Salukis fall to SDSU in senior day showdown


The Saluki football team runs out onto the field for their last home football game against South Dakota State, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Allie Tiller | @allietiller_de)

By Tamar Mosby, Sports reporter

SIU football fell in their final home game of the season, 57-38, to the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (6-2, MVFC 4-2).

This afternoon’s matchup was senior night for Southern as they honored 14 Saluki seniors.

Among the 14, were quarterbacks Matt DeSomer and Sam Straub and wide receivers Darrell James and Raphael Leonard.


Head coach Nick Hill expressed his gratitude and pride for the seniors on his team after this evening’s game.

“I’m really proud of all the seniors that have given a lot,” Hill said. “As a head coach, I appreciate their commitment and coachability. A lot of them are going to go on an do great things.”

SDSU leads the Dawgs in the all time series 6-3 with another win being added to the Jackrabbits after this evening’s game.

After winning tonight’s game South Dakota will have won the past three games against SIU.

SDSU took charge right away in the first quarter and made it into the endzone for a seven-play, 63-yard drive touchdown before the Salukis were able to gain possession of the ball.

While Southern could not reach the endzone on their first possession, they were able to score a 33-yard field goal with 6:22 left the the first quarter.

Within the first two plays of their next possession, the Jackrabbits gained 64 yards and were just outside of the Saluki end zone.


The Dawgs locked down the field and were able to keep their opponents out of the end zone despite the four yard distance.

SDSU then tried for a field goal and successfully tallied three more points on the board bring the score to 10-3 with SIU behind.

Southern continued to press against their defenders and sophomore wide receiver Landon Lenoir ran the ball for 29 yards from the SIU 48-yard line to bring the Salukis just 23 yards outside of the SDSU end zone.

Lenoir went on to finish with 48 receiving yards and 29 rushing yards.

Time expired just as the Dawgs reached the SDSU two-yard line, keeping the score 10-3 at the entering the second quarter.

The second quarter picked up at 4th and goal for SIU at the Jackrabbit’s two yard line.

With just one chance to score, senior quarterback Matt DeSomer rushed for one yard into the endzone giving Southern its first touchdown of the game and tying the score 10-10.

DeSomer finished this evening’s game having rushed four touchdowns which is the most a quarterback has had in the program’s history.

“It feels great to have achieved that,” DeSomer said. “The offensive line blocked really well and did their part. I couldn’t have done it without them and all credit goes to them.”

Senior quarterback, Matt DeSomer, advances the ball during the Salukis’ 57-38 loss against the South Dakota Jackrabbits at Saluki Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerDE)

A punt by junior Lane Reazin was blocked and recovered by SDSU’s defense and immediately ran into the endzone for another Jackrabbit touchdown pushing them ahead of Southern by seven.

The Salukis quickly responded by making it into the Jackrabbit endzone for a touchdown on a 13-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score once again.

During this drive, a crucial 19-yard completed pass to Leonard and DeSomer rushes for 29 yards gaining two first downs for Southern and scoring his second touchdown of the game.

Leonard finished the game leading the team in receiving yards with 76 total.

Within the next minute of the quarter, the Jackrabbits stole the lead again scoring another touchdown in just two plays against SIU’s defense making the score 24-17.

In the last 50 seconds of the game, SDSU scored a one-play touchdown after a 56-yard pass was completed to wide receiver Cade Johnson putting the Dawgs down 30-17.

Coach Hill felt that the Saluki special teams could have done a better job with position during punts and that SDSU’s positioning allowed them to score easily on touchdowns.

“I don’t think our special teams helped us at all really,” Hill said. “Our starting positions were way out of whack and theirs were, several times, passed the 40-yard line.”

The score remained 30-17 with Southern trailing by two touchdowns as the half came to a close.

The Salukis received first possession of the ball at the start of the the second half and came out hot scoring a touchdown on a six-play, 75-yard drive with 50 of the yards belonging to junior running back Dj Davis.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Hill said. “That’s why I told them at half time when we were down 13 with the ball that we needed to come out and score. We did that really well.”

Davis finished with leading the team in rushing yards with 203 total and just over 1100 rushing yards on his season total.

This touchdown was DeSomer’s third of the afternoon.

South Dakota responded to this on the next possession running into the SIU end zone for a three-play, 54-yard touchdown bringing the score of the game to 36-24 with the Dawgs still looking to catch up.

Southern showed no signs of giving up and scored a touchdown during the next possession.

The six-play, 86-yard drive was fueled by a 67-yard rush by Davis and the touchdown was scored by DeSomer.

This rush brought Davis to 1000 total rushing yards for the season making him the first Saluki running back since 2011 to do so.

Davis credited God, his coaches, and his teammates for his latest accolade.

“All glory goes to God,” Davis said “I want to thank my coaches and my offensive line. I got this for them. They work hard for me and I work hard for them. This means a lot to me.”

Junior running back D.J. Davis is brought down by saftey Makiah Slade, during the Salukis’ 57-38 loss against the South Dakota Jackrabbits at Saluki Stadium, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerDE)

The Jackrabbits continued to put pressure on the Southern defensive line and rallied to tally another touchdown on the board on a five-play, 80 yard scoring drive.

With the Dawgs unable to score, SDSU continued to attack holes in the defense scoring another unanswered touchdown in nine plays to put the Jackrabbits up by 19 points.

SIU was able to tally another touchdown on the board just as time expired in the third quarter.

The touchdown was scored on a completed 53-yard pass to Leonard making him the second Saluki senior to score a touchdown in the matchup.

The score closing the third quarter was 50-38 with the Salukis trailing.

Quarter four began with another South Dakota touchdown on a 24-yard rush from running back Pierre Strong.

A sack by SIU sophomore defensive end Anthony Knighton forced SDSU into a fourth down and gave the Dawgs possession of the ball with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Southern ended the fourth with possession of the ball, but was unable to reach the endzone to score.

“We didn’t play good enough to beat a really good football team,” Hill said. “We didn’t do the small things that we needed to do to make it a closer game.”

The Dawgs lost the game 57-38.

The Salukis will take the field again next Saturday, Nov. 17 at North Dakota State University for their final game of the season. Kick-off is set for 2:30 p.m.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.