Jackrabbits fall short on Hobo Day
Southern Illinois scored the first 17 points of the second half and held off a late South Dakota State comeback bid for a 27-24 victory in the 100th Hobo Day game Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Salukis evened their record at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU, which came into the game ranked seventh in the Football Championship Subdivision, dropped its third straight game to fall to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Both teams put together long drives to break into the scoring column early in the game. On its first possession of the game, SIU marched 80 yards on nine plays, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kory Faulkner.
The Jackrabbits responded with a methodical 21-play, 85-yard drive that chewed up nearly 11 minutes and bridged the first and second quarters. SDSU was a perfect 7-for-7 on third-down attempts on the drive, the last of which was a 1-yard touchdown run by Zach Zenner.
The two squads traded field goals later in the second quarter as SIU’s Thomas Kinney connected on a 35-yarder and the Jackrabbits’ Justin Syrovatka responded with a 44-yarder with 3 minutes, 6 seconds to play in the first half.
SIU appeared on the verge of taking the lead into halftime, but Jackrabbit linebacker Charles Elmore picked off a Faulkner pass along the right sideline and rambled 89 yards for a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining to give SDSU a 17-10 lead.
The Salukis, however, took control in the third quarter, cashing in on their opening drive as Faulkner found John Lantz behind the SDSU defense for a 59-yard touchdown pass that knotted the game at 17-all.
SDSU came up empty in SIU territory on its next two possessions thanks to a blocked punt and lost fumble. The Salukis converted the blocked field goal into three points as Kinney gave SIU the lead for good with a 42-yard field goal with 4:31 remaining in the third quarter.
SIU built the lead to 27-17 midway through the fourth quarter, grinding out a nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Faulkner.
After the Jackrabbits lost their second fumble of the day, SDSU forced a turnover of its own as Elmore stripped the ball and R.C. Kilgore came up with the recovery at the SIU 49.
The SDSU defense forced a three-and-out on the next Saluki possession and took over at its own 25 with just under three minutes to play after a punt. The Jackrabbits moved the ball to the SIU 40, but three straight incomplete passes ended the drive and the ballgame.
Total offense was nearly even as SIU held a slim 374-367 advantage in total yards. Malcolm Agnew ran for 105 yards on 17 carries, while Faulkner finished the day 13-of-22 passing for 185 yards. MyCole Pruitt caught five passes for 75 yards, with Lantz finishing the day with three catches for 89 yards.
Sumner took over the SDSU career passing yardage lead during the game, finishing the afternoon 23-for-37 for 276 yards. Trevor Wesley caught five passes for 41 yards.
Zenner crossed the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this season, gaining 112 yards on 31 carries.
Andrew Brown and Kilgore each posted nine tackles to lead the Jackrabbits. D.J. Cameron registered a game-high 11 tackles for SIU, while Bryan Presume recorded 10 tackles, including a pair of sacks.
SDSU returns to action Oct. 12 at Western Illinois. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill.
NOTES: The all-time series between SDSU and Southern Illinois is tied at three games apiece … the Jackrabbits had their four-game Hobo Day winning streak snapped and fell to 59-36-5 all-time in their homecoming game … Sumner finished the day with 6,165 career passing yards as he passed both Ted Wahl (6,016 yards from 1985-88) and Ryan Berry (6,023 yards from 2005-08) for the Jackrabbit career lead … Zenner posted his 14th career 100-yard game and moved into fourth place on the SDSU career rushing chart with 3,372, passing Dan Sonnek (3,304 yards from 1984-87) … Elmore became the ninth different Jackrabbit player to record an interception this season … attendance was 11,250