A defensive touchdown on the home team’s opening drive gave the SIU football team enough points for a road victory Saturday at Missouri State University, as the defense allowed only 6 points in a 14-6 win.
Senior cornerback Emmanuel Souarin picked off Missouri State quarterback Ashton Glaser and took the ball 44 yards the opposite way for the touchdown. The score gave the Salukis a seven-point advantage with 10 minutes and one second left in the first quarter.
The Salukis had success moving the ball on the next SIU drive, highlighted by a 36-yard scamper by senior running back Mulku Kalokoh. Two plays after the run, junior quarterback Kory Faulkner found Kalokoh through the air for a 12-yard touchdown pass to up the score to 14-0.
“I think the key stat in the game was that we didn’t turn the ball over,” coach Dale Lennon said. “If you don’t turn the ball over, you don’t put your defense in a bad situation. We didn’t play all that well offensively, but when you limit turnovers, you give yourself a chance to win.”
The Bears appeared ready to punch in a touchdown after a Missouri State field goal and Saluki punt, but a fourth-down stop by the Saluki defense from the 2-yard line gave the ball back to SIU. It was a crucial stop for a defense that has allowed seven red-zone touchdowns in 10 chances this year.
The Saluki offense struggled throughout the remainder of the contest, failing to convert on any of its 13 third downs, and managed only 198 total yards.
Faulkner finished the day with 11 completions on 23 attempts for 55 yards and a score.
To compare, Missouri State had success moving the ball against the Saluki defense and finished with 362 total yards, but the team failed to find the end zone.
“There were several times in the first half when we had them on their heels and should have walked into the end zone, but we didn’t,” Missouri State coach Terry Allen said.
Missouri State has struggled to put numbers on the scoreboard all season and came into Saturday’s game ranked last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 13 points per game.
The Bears did a fine job containing MVFC scoring leader Mika’il McCall, as the junior running back carried the ball 15 times for 80 yards and was kept out of the end zone for the first time this season. Seventy-three of McCall’s rushing yards came in the second half.
Trailing by eight with the clock running down in the fourth quarter, the Bears had a last chance to piece together a touchdown drive to tie the game, but the opportunity was stolen on the first play by sophomore cornerback Courtney Richmond as he intercepted Glaser to seal the game. The pair of interceptions were the Saluki defense’s first of the season.
SIU looks to continue its winning streak at home Saturday against Indiana State University. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.