CARBONDALE — Mark Iannotti, Paul McRoberts and Ryan McCrum are long gone, but SIU's football team remembers its last trip to Cape Girardeau well.
The Salukis have won five of their last six against Southeast Missouri State, but the only loss during that stretch came at Houck Field in 2015. The Redhawks scored two defensive touchdowns and forced seven SIU turnovers, but needed a 42-yard field goal from McCrum with five seconds to go to win 27-24.
The Salukis (1-0) return to the Houck of Horrors Saturday night at 6 p.m. to take on the winless Redhawks (0-2), who suddenly find themselves with their backs to the wall in their home opener. Southeast Missouri State lost at Kansas, 38-16, and fell at Dayton 25-23 Saturday when quarterback Jesse Hosket's pass for the tying two-point conversion was intercepted.
"SEMO's coming off two tough losses, and had a tough road game at Dayton this past week, but they're getting back at home and it's a tough place to play down there," said SIU coach Nick Hill, who was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015. "I promise that we'll be ready and be prepared, and our players know what type of atmosphere we're going down to. Two years ago was a tough game down there, where they knocked us off, and a lot of the guys, our older guys, our juniors and seniors, remember that game pretty clearly."
Iannotti, who went on to set SIU's single-season total offense record in 2015, threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 41 yards and a score in the loss at Houck Field. He was also picked off three times, once for a 21-yard touchdown, and fumbled inside the Redhawk 10-yard line inside the last four minutes with the score tied.
McRoberts, one of Southeast Missouri State's all-time greats at receiver, caught a 7-yard pass from quarterback Tay Bender just inside the sideline, and just past current Saluki defensive back Jefferson Vea, to set up the game-winning field goal. McCrum, who had missed three field goal attempts in a row after making a 39-yarder, connected from 42 yards out to win the game.
SIU finished 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, in what turned out to be Dale Lennon's last season as coach. Southeast Missouri State finished 2015 4-7 overall and 3-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The Salukis opened the 2017 season with a 55-3 win over winless Mississippi Valley State (0-2) Saturday. With another good week of preparation, SIU hopes to make it two in a row over the Redhawks, and end an 11-game road losing streak dating back to 2014.
The Salukis haven't won away from Carbondale since taking down Missouri State 32-22 Nov. 8, 2014, in Springfield, Missouri.
* Florida stayovers: Hill began his Monday press conference with a brief for the Florida victims of Hurricane Irma. SIU has many players from the Sunshine State, most of them from the southern half.
"We have over 20 players from the state of Florida, so, it's been on a lot of people's minds, and we've been in constant contact with our players and making sure that their families are OK," Hill said. "Several families were up here for the game, and they're actually still up here."
Hill said the families of three players were still in Carbondale, and would likely remain here until the end of the week or they can return to their homes.