Salukis pull away late in 36-19 win over SEMO

    Malcolm Agnew led the Salukis with 127 rushing yards.

    Malcolm Agnew led the Salukis with 127 rushing yards.
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    Sept. 21, 2013

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    ST. LOUIS – Southern Illinois wore down Southeast Missouri State and pulled away late en route to a 36-19 victory Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. In the first football game played at the current home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Salukis (2-2) didn’t rely on the longball, instead executing a steady rushing attack. SIU rushed for 153 yards in the second half and scored 17 unanswered points against the Redhawks (0-3) in the final 18 minutes of the game.

    "The guys had a very good second half,” SIU Coach Dale Lennon said. “We were very focused both offensively and defensively and that was very good to see, especially in the fourth quarter, where in the past we've let teams come back and make a game out of it."

    Thomas Kinney’s 25-yard field goal with 2:48 left in the third quarter broke a 19-19 tie and gave the Salukis the lead for good. From there, Southern added a pair of touchdowns to put the game away.

    Malcolm Agnew led the rushing attack for Southern Illinois. He carried the ball 23 times and ran for 127 yards, 104 of which came after the half. He helped SIU break a streak of 14 consecutive games without a 100-yard rusher.

    "We've been talking about the running game all year long, so it was good to see it in full force today,” Lennon said. “Malcolm just had a good feel for it. He did a great job cutting on the field, and running the football seemed to come to him fairly easily. For us, it was an easy decision to keep feeding him."

    With SIU holding onto a 19-13 lead midway through the third quarter, Southeast Missouri tied the game at 19-19 when Kyle Snyder completed a pass to Paul McRoberts over the middle, and McRoberts broke free for a 75-yard touchdown. However, the Redhawks failed to take their first lead of the game when Alex Knight missed his second extra point attempt of the game.

    After the long touchdown, the Saluki defense held its ground, forcing two punts then two turnovers on SEMO’s final four possessions. Bryan Presume sealed the game and allowed the Salukis to run out the clock when he picked off Snyder at the SIU 25-yard line and returned it 34 yards to the SEMO 41, just under the three minute mark.

    "We made some plays out there today, and we made a few turnovers,” Presume said. “That's how we play defense. That's a good team that we just faced. To be able to blow them out like that was good for our team."

    Southeast began the game with an uncharacteristic pass-heavy attack. Snyder threw for 125 yards and two touchowns in the first half. After the break, the Salukis controlled the ball for over 22 of the final 30 minutes.

    After suffering an injury in last week’s game, Kory Faulkner’s status for the game was in question. He started Saturday and threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns. However, he did throw his first two interceptions of the season.

    "Kory practiced all Wednesday and Thursday,” Lennon said. “After Wednesday's practice, we didn't know if there would be any residue as far as being sore and not being able to do anything Thursday. When he came back Thursday and felt good, we knew then that he was good to go."