WIU falls to ranked Montana State in home opener

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — The Western Illinois University football team hosted the No. 10 ranked Montana State Bobcats in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) on Saturday.

WIU lost 23-14 in a hotly-contested game at Hanson Field.

Montana State (2-1) marked the board first when senior running back Logan Jones rushed into the end zone from 14 yards out.

WIU (0-3) responded in the second quarter, when junior quarterback Conor Sampson connected with wide receiver Dennis Houston for a 65-yard touchdown.

The third quarter saw both teams trade blows.

Bobcats kicker Tristian Bailey chipped in a 27-yard field goal, and Logan Jones recorded a monster 87-yard run for a touchdown.

The Leathernecks went on an 8-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Jared Drake’s rushing touchdown.

WIU stayed tight throughout the second half, and had a chance to take the lead at the start of the 4th when Sampson threw an interception on the Montana State 30 yard line.

The Bobcats would fail to score on the ensuing possession but would record a field goal, thanks to an unfortunate bounce on the punt that hit Leatherneck blocker Ziare Williams, to make the score 20-14

The Leathernecks could not find a way to score for the rest of the game, Senior kicker Nathan Erickson missed a 35-yard field goal attempt that would have put WIU within three.

Western still had a chance late in the 4th, to tie or take the lead, with a touchdown and the extra point, but two pass interference penalties on two straight Montana State 3rd downs would eventually let the Bobcats record a field goal that would give the game its final score of 23-14.

WIU made a season-high record of 337 yards of total offense. The Leathernecks also allowed 343 yards to the Bobcats, a season-low.

Sampson was 18 of 35 on passing, throwing for 281 yards, 1 touchdown, and one interception.

The Leatherneck defense stood its ground on 3rd down only allowing MSU to convert twice on 16 tries.

Western Illinois looks to turn things around next Saturday at as they host the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Hanson Field at 3 p.m.