Impressive SIU gets back to .500 while grounding Redbirds

Impressive SIU gets back to .500 while grounding Redbirds
SIU receiver Sam Bonansinga (right) celebrates catching one of four TD passes by quarterback Sam Straub against Illinois State. (Photo by SIUSalukis.com)

CARBONDALE -- Winning their third game of the season in October was an achievement that wasn’t lost on the Southern Illinois football team Saturday.

“There’s a huge difference between 3-3 and 2-4,” SIU quarterback Sam Straub said. “(Being) 3-3 gives us a way to get to 4-3 and to keep building.”

A year after winning its third game in November and finishing 4-7, the Salukis roared back to .500 this season with a 42-7 Missouri Valley Football Conference rout of Illinois State in SIU’s homecoming game Saturday.

Straub threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns as the Salukis (3-3, 1-2 MVFC) raced to a 28-0 lead and never looked back.

While SIU’s offense rolled up 549 total yards, the Saluki defense was equally dominant.

SIU flustered Illinois State quarterback Jake Kolbe into three interceptions while sacking him three times and forcing two fumbles.

“We played with frustration,” said SIU safety Jeremy Chinn, who had one of the three interceptions. “We got tired of losing. We wanted to prove a point that we’re a good football team.”

That proof came early as sophomore running back D.J. Davis caught two TD passes in the first half. Meanwhile, the SIU defense limited the Redbirds (4-2, 2-1) to 129 first-half yards.

Being .500 with five games remaining allows SIU to believe the FCS playoffs are still within reach.

“We still have a chance,” Chinn said. “We’re still alive. Getting back to .500 puts a lot of confidence in our heads.”

ISU dropped seven spots to No. 24 in this week’s STATS FCS media poll after its second loss in a row.

“It’s amazing what two weeks have done,” said ISU head coach Brock Spack, whose team has lost the past two weeks by a combined 56 points. “Two weeks ago, we were riding high on the hog and in the Top 10 (in the polls). Now we’ve gotten our butt kicked twice.”

Players of the game

SIU quarterback Sam Straub threw for 368 yards, the 10th-highest single-game total in Saluki history.

Florida Atlantic transfer Antonio Hadden, a redshirt freshman wide receiver, caught five passes for 97 yards in his ISU season debut.

SIU linebacker Cody Crider had three of SIU’s 13 pass breakups in the game.’

DJ Davis, SIU’s sophomore running back, had 165 all-purpose yards and two receiving touchdowns.

SIU senior cornerback Craig James had punt returns of 33 and 30 yards, one of which set up a touchdown.

By The Numbers

2 – Sacks in back-to-back games by SIU true freshman defensive lineman Sam Skinner.

3 – Interceptions by SIU’s defense (Jeremy Chinn, Craig James and Roman Tatum).

5 – SIU players with at least five rushing attempts, led by QB Sam Straub (10) and RB Cameron Walter (10).

5 – Players who tied for the SIU team lead with five tackles each.

181 – Season-high rushing total allowed by ISU.

329 – Yards gained above the average allowed this season by ISU’s defense (220).

What’s Next?

Southern Illinois at Indiana State, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 at Terre Haute, Ind.

South Dakota at Illinois State, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21 at Normal, Ill.

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