SIU coach keeps the faith in his team despite shutout loss

SIU coach keeps the faith in his team despite shutout loss
SIU running back Cameron Walter had a team-high 59 yards rushing in a 42-0 loss to South Dakota. (Photo by Saluki Media Services)

On a day in which his team allowed 42 points, was shut out for the first time in 17 years and his starting quarterback was injured, Nick Hill maintained faith in his Southern Illinois football team.

“I know what kind of guys we have in the locker room, and we’re not 42 points worse than that team over there,” the SIU head coach said after a 42-0 loss in Vermillion, S.D. “If you don’t come out and do the right thing in all phases of the game, things can get away from you. And we weren’t able to get anything going.”

SIU junior quarterback Sam Straub left the game in the first half when he was hit running out of bounds and suffered an injured right hand.

A day after the game, the Southern Illinoisan’s Todd Hefferman reported that Straub has a broken bone in his hand, near his wrist. Straub is expected to miss at least this week’s game against Missouri State.

The Salukis, who fell to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, had five turnovers in the game, including four interceptions by backup quarterback Tanner Hearn.

Two of Hearn’s interceptions were returned for second-half touchdowns.

Seventh-ranked South Dakota (7-1, 4-1) also played most of the game without its starting quarterback. Senior Chris Streveler, one of the top offensive players in FCS, was injured in the first quarter on a hit by SIU linebacker Kyron Watson.

Watson and the SIU defense turned in an impressive performance despite the final score.

The Salukis held South Dakota to 280 total yards, which is 290 below their season average. SIU trailed 21-0 aft half.

“It tough to swallow when you see your defense come out and give up one scoring drive in the second half,” Hill said. “If we were going to make a comeback, (the defense) gave us the ball back enough times.”

On seven second-half drives, however, three ended in interceptions, two on turnovers on downs, one on a punt and one on a missed field goal.

Players of the game

Darrell James had a game-high 105 receiving yards for the Salukis.

SIU wide receiver Raphael Leonard led all players with six receptions.

Salukis running back Cameron Walter averaged 8.4 yards a carry (seven rushes, 59 yards).

SIU safety Ryan Neal had a game-high nine tackles, including six solo stops.

By The Numbers

2 – Tackles for loss for SIU linebacker Markese Jackson, a season high in a single game.

15 – Yards per completion for SIU’s offense in the game.

122 – Yards that SIU outgained South Dakota.

148 – Penalty yards against SIU on 15 infractions.

What’s Next?

Missouri State (2-6, 1-4) at Southern Illinois (4-4, 2-3), 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4

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