Western rewind: First-quarter struggles continue for Western in road loss at SIU

WIU wide receiver Naseim Brantley (18) fights for yardage Saturday after a reception against Southern Illinois. (Photo by SIUSalukis.com)

By Barry Bottino

Slow starts have doomed Western Illinois this season. On Saturday in Carbondale, against No. 16 Southern Illinois, the Leathernecks fell victim to another first-quarter stumble in an in-state Missouri Valley Football Conference game.

SIU (5-2 overall, 4-0 MVFC) scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and rolled to a 30-7 victory to keep Western (0-6, 0-3) winless on the season.

The Leathernecks have been outscored 55-3 in the first quarter this season.

The lone offensive bright spot for Western was the strong play of wide receiver Naseim Brantley, who caught a 30-yard, second-quarter touchdown from starting quarterback Henry Ogala for WIU’s only points.

Brantley led all players with 71 yards receiving on four catches.

Ogala started Saturday’s game in place of Clay Bruno, who had started the previous two games. Bruno replaced Ogala in the second half. The duo combined for a 13-for-35 passing effort totaling 144 yards. Along with the TD, Ogala threw an interception.

Game changers

11:31, 1st quarter: Less than 5 minutes into the game, Javon Williams Jr. scored on a 6-yard TD run for SIU.

0:32, 2nd quarter: Brantley’s TD catch completed WIU’s longest drive of the day, a 65-yard, nine-play effort.

10:15, 3rd quarter: Ogala was intercepted by SIU cornerback David Miller, setting up the Salukis at the WIU 23-yard line.

What it means

The Leathernecks are still chasing their first victory of the season. However, three of their last five games on the schedule are at home.

Nifty ‘Necks

Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three Leatherneck players in the game:

Brantley: He averaged nearly 18 yards a catch and leads the MVFC in receiving TDs (6) and yards per game (94.33).

Bryce Cross, DB: The transfer from Georgia Southern led all players with 10 tackles in the game.

T.J. Limehouse, DB: The senior safety, who ranks seventh in the MVFC in tackles per game, continued his strong play with nine tackles.

What’s next?

Western hosts Youngstown State at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 in the Leathernecks’ Homecoming contest.

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