19th-ranked Salukis clip football Bears
The 19th-ranked Southern Illinois Salukis had too much offense, defense and special teams and came on strong after a solid Missouri State start to hand the MSU Bears a 27-17 defeat in Gateway Football Conference action Saturday at Plaster Field. The Bears’ seventh straight loss dropped them to 1-8 for the season and 0-5 in Gateway play. The Salukis snapped a two-game losing streak and climbed to 3-2 in the Gateway and 6-2 overall.
Missouri State had leads of 3-0 and 10-3 in the game and was having some success moving the football but couldn’t sustain it and the Salukis punched up two touchdowns in the last five minutes of the second period to take a 17-10 halftime lead. SIU then tacked on a third TD late in the third period and a field goal midway in the fourth to put the issue out of doubt before the Bears put together a late drive that got MSU its second touchdown in the closing minutes of the contest.
The Bears held SIU below the Salukis’ rushing average for a contest but SIU QB Nick Hill was a solid 15-of-19 passing for 165 yards and a TD and helped his cause with 57 net yards rushing.
Missouri State opened with a 70-yard drive capped by a Nathan Stokes field goal on the Bears’ first possession. SIU answered with a three-pointer from Craig Coffin to tie the game a minute into the second period. SIU got the ball back on a punt but a fumbled handoff was recovered by Bears’ DE Sid Rone who carried the ball 12 yards into the end zone for a 10-3 MSU lead five minutes into the quarter.
SIU blocked a punt after the next Bears’ possession, got the ball on the Missouri State 39 and scored in two plays as TB Arkee Whitlock went in from the eight. SIU again got good field position on the next Bears’ punt and moved 48 yards with a nine-yard pass from Hill to TE Braden Jones to make it 17-10 at the half.
The teams swapped punts through most of the third quarter, and a 51-yarder by the Bears’ Stokes pinned SIU back on its own four. The Salukis covered 96 yards in 10 plays with Whitlock gaining the final four to make it 24-10 as the third quarter ended. SIU tacked on a field goal midway in the final period and the Bears got back onto the scoreboard with a 55-yard drive capped by a one-yard run by QB Tyler Horner with 2:38 to play to close out the scoring.
In addition to Hill’s 57 rushing yards, Whitlock gained 84 on 20 carries. TB Michael Cooper ran for 42 for the Bears but losses kept the Missouri State net to 42. Horner hit 24-of-40 passes for 221 yards in his second start for the Bears with WR Tamarkus McElvane catching six for 62 yards while TE Pay Hall had five catches for 73 yards.
Stokes will retain his league punting lead as he averaged 47.0 yards on four punts on the day.
The Bears hit the road to face Illinois State in a league game next Saturday (Nov. 4) in Normal, Ill. Kickoff time is 1:30 p.m. The Bruins then return home to close the season against Western Illinois at Plaster Field Nov. 11.