OGDEN, Utah – The headline to the story will be the late-game heroics of QB Stone Labanowitz, who lofted a perfect, 4th-down spiral to the corner of the end zone, where WR Branson Combs leaped high to haul it in for the game winning touchdown with 52 seconds remaining.
That sensational play helped lift No. 14-ranked Southern Illinois to a dramatic, come-from-behind win over No. 3 Weber State, 34-31, in the first round of the 2021 NCAA FCS playoffs.
“You have to give credit to Southern Illinois for making plays,” said Weber State head coach Jay Hill. “There were a few times in the second half when we had chances to go up two scores and we didn’t do it and before you know it, they took the lead in the fourth quarter. They are a tough team and made big plays when they needed to.”
The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, then led 21-7 early in the second. SIU scored 10 points in the second quarter to make it 21-17 at halftime.
The Salukis took the lead at 24-21 late in the third quarter, before the Wildcats tied it up with a field goal early in the fourth quarter. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter as SIU went up 27-24 after a 44-yard field goal.
Hill summed up the character of his team, saying, “It really goes against what everybody in the country is doing right now. They’ve stayed, they’ve stuck together, and they believed when it would be tough to believe. We all believed in one another. They went out and got, maybe, one of the biggest wins in Saluki football history.”
- Stadium: Stewart Stadium
Location: Ogden, Utah
- Attendance: 4033
- Duration: 3:09
SIU: Labanowitz, Sto (264 PASS); Strong, Justin (68 RUSH); Cox, Avante (120 REC);
WSU: BARRON, Bronson (224 PASS); WRIGHT, Daniel (91 RUSH); AMES, David (58 REC);