Miscues fell Salukis in conference-opening loss

Miscues fell Salukis in conference-opening loss
South Dakota's Randy Baker celebrates one of his two touchdowns in the Coyotes win at Southern Illinois Saturday night. (photo courtesy goyotes.com)

Southern Illinois racked up yards but fell short when it came to scoring touchdowns in Saturday night's loss to South Dakota.

Despite spending much the game in opposing territory, the Salukis dropped a 31-24 decision to the visiting Coyotes in the first Missouri Valley Football Conference contest for both teams.

SIU repeatedly made mistakes, ranging from costly turnovers to ill-timed penalties to mental errors. Amazingly, the Salukis ran 101 plays and racked up 527 total yards of offense yet could only muster seven second-half points (which came with one minute left to play).

Southern surrendered 21 points in the decisive third quarter as South Dakota took control of the game. Coyotes quarterback Austin Simmons completed 18-of-35 throws for a game-high 333 yards. All three of his touchdown passes came in the third quarter, including an 89-yarder to Dakarai Allen.

"It felt like in the first half we had things going, and we stopped ourselves just too many times," SIU head coach Nick Hill said in the postgame. "It felt like we had a good plan going in, just didn't execute it."

South Dakota evened its overall record at 2-2 and is 1-0 in the Missouri Valley. Southern Illinois slipped to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.


Prime time performers

D.J. Davis

D.J. Davis

SIU's D.J. Davis carried the ball 21 times for 117 yards, topping 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game. The last SIU player to do that was Deji Karim in 2009. 

In addition, Nigel Kilby had seven catches for 109 yards. He’s the first SIU tight end with 100 yards receiving since Adam Fuehne had 130 at Indiana in 2015.

Streak ender

South Dakota and Southern Illinois first met in the MVFC opener of the 2014 season. The series has been marked by the home team winning each game. Saturday's road win by South Dakota broke that streak.

Milestone victory

With the victory, South Dakota's Bob Nielson earned his 200th win as a collegiate head coach. He is the 91st college football coach to win 200 games. Nielson, who also coached at Western Illinois, became the 17th active NCAA coach to achieve the milestone.

Blackout cancer

The Salukis wore special Blackout Cancer jerseys, which fans were able to bid online for the namesake jerseys in honor of a friend or family member impacted by cancer. It's the fourth year proceeds from the jersey bidding will benefit the new SIH Cancer Institute, which opened earlier this year. 

Former Saluki safety and Academic All-American Mike McElroy initiated the "Black Out Cancer" game at SIU in 2011. The Salukis were the first college football team in the nation to develop and implement the "Black Out Cancer" game, which has raised more than $225,000 for the SIH Cancer Institute. The top 102 bidders are matched with the player jersey of their choice.

5 Stats That Stood Out

3 – Southern Illinois turnovers (South Dakota had one)

4 – SIU fumbles (the Salukis only lost one but it was late in the game and virtually sealed the South Dakota win)

7 – Southern Illinois points in the second half

16 – SIU penalties for 138 yards

236 – Total yards by SIU's D.J. Davis (117 rushing, 36 receiving, 83 returning kickoffs and punts)

Up next

Southern Illinois travels to Youngstown State for a Missouri Valley game. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

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