Weber State Suffers Heartbreaking Loss To Southern Illinois In FCS Playoffs

Apr 24, 2021, 5:22 PM | Updated: 6:06 pm
Weber State vs. Southern Illinois - 2021 FCS Playoffs...
(Photo courtesy of Weber State Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Weber State Athletics)

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State had a 21-7 lead against Southern Illinois in the first half but the Salukis made a comeback and beat the Wildcats 34-31.

The loss for Weber State to Southern Illinois ends an 11-game home winning streak and ends their season in the first round of the FCS Playoffs.

Wildcats quarterback Bronson Barron threw for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Daniel Wright ran the ball 11 times for 91 yards and one touchdown.

Salukis quarterback Sto Labanowitz threw for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Avante Cox caught six passes for 120 yards and one TD.

Each team punted on their first possessions but when Weber got the ball back, they were able to get into the red zone on a 21-yard run by Daniel Wright that started a run of four plays of over 10 yards. The drive was capped off with a Kris Jackson touchdown from one-yard out to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first quarter.

When Southern Illinois had a chance to respond, Sto Lebanowitz threw an interception to Mitchell Maxfield. Two plays later, Bronson Barron threw a 28-yard touchdown to Justin Malone on an end around flea flicker to put the Wildcats up 14-0 with 5:55 remaining in the first quarter.

The Salukis needed a seven play drive to rack up 75 yards that ended in a 26-yard TD from Labanowitz to Avante Cox. Weber State’s lead was cut to seven, 14-7 with 2:56 left in the opening quarter.

Weber State once again found the end zone but they chipped their way into the red zone. Daniel Wright ran in a one-yard touchdown as it capped off a 15-play, 75-yard drive. The Wildcats took a 21-7 lead with 10:52 remaining until halftime.

The Salukis needed 11 plays to get down the field but Romeir Elliott ran in a one-yard touchdown to trim the Weber State lead to seven again, 21-14 with 6:55 left in the second quarter.

Southern Illinois caught a break when they picked off a pass by Barron in the end zone. Weber State’s defense forced SIU to kick a field goal and the score was 21-17 Wildcats at halftime.

The third quarter was scoreless until 2:31 left when SIU went to attempt a field goal when they faked it and threw a touchdown to put them ahead 24-21. Weber State caught a break when SIU had the ball back and was up three-points. The Wildcats recovered a fumble and was inside the 10-yard line. Unfortunately, Weber State couldn’t get into the end zone and settled for a field goal to tie the game at 24 with 14:07 remaining.

After an SIU field goal to regain the lead, Weber State was trucking down the field with a 40 yard run by Wright and a 15 yard catch by David Ames. Bronson Barron ran it in from three yards out to put Weber State ahead 31-27 with 5:25 remaining in the game.

On fourth and goal, Labanowitz was flushed to his right as he threw on the run to the back of the end zone, finding Branson Combs for an 8-yard touchdown. The Salukis took a 34-31 lead with 51 seconds left in the game.

The Wildcats were able to get to the SIU 37-yard line with 17 seconds left but ran out of timeouts. Barron nearly got sacked but was able to throw the ball out of bounds with nine seconds left. On fourth and 10, Barron was sacked and the game was over.

Weber State finished the spring season with a 5-1 record. They will open the 2021 fall football season on Thursday, September 2 at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Utah.

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