NCAAF: Southern Illinois pulls off upset over Northwestern

Nic Baker threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth Saturday as visiting Southern Illinois notched its first win of the year, upsetting Northwestern 31-24 in Evanston, Ill.

Baker, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 241 yards with an interception, snapped a 17-17 tie with a 9-yard scoring strike to Jacob Garrett with 12:28 left in the game. Baker then snuck a yard with 5:09 remaining for the clinching score, two plays after Nick Okeke recovered a Ryan Hilinski fumble at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line.

Hilinski found Malik Washington for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 left, but the Salukis (1-2) recovered the onside kick and got a first down to earn their first win over an FBS team since 2019.

Hilinski completed 27 of 43 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions, while Evan Hull ran 25 times for 124 yards and a score while also catching eight passes for 33 yards. But the Wildcats (1-2) turned it over four times.

The result marked Southern Illinois’ first win over a Big Ten Conference program since 2006, when it upset Indiana. Current coach Nick Hill was the Salukis’ quarterback that day and he engineered a similar outcome in this one, his second win over an FBS team in seven years.

Northwestern initiated the scoring with 2:14 left in the first quarter as Hilinski snuck in on 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line, capping a 14-play, 88-yard drive that lasted 5:40 and featured a heavy dose of power football.

SIU responded on the first quarter’s second play. Baker play-faked and threw deep over the middle to wide-open tight end Tyce Daniel, several yards behind any defender. The 57-yard touchdown tied the score.

Hull regained a seven-point lead for the Wildcats on their next drive on a 1-yard plunge off left guard, but the Salukis answered back after Branson Combs intercepted Hilinski. Baker flipped an 18-yard scoring strike to Garrett at the 2:04 mark to equalize at 14-14.

SIU grabbed its first lead at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter when Jake Baumgarte converted a 45-yard field goal, but Northwestern drew even at 17 on Adam Stage’s 26-yard field goal to start the fourth period.

–Field Level Media

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