Southern Illinois shocks Weber State 34-31 in first round
OGDEN, Utah (AP) Stone Labanowitz lofted a rainbow of a fourth-down pass to the back corner of the end zone for Branson Combs with under a minute left and Southern Illinois upset Weber State 34-31 in the first round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
The Salukis, making their first playoff appearance since 2009, answered Weber State point for point in a frantic fourth quarter and sealed the upset when Raquan Lindsey sacked Weber's Bronson Barron as time expired.
The four-time Big Sky Conference champion Wildcats (5-1) were making a fifth-straight appearance in the playoffs.
SIU (6-3) meets top-seeded South Dakota State in the quarterfinals. Southern Illinois was thumped 44-3 by SDSU on March 20.
Labanowitz was 21-of-34 passing for 264 yards with two touchdowns. Trailing by two touchdowns in the first quarter, Labanowitz started the SIU comeback with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Avante Cox.
The Salukis put together three unanswered scoring drives over the second and third quarters to take the lead for the first time, 24-21, when kicker Nico Gualdoni faked setting up for a field goal and tossed the ball to Cole Steward, unguarded in the end zone.
That set up a fourth quarter where the teams traded field goal for field goal and touchdown for touchdown, with Labanowitz' rainbow to Combs sending the Salukis through to the next round.
Barron threw for 224 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice. Daniel Wright rushed 11 times for 91 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats.
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Updated April 24, 2021