Jackrabbits jump all over football Salukis, win 49-14


Dylan Nelson

Salukis rush into the stadium Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, before the match against the University of Northern Iowa at Saluki Stadium. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

By Nathan Dodd

The SIU football team lost to No. 9 South Dakota State University 49-14 Saturday night in Brookings, South Dakota.

Following a loss to Northern Iowa to commence the Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule, the Salukis wanted to make a statement to the rest of the conference when they traveled to No. 9 South Dakota State University.

In 2016, the Salukis were on the short end of a 45-39 score in Carbondale to the Jackrabbits – ranked No.15 at the time.


A dynamic offense from SDSU has been successful in outscoring opponents 140-69 in contests leading up to Saturday. The only loss that the Jackrabbits have in the 2017 campaign came at the hands of MVFC foe Youngstown State a week ago in which SDSU only mustered seven points.

Looking to improve on a disappointing week offensively, the Jackrabbits gained a quick lead on the Salukis when sophomore wide receiver Marquise Lewis caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Taryn Christion on their first drive of the game.

Christion – the 2016 MVFC Offensive Player of the Year – once again found the end zone on the next SDSU drive – hooking up with freshman tight end Skyler Cavanaugh for a 16-yard TD.

It was not until the third SIU drive that the Salukis found positive yardage. Junior quarterback Sam Straub and the Salukis marched down the field looking poised to put points on the scoreboard. On a third and 12 play, Straub threw an interception at the SDSU 11-yard line.

After what looked to be a Saluki interception by senior cornerback Craig James on the ensuing Jackrabbit’s drive, a questionable call by the officials ruled the SDSU pass as incomplete. The second chance allowed Jackrabbits’ sophomore running back Mikey Daniel to find the end zone on a four-yard run, giving SDSU a 21-0 lead.

Before the half ended, Christion was able to connect with two more Jackrabbits for touchdowns. The first came on a 23-yarder to Marquise Lewis – his second of the game. With seven seconds left on the clock, senior wide receiver Jake Wieneke caught a 1-yard pass for a TD.

SDSU took a commanding 35-0 lead into halftime over a deflated SIU team.


As SDSU was driving down the field in the third quarter, a forced fumble by Saluki sophomore inside linebacker Cody Crider set SIU up for a chance to swing the momentum in their favor.

The Salukis proceeded to move the ball down the field for a 43-yard drive capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Straub. The score cut the SDSU lead to 35-7.

The Jackrabbits answered back during the ensuing drive, scoring on a 28-yard TD run by senior running back Brady Mengarelli to put SDSU ahead 42-7 in the fourth quarter.

SIU got its first big play of the game when Straub hit junior wide receiver Raphael Leonard for a 39-yard touchdown to bring the score to 42-14 in favor of SDSU.

Mengarelli wasted no time scoring in response to the Saluki touchdown. His second TD of the game came on a 32-yard run — giving Mengarelli 220 rushing yards on the day.

SDSU easily maintained its 49-14 lead through the fourth quarter to win the game, improving the Jackrabbits’ overall record to 4-1 and their conference record to 1-1.

Key Performances

Straub finished the game for the Salukis with 179 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Saluki junior wide receiver Darrell James added to his already impressive season by tallying another six catches for 76 yards against the Jackrabbits.

SIU could not find an answer to stop the SDSU offense, especially the aerial attack lead by Christion’s 216 yards and four touchdown passes to three different receivers.

The Jackrabbits were a force to be reckoned with in the running game, claiming three rushing touchdowns while out-rushing the Salukis 368 yards to 84. Mengarelli accounted for 220 of those yards with two touchdowns to go along with 77 yards and one score from Mikey Daniel.

Up Next

SIU (2-3, 0-2 MVFC) faces off against Illinois State University (4-0, 2-1 MVFC) Saturday at Saluki Stadium. Kickoff for the annual Homecoming game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Sports reporter Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.

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