CARBONDALE — With 38 new players, 17 of which played in the season opener at Kansas, Southeast Missouri State's football team is still developing after two games.
The Redhawks forced two turnovers but lost 38-16 at Kansas, an FBS program, and came a Jesse Hosket pass from tying up Dayton in the final minute Saturday. Hosket's two-point conversion attempt was intercepted, and the Flyers held on for a 25-23 win that dropped the Redhawks to 0-2 heading into Saturday's home opener against SIU (1-0).
"We just want to make sure we continue to talk and think about SEMO and not our opponent," Redhawks coach Tom Matukewicz said. "We have seven new starters on offense. We have seven new starters on defense, and, so, really it's an execution thing, whether it's in the kicking game or on offense or on defense. We gotta eliminate mistakes and things that end up losing you football games before we can really talk about our opponents, or how to win a game."
Southeast Missouri State trailed 10-0 in the first quarter at Dayton but rallied to take a 17-16 lead with 8:58 to go in the third. Hosket found Trevon Billington for a 68-yard touchdown pass that was the longest offensive play of the game for either team.
The Redhawks then negated an interception with a defensive holding penalty and had their second punt of the game blocked/deflected. The Flyers (1-1) turned the blocked punt into six points and added a 38-yard field goal in the final three minutes to seal the win.
Hosket, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound senior, is the Redhawks' first quarterback to start in back-to-back seasons in six years. He's completed 45 of 76 passes (59.2 percent) for 421 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season with some new weapons.
Wilkerson, a 6-foot, 203-pound sophomore, is his only returning skill player. Wilkerson leads the team with 18 catches and is tied with Billington, a 5-11, 181-pound sophomore, for the team lead with two touchdown catches. The Redhawks return both tackles, Drew Forbes on the left side and Alex Snyder on the right, but have three new linemen blocking for a new running back.
Marquis Terry, a 5-6, 179-pound junior from Highland Community College, is Southeast Missouri State's new feature back. The juco All-American rushed for 111 yards on 25 carries and his first touchdown of the season at Dayton. Terry is averaging 4.1 yards a carry on 48 attempts, 40 more than any other Redhawk.
"He had his best game last week against Dayton," SIU coach Nick Hill said. "He's similar to some of the backs we had. Not a big back, but he finishes his runs, plays behind his pads, and will run for tough yardage, so, he's got speed to have some explosive runs and he runs the ball hard. He's a good back."
Behind six sacks, SIU held Mississippi Valley State (0-2) to minus-8 yards rushing on 29 carries in Saturday's 55-3 victory. The Delta Devils threw for 322 yards, 174 in the second half, when the Salukis rotated a lot of their backups with a six-score lead.
Southeast Missouri State's defense will be the first of three 3-4 fronts the Salukis face this season. Memphis (Sept. 23) and Western Illinois (Nov. 18) also play a 3-4 defense. Outside linebacker Chad Meredith, the team's leading tackler with 17 stops, is a preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference pick.
Backup running back Cameron Sanders, who also returns kickoffs, was also a preseason all-conference pick after leading the OVC in kick return average (27 yards per return). Sanders has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the last two years.