Ken Boatright had a career best 2.0 sacks in Saturday's game.
Sept. 29, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – A defensive struggle turned into a lopsided affair as Indiana State scored 17 fourth quarter points to defeat Southern Illinois, 24-3, Saturday night at Saluki Stadium. The Sycamores outlasted the Saluki defense to break a nine-game losing streak against the Dawgs.
“This is a tough place to play,” ISU Coach Trent Miles said. “We haven't had any success here...or anywhere against Southern Illinois.”
After both teams combined to go three-and-out on the first seven drives of the second half, Indiana State shifted the battle in its favor by winning the struggle for field position. The Sycamores picked off two of Kory Faulkner’s passes in SIU territory and turned those turnovers into 10 points to grab the momentum.
“We couldn't get the stop and get the ball back when we needed to,” SIU Coach Dale Lennon said. “We played with a great effort but we weren't strong enough to play the way we needed to, and offensively we didn't help.”
ISU’s Shakir Bell dragged two Saluki defenders into the end zone for a two-yard score to give the Sycamores a 14-3 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. Three minutes later Bell fell into the end zone for another two-yard score to extend the lead to 21-3 and seal the game. Bell had only one run of over 20 yards but still finished the game with 160 yards on 33 carries.
“We battled but we wore down though,” Lennon said. “This is the type of game where you have to play the full 60 minutes. Especially when it gets to the fourth quarter. They were able to impose their will on us.”
Bell’s second score was set up by Donovan Layne’s interception, which he returned nine yards to the SIU 31-yard line. Faulkner was throwing on the run all game and threw three interceptions.
“(Faulkner) ended up forcing some passes,” SIU Coach Dale Lennon said. “Some of that was due to the fact that he didn't have a lot of time with the protection. With some of the things that ISU did well, we were forced into passing situations. They were using a three-man rush and getting pressure on us.”
Both teams were able to get pressure on the quarterback, and neither team had many opportunities throwing the ball deep. In fact, the longest play of the game for either team was a pass that tipped off MyCole Pruitt’s fingers and into John Lantz’s hands for a 33-yard reception on the Salukis’ first drive of the game.
That set up Southern’s only score of the day, a 27-yard field goal by Austin Johnson with 9:57 left in the first quarter. It was SIU’s first made field goal of the season.
SIU’s defense was able to pin Indiana State deep in its own territory in the first half. Only once did the Sycamores advance the ball past their own 40-yard line before the break.
SIU’s front seven got penetration and was able to rush on third and long. Eze Obiora had one of SIU’s three sacks, all of which came in the first half. Ken Boatright had the other two.
“The focal point of their offense is Bell,” Obiora said. “Our motto is play run, have fun. Once we stop the run and get them in second and long, third and long, we just have to get after them.”
Indiana State’s first touchdown came in the second quarter after the Sycamores caught a break. Bell turned the corner against the SIU defense for a 26-yard run, but Emmanuel Souarin stripped the ball at the SIU 18. Bell was ruled down before the fumble as a whistle blew the play dead, although replay seemed to show he was not yet down.
The drive continued, and Sycamore quarterback Mike Perish found Tanner Riley in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass to give ISU a 7-3 lead.
SIU's leading rusher, Mika'il McCall left the game in the third quarter with an injury and did not return, although he was able to walk off the field without any help. His status has not been determined.
The Salukis dropped to 2-3 with the loss and will try to even their record next week at Illinois State.
“This has happened to many teams before and they've succeeded,” Obiora said, “and we're no different. We just have to keep believing and eventually we'll get a break.”