The Southeast Missouri State University football team had their home opener last night, but this wasn’t just any normal home opener.
The game was against Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, a game better known as the “War for the Wheel.” The wheel is a ship wheel, as each of these teams used to travel by boat across the Mississippi River to play each other.
The 87th War for the Wheel was also dubbed a “blackout game,” as Southeast fans were encouraged to show up in all black. It was a crowd of over 8,000 people, almost double the average attendance from home games last season.
Southeast students specifically showed out in full force. That was something Redhawks head coach Tom Matukewicz had never seen before.
“The first thing that stands out, just the crowd,” said Matukewicz. “One thing about the crowd was the students. Some of you guys haven’t been here as long as I have and that’s never happened.”
Southeast seniors Daniel Santacaterina and Zach Hall stepped up in a big way for their final War for the Wheel game; Santacaterina threw for 248 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 54 yards, and adding two more touchdowns.
Hall had 19 total tackles and a sack. Kristian Wilkerson was Santacaterina’s main target, catching six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Southeast took home the win and the wheel by a score of 44-26.
It was the second straight year that the Redhawks bested the Salukis as they won last year’s nailbiter 48-44. It was the first time that Southeast has beaten SIU Carbondale in back-to-back years since 2001 and 2002.
The Redhawks lead the all time series between the two teams with a 42, 37, and 8 record.