Three times this season the football Salukis have had to overcome halftime deficits to earn a win. But playing come-back has put the death-defying Dawgs on top of the Gateway Conference.

By Gus Bode

The 3-0 Salukis came from behind Saturday to beat Austin Peay 21-17 in Clarksville, Tenn. The win gave the team its best start since 1983, when it won the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship.

Austin Peay jumped ahead to a 17-0 second-quarter lead. But the Salukis scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes of the first half to get back into the game.

The Dawgs put together a six-play, 72-yard drive to get on the board. SIUC quarterback Brian Downey capped off the drive connecting with wide receiver Billy Swain for a 23-yard touchdown pass.

Advertisement

The Governors gave the Salukis the opportunity to score again with less than two minutes left in the half.

Saluki junior defensive lineman Wayne Manu recovered tailback Jody Smith’s fumble on the Austin Peay 23. Three plays later Swain caught his second touchdown pass of the game, an eight-yarder. Kicker John Bookout was good on the conversion make the half time score 17-14.

Swain caught 3 passes for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns before spraining his ankle in the third quarter. He is expected to return next week.

Head coach Bob Smith said before the game one of his goals for the remainder of the season was take advantage of turnovers.

It’s important to make turnovers count on the scoreboard, he said. I think you’ll find that teams that end up in the (win) column usually turn turnovers into something positive. That (Manu fumble recovery) was a break for us.

The Salukis took the lead in their first possession of the second half. Fullback Mike Dopud ran four yards to the end zone to cap off a 15-play, 92-yard drive. The drive took more than six minutes.

see DAWGS, page 15

Advertisement

The Saluki defense tightened and held the Governors scoreless in the second half.

Smith said after the Salukis’ win over Murray State that establishing the running game and improving on defense were keys to his team’s future success.

Five Saluki running backs racked up 160 total yards against Austin Peay. Smith said keeping the ball on the ground benefited the defensive performance in the second half.

What probably helped us the most was that our offense made some first downs on the ground, which let us eat up some clock and rest our defense, Smith said. That’s probably a hidden statistic that helped our defense a great deal.

The Salukis play their conference opener at home Saturday against Northern Iowa, which was picked to win the Gateway in a preseason poll.

Advertisement