Salukis pound Hawks

By Gus Bode

After an offseason full of practice and team scrimmages, it was time for the SIU football team to put it all together.

And that’s what the Salukis did in defeating the Quincy Hawks, 59-14 Thursday night.

“It was fun,” SIU senior running back John Randle said. “It was fun to get out there and play the first game. We were really excited about this first game and our offense played really well today.”

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Senior returner Craig Turner kicked the Salukis season off in fine fashion. Turner returned the opening kick off for 59 yards to give quarterback Nick Hill and company good field position. Randle would finish the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run nearly five minutes into the game.

The Hawks responded with a five minute, eight second drive of their own, highlighted by an five-yard touchdown scramble by quarterback Craig Moore to tie the game 7-7.

After a 24-point run by the Salukis, which saw Hill complete his first touchdown of the season, the Salukis headed into the half with a comfortable 31-7 lead.

Despite the scoring gap, Kill decided to stick with the Saluki starting quarterback. Hill would end up with 174 passing yards and two touchdowns, completing 13-of-18 passes on the day.

“That’s just playing backyard football,” Hill said. “When you’re scrambling around out there, you just got to go out there and make plays – don’t be stupid with the ball.”

Randle added to his already impressive first half numbers with a two-yard touchdown run with three minutes remaining in the third quarter to give SIU a 38-14 lead. Randle ended the game with 132 rushing yards on just 18 attempts and two touchdowns.

After three scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including two by junior running back Deji Karim and one by sophomore running back Naji Shinskia, the Salukis were well on their way to their first victory with a final score of 59-14.

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Sophomore linebacker Brandin Jordan said the defense played well overall, holding Quincy to 238 yards on offense, but the Hawks first drive score didn’t sit well with him.

Jordan said he initially had a little trouble taking down Moore, who is listed at 235 pounds and broke a number of tackles, but it got easier in his later chances.

“On that first one, he kind of got me, I tried to hit him kind of low,” Jordan said. “But after that it was easy. I kind of had the little first-game butterflies, the first game of the year, but it was a nice experience.”

Saluki head coach Jerry Kill said it was hard to evaluate the game right away because of all the different players used.

“It’s hard for me to assess everything when you got so many players out there at one time,” Kill said. “But it’s always good to get a good win, and we’ll watch the film and review it, there’ll be a lot of things in there that we thought were good that weren’t near as good as we thought they were, and then there’s some things we probably felt we did better than we did.”

The Salukis will travel to play at Northern Illinois for a Sept. 8 tilt, and may be without junior safety Derrick Belton, who exited the game early with a knee injury. Freshman Mike McElroy, who had been redshirted, took Belton’s space on the active roster.

Daily Egyptian writer Scott Mieszala can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 256 or [email protected]

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