SIU's young gridiron contingent lost another game in South Dakota Saturday.
Squashed 49-14 two weeks ago by South Dakota State, the Dawgs took another thrashing by a South Dakota college football team. This time it was 42-0 compliments of the South Dakota Coyotes.
The Coyotes didn't even have its "leader of the pack", starting quarterback Steve Streveler, who was put out of the game compliments of a hit by Saluki linebacker Kyron Watson (eight tackles) on the first drive. Backup Austin Simmons was summoned into action for South Dakota.
Oddly enough, SIU lost its starting quarterback Sam Staub a few minutes later. Straub received a broken bone in his throwing arm wrist and was replaced by backup Tanner Hearn. Hill said Monday Straub will be out 4-6 weeks. Hearn threw for 231 yards and Simmons only had 91 yards, but Austin made his completion count by throwing two touchdowns in the first half to help give the Coyotes a 21-0 lead.
The Saluki offense couldn't get into rhythm, and the defense struggled, too. But the SIU defense did not struggle on execution. It just couldn't execute without having an official throw a penalty flag.
Incredibly, in one first half scoring series, SIU defensive backs were flagged for three consecutive interference penalties in a row, resulting in 30 yards and three first downs in an 80-yard drive.
On the offensive side, SIU had the ball in the redzone four times in the game and came out with zero points. One Saluki drive went to the eight-yard line, but SIU missed a chip shot 29-yard field goal. And with third and goal in a second-half drive the Dawgs could not gain an inch on two tries to score a touchdown.
SIU's Defense did give up three scores in the first half. But they settled down enough in the last two quarters to give its offense plenty of time to get back in the game.
The Coyotes were also without its starting cornerbacks who were suspended. But that apparently didn't matter to the South Dakota defensive back playing Saturday as they picked off four Hearn passes that stifled Saluki drives. In fact, Andrew Grey (97-yard interception) and Mike Johnson (79-yard interception) took two of those Hearn miscues back for touchdowns.
"Our Defense actually only gave up 100 yards to the 'Yote offense in the second half," Saluki Coach Nick Hill said. "I told the team after the game that 'that team over there' was not 42 points better than us."
Hill said he was proud of the way his backup quarterback played when forced into action.
"Those interceptions were not because he was nervous," Hill said. "He played confidently out there."
The running of the Saluki offense will probably get better given that Hearn will have a week to learn the game plan. Hearn had few reps in last week's preparations.
SIU's offense was not impotent even without that prep. The Dawgs outgained the Coyotes 402 to 280, had more first downs (21-17) and were almost even in time of possession.
Little used Walter Cameron ran for an 8.9 yard-per-carry clip (59 total yards rushing) but SIU will have to up its rushing game and not make mistakes (four turnovers and 148 yards of penalties) to get a win over Missouri State University. Kickoff is at 1 p.m., at Saluki Stadium.