Jacks Sandwich Salukis

Drue Aman

Drue AmanSports Editor

Two weeks ago, preseason ninth ranked South Dakota State was searching for their first victory, a sign of improvement and respect.

Climbing back into the Missouri Valley Conference race was irrelevant, they wanted to win for themselves, forget about anybody else.

Today, they sit a game back of first place and might be the most impressive team in the Missouri Valley since the calendar flipped to October.

Saturday was a conference road victory, and a convincing one at that. SDSU rallied to a 31-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter and defeated No. 15 Southern Illinois 31-10 at the new Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. SDSU’s win was its second straight win over a ranked opponent.

It was a performance with bright spots in every facet of the game. Kyle Minett and Tyler Duffy combined to rush for 196 yards, the defense forced two turnovers and scored their first defensive touchdown, and the offensive line kept Thomas O’Brien’s uniform clean en route to the lopsided defeat against a Southern Illinois team they had never beaten.

“It’s what we want to do,” Minett said in the post game press conference of beating conference opponents. “We want to approach every game, one at a time and just try to get a win every time, that’s what we have to do.”

After on 0-4 start, wins are in high demand, and it was a spectacular performance from senior cornerback Cole Brodie to supply one more week’s win in a conference race completely up for grabs.

Brodie’s 87-yard interception return for a touchdown was the game’s first score after a long and methodical Salukis drive deep into SDSU territory. He may as well have kept running, Southern Illinois was chasing the Jacks the rest of the game anyway.

“He’s not gonna waste a second, he’s not gonna waste a play or a word to his football team,” Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier said after beating close friend Dale Lennon – the Salukis head coach – for the first time. “He’s trying to do the best he can, and he’s a great football player.”

Brodie – who captured his second interception of the game on Southern Illinois’ last offensive possession – was the highlight of a suffocating SDSU defense that forced Southern Illinois to punt in four straight possessions to open the game, then scored on the Brodie interception return on its fifth defensive series on the day. Salukis quarterback Paul McIntosh was replaced at halftime after going 3-of-13 for only 40 yards in the first half.

Chris Dieker, his replacement to begin the second half after serving a first half suspension for disciplinary reasons, fared better and procured Southern Illinois’ only touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

“They make you earn everything that you get,” Lennon said of SDSU’s defense. “You’ve got to be sharp on your assignments, they just play very sound defense.”

“They just didn’t give us any glimmer of hope.”

Offensively, SDSU gave the defense more than a one-score deficit for the first time all season, scoring its fourth touchdown on the game after kicker Kyle Harris’ pooch kick landed at the 28-yard line. Redshirt freshman R.C. Kilgore landed on the loose ball and Kyle Minett scampered from 22-yards out three plays later, making it 28-3 and punctuating the Jacks’ second impressive victory in as many weeks.

“There shouldn’t be a lot of doubt in our football team about the fact that we can play good football,” Stiegelmeier said.

#1.1717679:2470390393.png:Brodie.png:Cole Brodie returns a punt Saturday. Brodie had a 32-yard punt return and intercepted two passes, one of them an 86 return for a touchdown.:Submitted Photo by Eric Landwehr#1.1717717:2138754296.png:Duffy.png:Runningback Tyler Duffy searches for a seam against the Salukis Saturday. Duffy accounted for 52 of SDSU?s 194 rushing yards in the 31-10 victory.:Submitted Photo by Eric Landwehr#1.1717694:3527394726.png:Dieker_sack.png:Andy Mink and Anthony Peete sack Southern Illinois quarterback Chris Dieker during Saturday?s game in Carbondale, Ill. SDSU had three sacks on the day and held the Salukis to 10 points for their second straight victory.:Submitted Photo by Eric Lanwehr