Salukis rebound with 31-10 win over Charleston

    Ryan West filled in for the injured Kory Faulkner and threw a touchdown on his second career pass attempt.

    Ryan West filled in for the injured Kory Faulkner and threw a touchdown on his second career pass attempt.
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    Sept. 14, 2013

    Final Stats |  Notes |  Photo Gallery 

    CARBONDALE, Ill. – After a slow start, Southern Illinois took home a convincing 31-10 victory over Division II Charleston (0-2) Saturday afternoon at Saluki Stadium. The Salukis (1-2) pulled away with 24 unanswered points over the second and third quarters to take a 31-3 lead.

    Southern was sloppy at times, fumbling the ball six times. However, the defense held the Golden Eagles to 172 yards of total offense. That eventually allowed the Saluki offense to overpower Charleston and give SIU its first win of the season.

    “We know that getting a win is crucial,” linebacker Carl Bivens said. “The focus of the week was where it needed to be, but we did give up a couple big plays. We had some mistakes, and we could do better. Although overall on defense, I feel like we did our job well.”

    SIU starting quarterback Kory Faulkner suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in the final minute of the first half and did not return. The injury is not believed to be season-ending, but Lennon said Faulkner’s status for next week has not yet been determined. Faulkner has started the last 21 games for the Salukis.

    “The X-ray results state nothing is broken,” Lennon said. “As far as how fast he can heal, that’s all guessing and speculation. We’ll wait and see how he’s doing on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

    Redshirt freshman Ryan West replaced Faulkner and completed his first three pass attempts of the game. On his second throw, he delivered a 22-yard touchdown to LaSteven McKinney. McKinney made an impressive leaping grab on the play, which extended the Saluki lead to 21-3 heading into the half.

    “That took a lot of pressure off my back,” West said. “I think getting my feet wet and completing those three passes in a row was a huge thing for me. It made me relax a lot more, and it slowed down the defense a lot for me.”

    West completed half of his 10 pass attempts in the game and threw for 66 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one interception.

    “Sometimes it’s best to just throw a kid in and not give him time to think,” Lennon said. “With that, he did pretty well. Then halftime came, and he had a little time to think about it. There are some things that he will have to learn, but it’s good that he got that experience.”

    Southern wore down the Golden Eagles in the second half, rushing for 160 yards after the break. Malcolm Agnew led SIU with 97 yards on 14 carries, all of which came in the second half.

    “I felt very comfortable out there,” Agnew said. “The O-line did a really good job opening up the holes. We had a good scheme prepared.”

    With a relatively comfortable lead, a few Salukis saw their first action of the season. However, Lennon saw room for improvement as his team turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter.

    “I think we let our guard down,” Lennon said, “and in football when you do that, you leave yourself open to strange occurrences. We didn’t make it an easy game for us.”