On a cold and cloudy Hobo Day, the Jackrabbits lost their third straight game this season as Southern Illinois defeated the Jackrabbits, further dampening SDSU’s hopes of another post-season appearance.
Mistakes cost the Jackrabbits this game. Southern Illinois squeaked out a 27-24 win to spoil Hobo Day for SDSU. Over the last three weeks SDSU has turned the ball over and have consistently shot themselves in the foot with penalties or poor execution. Turnovers will continue to be the focal point down the stretch for the rest of the year. After not turning the ball over in their first three games, the Jacks will have to limit their mistakes to win football games after turning the ball over in three consecutive games now.
“Tough loss,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We gave ourselves a chance which was exciting, which says a lot about our guys towards the end, but the football game is 60 minutes … bottom line is we didn’t play well enough to win.”
Mistakes costs SDSU
While the Jacks are halfway through their schedule thus far and sitting at .500, the pressure is on. SDSU will host two more home games this season against Northern Iowa and Indiana State. The field wasn’t in the best of conditions but it didn’t seem to slow down SIU.
“We just adjusted to it we played in a game similar to this at Bliss Stadium, field wise,” Salukis linebacker Bryan Presume said. “It wasn’t too much of a deal for us, we just adjusted to it and it turned out pretty good.”
Two key fumbles propelled SIU past the Jackrabbits last Saturday. Shortly after a 48-yard catch and run by Cam Jones to help put SDSU in position to put some points on the board and potentially tie the ballgame, he fumbled the ball at the Salukis 21-yard line. His fumble prevented an opportunity to tie up the game, which would later be a costly mistake for the Jackrabbits.
A comeback effort
A Zach Zenner fumble late into the fourth quarter looked like SDSU’s chances were through and maybe the Jacks no longer had any gas left in the tank. But the Salukis only had the ball for two plays following the fumble as Charles Elmore stepped up two consecutive plays stopping Malcolm Agnew for no gain and then flying off the edge on the second play knocking the ball loose from SIU’s wide receiver LaSteven McKinney and was recovered by R.C. Kilgore giving the Jacks another possession.
The Jackrabbits struck back quickly coming within three points of SIU after a one-yard Zenner touchdown run with four minutes remaining in the game. Perhaps the most pivotal play of the game came when Sumner couldn’t hook up with Trevor Wesley on a controversial fourth down and two on the Salukis 40-yard-line.
“I am glad I’m a coach and not an official,” Stiegelmeier said. “You make a call that’s a penalty, always. You call it like the rule is written … I didn’t expect anything, I expected the right call and that’s what they felt was the right call.”
A disgruntled and disappointed Austin Sumner touched on his mindset going into a fourth quarter drive down by three.
“Confident, wasn’t the first time we’ve been in that situation,” Sumner said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”
SIU converted a blocked Justin Syrovatka field goal in the third quarter for three points adding on to the list of crucial mistakes that held SDSU back last Saturday.
Sumner set the record for career passing at SDSU with 6,165 yards passing both Ted Wahl (6,016 yards from 1985-88) and Ryan Berry (6,023 yards from 2005-08) for most all-time.
The most talked about play in the first half was Elmore’s pick six at the end of the first half. Elmore made his presence felt with the interception off of SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner that gave SDSU a 17-10 lead going into halftime.
Elmore keyed in on his big interception and how confident the team was with the field conditions throughout the game.
“Quarterback was eying him [Pruitt] down the whole game he was obviously his favorite target, coaches made a great call and I took him out and was able to capitalize,” Elmore said. “We felt confident about this is our style of football, we’re from South Dakota so we felt like we had the upper hand, we just failed to execute at times.”
SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner shares his thoughts on what he saw on the interception, keeping a positive attitude after the turnover.
“I definitely probably shouldn’t have put it there just being in that situation, with time left on the clock, first down, definitely wished I would have thrown that away,” Faulkner said. “He made a great play on that, not a lot was open but I should have put it over the top on second and 10, it happens, got to have a next play mentality.”
Salukis head coach Dale Lennon expressed his views on the costly mistake just before halftime and how his team rallied after the half.
“First half, the last thing you want to do is end it the way we ended it where we are driving it feeling good about our chances going into half time with a lead and then throw a pick six,” Lennon said. “But that’s the game … we came out probably as focused as we’ve ever been coming out of a halftime break, we used that to play the way we did.”
SDSU will return for their next home game Saturday Oct. 26 against Northern Iowa.