Connor Sampson threw for three touchdowns and Western Illinois rallied in the second half to beat Illinois State 38-31 on Saturday and snap a four-game losing streak.
Trailing 28-13, the Leathernecks (2-7, 2-4) scored two touchdowns in the final 2:36 of the third quarter then Sampson put them ahead with a 6-yard TD throw to Dennis Houston for a 35-28 lead with 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the game. Houston also recovered a teammate’s fumble deep in Illinois State territory with about two minutes left that led to Mason Laramie’s third field goal.
A minute after Sampson threw a 20-yard TD pass to Jack Whyte to get within 28-20, Michael Lawson scooped up a fumble and returned it 41 yards for a WIU score.
Sampson was 27 of 39 for 298 yards passing.
Cole Mueller rushed for 159 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns for the Redbirds (3-5, 1-4),
WIU snapped a three-game losing streak to the Redbirds, who came in with 10 victories in the rivals’ last 11 meetings.