Story and photo courtesy of Western Illinois Athletics
MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois’ defense came away with four interceptions, including two from Martinez Davis who returned one for a touchdown, as the Leathernecks improved to 2-0 following a 27-17 victory over Indianapolis on Saturday (Sept. 8) at Hanson Field.
Quarterback Josh Hudson and the offense took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in nine plays, capped by the first rushing touchdown in Hudson’s career from 13 yards out. The defense held Indianapolis (0-2) to a 39-yard field goal, then the offense took nearly three minutes off the clock covering 70 yards in seven plays. Nikko Watson scored from a yard out with seconds left in the first quarter.
Indy’s Klay Fiechter added a 1-yard touchdown run cutting the lead to three, but again the Leathernecks took a chuck of time off the clock. The 11-play drive that consumed 5:21 off the clock was capped when Pat Smith converted a career-long 46-yard field goal.
The Greyhounds took the ball to start the third quarter and marched to midfield. Davis, who had a pick early in the second quarter, stepped in front Chris Mills’ pass and raced 49 yards into the endzone for a 24-10 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the secondary tried for another pick but could not get a hand on the ball and Mills’ pass went complete to Mar’Quone Edwards for a 52-yard TD.
During the final minutes of the game with Indy trying to tie the game, Antoine Ford picked off Mills. The Leathernecks took two minutes off the clock and sealed the win with Smith’s 34-yard field goal. Kieron James picked off Mills on the next drive, allowing Western to take a knee and secure the win.
“I am very proud of the Leathernecks for playing four quarters. We’ve done that two weeks in a row. When you play college football almost all games last four quarters and you have to be prepared for that. Not many games end early,” said head coach Mark Hendrickson “Overall, I’m very proud of the team and their effort that they gave. We know they have a very good quarterback and so from our side I’m very proud of our guys for the four interceptions that they had and Martinez Davis returned one for a touchdown… that certainly made a big difference in the outcome of the ballgame.”
The sophomore defensive back, making his first start of the season, added three tackles to go with his two interceptions.
“Basically I just read my keys, my keys took me to the position and I was able to make the play, I just remember catching the ball and running,” said Davis. “It’s always in your thought process, I want to do this I want to do that, but when it actually happens it’s a great feeling and to do it in a close game like this is great.”
Hudson completed 14-of-20 for 141 yards. Caulton Ray narrowly missed on his eighth career 100-yard game, finishing with 99 net rushing yards on 19 carries. Watson tallied 70 rushing yards and a TD.
Fredson Salomon caught six passes for 57 yards to lead the receivers. Smith not only kicked two field goals, but averaged 41.8 yards on his four punts.
J.J. Raffelson led the defense for the second week in a row, making a career-high 12 tackles. Kevin Kintzel and Jonathon Rollins each added a career-high in tackles with nine and eight, respectively.
The defense was without the services of three fifth-year starters due to injuries: linebacker Tyler West and defensive backs Chris Boone and Keith Enderlein. The unit was still able to win the turnover battle decisively.
“The turnovers ended up four to one and that often dictates the outcome of a college football game. We were able to control the ball just a little bit longer than they did. Our kicking game led by Pat Smith was strong again as well with his place kicks and especially the field goal there at the end to give us a 10-point lead,” said Hendrickson. “When you lose three out of 11 players that are all returning starters, that’s a big hit to our defensive unit. Martinez Davis became the starter for us tonight and he obviously played very well with the two interceptions. David McDaniel started at free safety for us and Kevin Kintzel started for us at our weak backer spot and they all played well.”
Mills, a preseason Division II All-America selection, completed 17-of-28 passes for 217 yards and a TD pass to go with his four interceptions. Klay Fiechter rushed for a game-high 122 yards on 27 carriers. Todd Hacker made 12 tackles to lead the Greyhounds defense.
The Leathernecks close out the regular season non-conference schedule next Saturday (Sept. 15), traveling to Iowa State. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.