Football faces Sycamores on senior day


Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Khalen Saunders goes to tackle a University of Northern Iowa player at a home game on Hanson Field.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois University Leathernecks (5-5, 4-3) will face off against the Indiana State Sycamores (6-4, 4-3) in the regular season finale. It will be Senior Day this weekend, and there will be 21 Leathernecks who will suit up for their final game at Hanson Field.

Not only is it the seniors last game at home, but there is also a potential playoff spot on the line. These two teams are currently tied for the third spot in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and there has been lots of chatter saying the winner of this matchup may receive the final spot in the upcoming FCS Playoffs.

Western is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the University of South Dakota. After losing 17-12 and not scoring any points on offense, the team will look to rebound in this critical conference matchup. The team will look to follow their senior leadership in their final regular season game. Look for senior quarterback Sean McGuire to come out poised, and to make a big statement in his last time under center on Hanson field. The key for the Leathernecks will be what it has been all year, defense.

They have one of the best units, and have the ability to completely take over ball games. Senior defensive lineman Khalen Saunders and senior linebacker Pete Swenson are the leaders of this unit, and are finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the best defensive player in the FCS. However, Western’s defense will have their hands full on Saturday against a rolling Sycamore team. Head coach Jared Elliott said on “The Coaches Show” that he likes the matchup his defense has against Indiana State’s offense. They are a run heavy team, and that his defense excels at this best. The key for the Purple and Gold to walk away with the win on Senior Day is to stop their explosive ground game.

Indiana State comes into this matchup riding a four-game winning streak after defeating the Illinois State Redbirds. Ryan Boyle, their quarterback, and Ja’Quan Keys, their running back are the leaders of this very dynamic offense. Boyle has been very efficient this year completing 119 of his 188 passes while only throwing two interceptions. The main reason he has been so reliable all season is because they are a run heavy team, and Keys is the one who carries the offensive load. He has run the ball on 158 snaps and has accumulated 977 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns. He is going to be a big problem for the Leatherneck defense. They may not be able to stop him, but they have to find a way to contain him if they want to walk away with a victory.

Western Illinois will kick off against Indiana State this Saturday is at 1 p.m. Make sure to come out to Hanson Field, and cheer on the seniors.