Salukis take out trash-talking Racers team Saturday

By Gus Bode

SIU defense holds OVC opponent to just seven points for second week

The SIU football team realized that a team does not have to talk any trash when the scoreboard can do a much better job.

Numbers spoke louder than words on Saturday night, and the 32-7 that lit the scoreboard at McAndrew Stadium was a convincing statement.

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“They’d get a personal foul, I look up at the scoreboard and it says 16-7,” said Alexis Moreland, who for the second straight week led the team with 10 tackles. “They get another foul. It is 23-7. There was another personal foul again and it was 32-7.”

Murray State committed five personal fouls during the game, while SIU was not flagged for any.

“There was a little chit-chat tonight,” Moreland said. “I think it was more so because nothing was going their way.”

The junior safety was correct.

The Racers had no answer for the Salukis’ stifling defense. Murray accumulated just 221 yards of offense, which is just 32 more yards than Division I-A Kentucky allowed to Murray State the previous week.

The numbers are a drastic change from their meeting last season, when the Racers destroyed the Saluki defense for 475 yards. The biggest turnaround on the stat sheet is the 344 rushing yards allowed then to the humble 81 surrendered this time.

While paper and numbers may suggest the game was a cakewalk, SIU defensive end Billy Beard scoffs at the notion.

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“Don’t say it was easy,” said Beard, who recorded three tackles. “Don’t even put that in the same sentence with them.”

Part of Beard’s emphatic reasoning was because the SIU defense had to buckle down on four fourth-down conversion attempts.

But after last week, where Southeast Missouri State was denied on all of its fourth-down conversions, it is starting to look like the Ohio Valley Conference schools are slow learners.

The Racers were unable to convert any of their four attempts, the most significant coming early in the first quarter when they drove 82 yards to get the ball down inside the Saluki five-yard line.

On fourth-and-goal on the two, Racer quarterback Stewart Childress sprinted to the corner of the end zone on a bootleg, but Moreland stopped him at the three-yard line.

“During two-a-days, we couldn’t get a yard on them either down at the goal line,” Kill said. “I thought we were bad on offense. I’m beginning to think we’re good on defense.”

SIU’s defense may just prefer fourth-down conversions. On the season, teams attempting them are 0-for-8.

“If they had watched the SEMO game, they wouldn’t have [gambled on fourth down],” said senior linebacker Eric Egan, who tied Moreland with 10 tackles, two of which resulted in losses. “But they did and that was the result.”

Moreland’s tackle on Childress resulted in a bruised right shoulder that caused him to miss the lone scoring drive for Murray State. Converted quarterback Stanley Bryant filled in for him and made two stops on the drive.

“It’s just banged up. It is just a little bruise,” Moreland said. “It wasn’t the quarterback that actually did it. It was his helmet. He was ducking down on me. He must have been scared of the hit.”

The Salukis have played quality competition against OVC schools, but they will still have to up the ante against more-talented Gateway foes.

Right now, though, the prospectus is good for the Salukis against the more run-heavy Gateway. In the three games this season, SIU is allowing just 1.9 yards a carry on the ground.

This game held great significance as most of the Gateway games will. This was the last time Murray State and SIU will face off in the near future.

The dominating play issued by the Saluki defense will be a statement the Racers will not forget anytime soon.

“It is always good to go out on top,” Moreland said.

Reporter Zack Creglow can be reached at [email protected]

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