Nov. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Southern Illinois

BROOKINGS, S.D. - No. 3 Southern Illinois dominated No. 9 South Dakota State in a 34-15 victory Saturday at Coughlin Alumni Stadium to secure at least a share of SIU's fifth Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship and its seventh-straight playoff appearance.

The win was the 13th conference victory in a row for the Salukis, as they tied Northern Iowa's MVFC record for the most consecutive league victories. Southern Illinois has now won eight-straight games this year and stands at 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference. The Dawgs can secure the outright league title with a win next weekend against Missouri State in the final regular season game at McAndrew Stadium.

"I thought our coaching staff and players had a very good week of preparation and our players did a great job of executing," head coach Dale Lennon said. "We took advantage of every opportunity they gave us today. It's a good win, but at the same time it is game No. 9 and now we have to move on to game No. 10. We can't afford to lose our edge and can't be too satisfied with what we've accomplished so far."

South Dakota State (7-2, 6-1 MVFC) came into the game with the nation's top scoring defense that only allowed 89 yards rushing a game, but the Salukis had a field day on offense. Deji Karim became the first running back to rush for over 100 yards against the Jackrabbits this season, as he had 127 yards on 21 carries. SIU as a team racked up 280 yards on the ground and 388 of total offense.

The Saluki defense held SDSU to 14 yards rushing and had six sacks against the Jackrabbit offensive line that came into the game with just nine sacks allowed in their first eight games. SDSU finished with 342 yards of total offense, but 154 of that came in the fourth quarter after the final outcome was pretty much set in stone.

Lance Caldwell had a pair of interceptions for the Dawgs, as they have now picked off a pass in 10-straight games. He returned one of his picks 75-yards for a touchdown right before halftime and that was the fifth longest interception return for a touchdown in school history.

Redshirt freshman Paul McIntosh put up good numbers in the win. He threw for two touchdowns and had 184 yards of total offense (108 passing, 76 rushing). Jeff Evans and John Good were the recipients of his two touchdown passes and junior kicker Kyle Dougherty made a pair of field goals.