Salukis crumble to last place with loss to SDSU

By Gus Bode

The Salukis have found their way to the doghouse with their six-straight loss, effectively putting them in last place in the conference.

South Dakota State (4-6, 3-4 Missouri Valley Football Conference) did what it does best, as it used its passing offense to overwhelm the SIU defense and beat the Salukis 45-34 Saturday.

The Salukis (2-7, 1-6 MVFC) put themselves in a hole early with a 35-14 deficit at halftime and were unable to recover, despite a defensive surge that limited the Jackrabbits’ offensive production.

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The Saluki defense held the Jackrabbits to 78 passing yards in the second half, which gave the team an opportunity to close the gap with the Salukis’ 20 points in the final two quarters.

Five of the Salukis’ six straight losses were decided by 11 points or less.

“It’s frustrating,” said head coach Dale Lennon, according to the Saluki athletics website. “It’s kind of been the trend of our season. The guys always fight back, but we just don’t have enough to get the win, so that’s what you saw today. It’s just kind of been the story of our season.”

The Salukis tried to change the theme with their first fourth-quarter come-from-behind win since the last-minute field goal to beat Missouri State Sept. 24.

The game changed when the Salukis were able to put pressure on SDSU freshman quarterback Austin Sumner in the second half. The pressure led to two interceptions, which the Salukis converted into points on the board.

“We started to drop our linebackers a little bit more (in the second half) and get more with four up front and just went to work,” said junior defensive end Kenneth Boatright.

The change in defensive strategy caused the Jackrabbit offense to rely on its running game, as 70 of 148 second-half yards came from the ground effort.

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While SDSU had an overall lopsided offensive scheme, as they had 328 passing yards and only 104 rushing, SIU was much more balanced.

The Salukis had 244 rushing yards and 162 passing yards. Junior running back Jewel Hampton led the Salukis’ ground attack with a career-best 167 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

Sophomore quarterback Kory Faulkner also ran for 50 yards with one touchdown and passed for 162. The Salukis’ leading receiver was freshman tight end MyCole Pruitt with one touchdown on 83 yards.

 

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