Salukis win fifth straight game, become playoff eligible

By Zach Kramer, Sports Reporter

The Southern Illinois Salukis are playoff eligible for the first time since 2009 after their 45-21 victory over Western Illinois..

The Salukis had a big running attack from senior running back D.J. Davis who had 207 yards and two touchdowns. To go along with that, freshman running back Javon Williams had 149 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Salukis entered the contest with a 16-23 record against the Leathernecks.

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The first touchdown of the game came from Davis, who ran the ball for a 13-yard touchdown, giving the Salukis a 7-0 lead. The Salukis maintained this lead through the end of the first quarter.

At the start of the second quarter, junior Landon Lenoir made a catch and fumbled the ball but was ruled down by contact. The Leathernecks tried to challenge the call, but the call stayed confirmed. 

Sophomore kicker Nico Gualdoni hit a 45-yard field goal to give the Salukis a 10-0 lead. 

The Leathernecks got their first touchdown of the game after a 59-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes left in the first half.

The Salukis attempted to get a touchdown when they were within field goal range, but were unable to do so, finishing the half with a 10-7 lead.

On the Salukis’ first drive of the second half, they drove the ball into field goal range, but Gualdoni missed a 41-yard field goal.

The Salukis got good field position on the start of their next drive, taking it to the Western Illinois 45-yard line.

On the next drive, Williams threw a 32-yard pass to Lenoir, taking it all the way to the Leathernecks’ 11-yard line.

Two plays later, sophomore wide receiver Avante Cox ran for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Salukis a 17-7 lead.

The next Saluki touchdown came from Williams with less than two minutes left in the quarter, taking the Salukis to a 24-7 lead. 

Williams scored another touchdown 20 seconds before the quarter ended, bringing the Salukis to a 31-7 lead to end the third quarter.

The Leathernecks were able to throw an 11-yard touchdown just under four minutes into the final quarter, bringing the score to 31-14. 

The Leathernecks attempted an onside kick that was recovered by the Salukis. 

On the Salukis’ next drive, there were two big running plays in a row as Davis had a 24-yard run and Williams had a 23-yard run. The Salukis were able to take it to the Western Illinois 23-yard line. 

Davis scored another touchdown for the Dawgs from seven yards out, taking the score to 38-14.

The Leathernecks converted a fourth down and four on their next drive. Two plays later, the Leathernecks scored with 4:26 left in the game with another 11-yard touchdown. 

Western Illinois attempted another onside kick that was recovered again by the Salukis.

Williams scored on a 2-yard touchdown on the drive, giving the Salukis a 45-21 lead with just under two minutes left in the game.

On the Leathernecks’ final drive, freshman cornerback Chance Bush sealed the deal on an interception, giving the Salukis a 45-21 victory.

The Salukis will play their final game against the North Dakota State Bison (10-0) next Saturday at 2 p.m.

Sports reporter Zach Kramer can be reached at [email protected]

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