Western Illinois Football seeks first win of the season

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Football team will be back in action on Saturday, looking for their first win of the season’s campaign. Set to kickoff at 3 p.m., the Leathernecks are facing Tennessee Tech at Hanson field.

The Leathernecks are coming off their first home loss, their third straight, to Montana State by 23-14. The defense shined in the first half, keeping the game tied at seven going into the half. However, the offense couldn’t seem to score, only mustering a touchdown per half. The first half touchdown came in the second quarter, when junior quarterback Connor Sampson connected with his wide out, junior Dennis Houston for a 65-yard touchdown pass. Their only other bright spot came in the third quarter when senior Jared Drake rushed for a three-yard touchdown run to make the game a three-point difference.

The offense racked up plenty of yards, for a total of 373 yards and had some good drives going for them before they were stopped due to penalties. The Leathernecks had nine penalties that were called on them, resulting in 105 lost yards in the process. This was the main killer for the team and this will definitely be something they will be looking to fix against the Golden Eagles. Another key for the offense moving forward will be taking care of the ball. The Leathernecks had two fumbles and an interception in their previous game.

The defense needs to play better against Tennessee Tech than they did last week against Montana State. The defense allowed a total of 343 all-purpose yards and didn’t record a sack for the first time all season. If our Fighting Leathernecks are hoping to win come Saturday, the defense needs to go after and pound the Golden Eagle’s quarterback.

Tennessee Tech is going into Saturday with a 2-1 record, winning their last contest by a score of 31-14 over Virginia-Wise. Led by sophomore Bailey Fisher under center, the Golden Eagles are averaging an astounding 418 total yards per game so far. Fisher averages 221 passing yards a game, often connecting with wide outs Darrius Stafford and Austin Hicks, who both have 10 receptions through their first three games; the pair averages 58.3 and 57 receiving yards per game, respectively, and Hicks has a touchdown to go along with his impressive receiving numbers on the season. The Golden Eagles also get a good amount of help from the ground game from running backs Andrew Goldsmith and David Gist, both of whom average over 45 rushing yards a game and both have scored a touchdown in the process.

This means that Western’s defense should have their hands full come Saturday. However, this is a team that is hungry for a win. While the first three games haven’t come out in our favor, this team knows how important it is to win before heading into conference play, because once the team hits conference play, nothing comes easy. This should be a winnable game for Western Illinois, as long as the team comes ready to play, and more importantly, ready to win.