Nov. 5, 2011
By Scott Gierman
BROOKINGS, S.D. – Southern Illinois’ comeback fell short, as it could not overcome an explosive first half, losing 45-34 to South Dakota State Saturday.
”The attitude of the team is encouraging,” Coach Dale Lennon said. “It’s just that we need to have some success to make it payoff.”
Kory Faulkner scored on a 15-yard naked bootleg on fourth-and-one with just over 4:00 left in the game, launching SIU (2-7, 1-6) to within a touchdown of SDSU (3-4, 4-6). The extra point missed wide left, leaving the score at 42-34. The Salukis converted on fourth down twice on the drive including a fourth down pass to MyCole Pruitt for 16 yards that took SIU down to SDSU 24.
The Jackrabbits bobbled the ensuing squib kick but recovered at the 35 with 3:53 left. Freshman kicker Justin Syrovatka put the game away with a career-long 47-yard field goal to extend the lead to 11 with 2:54 left in the game.
“It’s frustrating,” Lennon said. “It’s kind of been the trend of our season. The guys never quit. The guys always fight back, but we just don’t have enough to get the win so that’s what you saw today. It has just kind of been the story of our season.”
Jewel Hampton had a career day, setting career highs with 167 yards and 28 carries to go with his two touchdowns. It was the most rushing yards by an SIU running back since Deji Karim ran for 273 against Illinois State on Oct. 10, 2009. Hampton’s 56-yard score more than doubled his previous career long run of 23 yards.
SIU got more pressure on Sumner in the second half, forcing interceptions on consecutive drives. The Salukis took advantage of the good field position, scoring on Hampton’s 56-yard run and then Kory Faulkner’s quarterback sneak to cut the deficit to 35-28.
“We started to drop our linebackers a little bit more (in the second half) and get at them more with four up front and just went to work,” defensive end Kenneth Boatright said.
Boatright recorded a sack and added another tackle for a loss.
Sumner didn’t see as much pressure in the first half when he threw for 250 of his 328 yards, hitting Dale Moss and Aaron Rollin for two touchdowns apiece.
The Salukis defense started the third quarter with a blocked punt and a pair of interceptions. Mike McElroy had two interceptions in the game. He now has 13 in his career, moving him to fourth on the school's all-time list.
“At halftime, there wasn’t a lot of yelling going on,” Lennon said. “We challenged the pride factor, and we talked about how to get back in the game. Especially with the wind conditions the way they were, we knew we’d have a chance to get a couple scores potentially in the third quarter if we could play some defense and get the field position.”