Carbondale, IL (SEMO) - Henry Harris rushed for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns and scored the decisive TD on a 67-yard run late in the fourth quarter to propel Southeast Missouri (2-1) to a stunning 24-21 come-from-behind win over No. 5 Southern Illinois (1-2) Saturday night at Saluki Stadium.
Southeast beat a top-five opponent for the first time in school history since its move to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA). The Redhawks also posted their first win over a ranked opponent since taking down then-No. 19 Tennessee State in 2008.
The Redhawks trailed, 21-3, at halftime before rallying for 14 fourth-quarter points to take down the Salukis in Carbondale for the first time since 2002. SIU is now 38-3 in regular-season games in Carbondale since 2003, with two of those losses coming from Southeast.
Harris scored both touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His first was on a 14-yard run which capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive with 8:22 left to play.
Southeast's defense stood strong on SIU's next possession, and as a result, forced the Salukis to punt.
The Redhawks, after taking over on downs at their own 25, used a 7-yard pass from Matt Scheible to Chantae Ahamefule to get to the 33-yardline. Harris then found a big hole up the middle and dashed 67 yards to give Southeast a 24-21 lead with 3:41 remaining.
"It felt great to score that touchdown," said Harris. "It was an excellent play call and there was great blocking all the way."
Darrick Borum then helped put a halt to SIU's final drive of the night when he tipped Chris Dieker's pass on a 3rd-and-long. The ball fell into the hands of Tylor Brock and the Redhawks went on to run out the clock, putting an exclamation point on the biggest win of head coach Tony Samuel's Southeast career.
"This was a huge win for our program," said Samuel. "We never gave up. It was great for our guys to accomplish what they did. No question, this is the biggest win since I've been at Southeast."
Drew Geldbach's 34-yard field goal gave Southeast an early 3-0 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter, before SIU scored 21 unanswered points.
Shortly after Geldbach's field goal, Steve Strother ran the ensuing kickoff back 91 yards for a touchdown to give SIU a 7-3 advantage. Paul McIntosh then hooked up with Matt Guinn for a 36-yard scoring strike with just under a minute left in the second quarter.
Shariff Harris' 3-yard run with 3:46 left in the second quarter pushed the Salukis lead to 21-3 at halftime.
Harris averaged 8.4 yards per carry on 17 attempts en route to his second-straight 100-yard rushing performance of the season. It marked the first time Harris ran for over 100 yards in back-to-back games in his Southeast career. Harris' 67-yard run was also a career-long.
Scheible completed 12-of-19 passes for 163 yards and went his sixth-straight game without throwing an interception.
Ahamefule caught a season-high seven passes for 94 yards and Miles Edwards caught two passes for 33 yards to lead the Redhawk receivers. Edwards now has 100 catches in his career.
Defensively, Aris Bowen paved the way with nine tackles. Borum added three tackles, including two for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.
Meanwhile, Brock recorded his first career interception and Grimes intercepted a pass in his second-straight start.
Southeast finished with 391 total yards, while holding SIU to 255. The Redhawks rushed for 228 yards and soared to a 163-83 advantage through the air.
"The most gratifying thing about tonight's win was watching our players' faces in the locker room," said Samuel. "What it says is that this has just become a bigger rivalry."
The Redhawks return to Ohio Valley Conference action when they host Tennessee Tech in their home-opener on Sept. 25. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., CT, at Houck Stadium.