passes for 136 yards in the second half in rallying the Leathernecks from a 10-3 halftime deficit.

Lunt tied the game at 10-10 early in the third quarter with a 25-yard strike to Salomon on 3rd-and-13 and following a blocked South Dakota punt. He threw a 39-yard pass to Charles Chestnut that preceded a 1-yard run by Caulton Ray that gave the Leathernecks their first lead at 17-10. Salomon and Chestnut accounted for all but 11 yards receiving for Western.

The game winner came with some trickery. The Leathernecks ran a reverse to Lunt who was lined up as a wide receiver in the wildcat formation. There were no Coyotes in site as Lunt laid a pass out deep to Salomon who was waiting downfield.

South Dakota (1-4, 0-2 MVFC) managed one first down on its final two drives of the game. Eddy Holtschlag forced quarterback Josh Vander Maten to fumble on 4th-and-6 and Luke Venegoni recovered to seal the win for the Leathernecks (3-2, 1-1 MVFC).

The Coyotes got a field goal on their opening possession, but their next three drives were stopped by a fumble, a dropped pass and a failed 3rd-and-1 conversion. Back-to-back sacks by Keyen Lage and Jordan Eaton reignited the Coyotes late in the first half and the offense responded with a 6-play, 76-yard touchdown drive capped by a Marcus Sims 8-yard run 23 seconds before halftime.

South Dakota had a chance to build on its lead when it took first possession in the third quarter, but a holding penalty and the blocked punt – the Coyotes third blocked punt in two games – quickly swung momentum back to the visitors and Lunt and company capitalized with 14 unanswered points.

South Dakota wide out Anthony Williams briefly halted the momentum when he took what appeared to be a harmless bubble screen pass on 3rd-and-10 from the Western 41, broke a few tackles and took off and into the end zone to tie the game at 17-17 late in the third quarter. Two of Williams’ four catches this season have been touchdowns.

Vander Maten finished 18-of-31 for 179 yards and led the Coyotes with 67 yards rushing. Marcus Sims, who was averaging nearly seven yards a carry this season, was limited to 14 carries for 40 yards by Western Illinois.

Head Coach Joe Glenn Post Game Quotes:

On his team’s rushing performance…
“We tried to run our bread and butter stuff that we bank on, but we couldn’t get it going. We couldn’t get in sync. We couldn’t get it going in the second half. Things that normally worked for us in the running game didn’t work for us today. When the running game shuts down, then you have trouble throwing the football.

“When we aren’t able to run the football with power, then our bootleg play doesn’t really come into play. We want to feature Josh coming out the perimeter, but if they are stopping the run part of it then the play-action pass isn’t going to be as good.”

On Nikko Watson’s 138-yard performance for Western…
“It’s obvious to me that we are still struggling with the big back. I give him credit. It’s easy for me to say this sitting on the sideline, but honestly we weren’t big enough or strong enough to take down that guy with one tackle. We saw that on film but he was fresh and ready to go today.

On his team’s mistakes…
“We talked about it before the game and again at halftime, play smart. You can’t hold people. Don’t make the second punch. Don’t clip people in the back. We’ve been talking about these things, but then right before my very eyes you see it. I ask my coaches to coach it and teach it.

Senior wide receiver Will Powell on looking ahead to Missouri State…
“It’s going to take senior leadership and us just plugging along. We need to keep working hard every day. It’s the mental side of it that we are just not getting down- all across the board. Once we can get that corrected, we will be a great football team. It will take us looking forward and being positive and not looking in the past.”

Courtesy:  University of South Dakota