Second half spells success for Salukis

Second half spells success for Salukis

By Tony McDaniel

SIU football was dominant on Saturday, but only for the second half.

The Salukis held South Dakota to just 78 offensive yards in the second half. SIU shut down the Coyotes’ good rushing offense to win 41-10.

SIU improved to 5-1 with the victory, and are solidly positioned at the season’s midpoint.

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Senior running back Malcolm Agnew returned to form. Agnew had 131 yards and 3 touchdowns against South Dakota. It was the first game since SIU faced Southeast Missouri that Agnew ran for more than 100 yards. Agnew also reached a personal milestone, when he reached 1,500 career-rushing yards and has 1,560 yards for his career.

MyCole Pruitt continued his run of games with 100 yards receiving, making him the second player in school history to have 100 or more yards in three straight games. The All- American had 7 catches for 137 yards.

Junior quarterback Mark Iannotti also had one of his better games as a Saluki. He had 19 completions for 264 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line kept the Coyote defense away from Iannott, who was never sacked during the game.

The Salukis have a simple recipe to win games this season—run the ball with Agnew and allow Iannotti to find Pruitt in the passing game.

Second half dominance has been a recurring theme for the Salukis all year. There isn’t a better second-half team in the Football Championship Subdivision. SIU has outscored its opponents 114- 13 in the final two quarters, this season. Each game this season has been won in the same fashion.

SIU has been so dominant in the second half it neutralized other teams. Only time will tell if the Salukis can make this work for the entire season, but we may get an answer in the next game.

The Salukis will run into the North Dakota State Bison on Saturday. The Bison are defending FCS national champions and have won 29 straight games. North Dakota State is on a different level than most FCS teams.

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If SIU struggles in the opening half next week the Bison can put the Salukis in an early hole. That happened to the Salukis against Purdue. The Boilermakers were just good enough to suppress the Saluki offense and hold on for the win in week 4.

NDSU will make SIU pay for each and every mistake.

Playoffs are a reality and SIU can be good enough to make a deep post season run. To make the jump from a good to great team the Salukis must become as dominant in the first half as they are in the second.

SIU has a chance to upset North Dakota State next weekend, and it won’t take a herculean effort. SIU just needs to be able to put a four-quarter game together instead of just playing well in the second half.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 256

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