Strong Jackrabbit defense leads to Saluki loss

By Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter

The SIU Salukis fell 28-10 to the Jackrabbits (4-1) at today’s game at South Dakota State.

Prior to this matchup, the teams have met nine times with the Salukis winning three of those nine games. Most recently, South Dakota State defeated SIU 58-37 in 2018.

Jackrabbit sophomore running back Pierre Strong had 229 yards and one touchdown in the game, and the South Dakota State defense held the Salukis to only 10 points. 

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A false start by South Dakota State on a third and one prevented the Jackrabbits from getting a first down on their first drive of the game.

The Salukis were in South Dakota State territory on their second drive of the game but their drive stalled in no points when Saluki quarterback Karé Lyles was sacked by Jackrabbit junior Don Gardner.

Jackrabbit running back CJ Wilson fumbled the ball on the South Dakota State 20 yard line and Saluki sophomore Makel Calhoun was able to jump on it for the Salukis as Southern Illinois got the ball inside the red zone.

The Jackrabbits’ defense was able to only hold the Salukis to a field goal, although Southern Illinois got the ball in great field position with freshmen Griffin Cerra getting a 31 yard field goal. SIU was leading 3-0 with just over 5:00 left in the opening quarter.

On the South Dakota State next drive, freshman quarterback J’Bore Gibbs threw a 58-yard touchdown to junior Cade Johnson, but the extra point attempt was blocked as the Jackrabbits took their first lead of the game, ending the first quarter 6-3.

The Salukis had their first drive that was looking successful, but a holding penalty cost them and they had to punt the ball away again.

On the next drive the Jackrabbits went for it on fourth and one and were able to get the first down. On that same drive, senior Chase Vinateri increased the Jackrabbits’ lead 9-3 as he made a 39-yard field goal with 2:39 left in the second quarter.

A 31-yard pass from Lyles to senior Avante Cox looked to be the spark that the Saluki offense needed. A fourth down and ten play was exactly what they needed as Lyles threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to senior Nigel Kilby as they took a one point lead at halftime, 10-9.

A 64-yard touchdown run by Strong and a 2 point attempt that was no good gave the Jackrabbits a 15-10 lead with 8:02 left in the third quarter.

A 22-yard punt by Saluki junior Jack Colquhoun gave South Dakota State good field position at the Saluki 47 yard line. The Saluki defense was able to hold on and force a punt by the Jackrabbits.

A 48-yard run by Strong on the Jackrabbits’ next drive helped them score a touchdown on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Gibbs to freshman Jaxon Janke. This gave the Jackrabbits a commanding lead over the Salukis 21-10 with Vinatieri missing another point attempt with 14:34 left in the 4th quarter.

The Salukis went for it on fourth down on the Jackrabbits 45 but turned it over on downs.

The Jackrabbits went for it on their next drive on fourth and seven on the SIU 36 but were unable to get a first down as the Salukis took over on their own 34 yard line. 

On the Salukis next drive Lyles was intercepted by junior Michael Griffin.

Gibbs threw another 4-yard touchdown pass to Janke to go up  28-10.

On the next Salukis drive, they turned it over on downs again on the South Dakota State 35 with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Jackrabbits ran the clock out for the rest of the game and walked away with the victory 28-10.

South Dakota State has now won four straight games and will play in Youngstown State next Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

The Salukis have dropped two straight and will move on to face Illinois State at home next Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter, can be reached at [email protected]

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