Nov. 28, 2009

Courtesy of Southern Ill.

CARBONDALE, Ill. - No. 3 seed Southern Illinois forced six turnovers and had two different 100-yard rushers as the Salukis rolled over Eastern Illinois for a 48-7 victory Saturday at McAndrew Stadium in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Football Championships.

The Salukis (11-1) had one interception and recovered five fumbles - the second most in a game in school history. SIU scored 28 points off of the Panther mishaps and scored 48 unanswered in the game to move on to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in school history.

"Anytime a team forces six turnovers, things are going to go your way," head coach Dale Lennon said. "When the defense can get the ball back to the offense as quick as they did, you are going to be able to put a lot of points on the board."

Coming into the game Eastern Illinois had not allowed a 100-yard rusher. Southern Illinois had two on the day as Deji Karim had 155 and McIntosh added 115. The Salukis as a team had 323 yards rushing in the playoff victory.

Karim got his 155 yards rushing on 23 carries and he scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). McIntosh had second-straight 100-yard game. He becomes just the second Saluki quarterback in SIU history to have two 100-yard rushing games in a career.

McIntosh accounted for three touchdowns in all Saturday. He completed 13-of-17 passes for 66 yards with two TDs and ran for another.

Senior linebacker Brandin Jordan led the Dawgs with seven tackles.

"We were just happy we were getting them," Jordan said in regards to the turnovers SIU's defense was creating. "Anytime you get six, that's pretty good and we keep getting hungry as the game went along to get another."

Senior nose tackle Chris Arthurs recovered two fumbles on the day while safety Lance Caldwell forced one fumble and had SIU's lone interception. Kyle Russo returned a fumble 28-yards for a touchdown in the second quarter after a Kyle Walker sack knocked the ball free.

The Salukis had four sacks in the game and recorded eight tackles for a loss. Southern Illinois only gave up 189 yards of total offense while having 389 of its own.

Along with the story line of the game, fumbles were the tale of the first half.

Karim's first career fumble, on his 310th touch as a Saluki, set up EIU's first score just 3:12 into the game. Wide receiver Lorence Ricks scored an 11-yard touchdown on a Panther reverse.

The next time Eastern had the ball they coughed up to the Salukis on a fumbled exchange between the center and Jake Christensen at quarterback. That gave SIU the ball at the EIU 33 and Karim needed just two carries to reach the end zone. His 10-yard run at 7:33 tied the game up at seven apiece.

McIntosh gave Southern Illinois its first lead early in the second quarter. He broke through a couple of arm tackles on a 16-yard touchdown run that capped off a six-play, 58-yard drive.

Following a Panther fumble and a McIntosh interception on back-to-back drives, Korey Lindsey set the Salukis up with the ball on the EIU 22-yard line with a 15-yard punt return. SIU did not find the end zone, but Kyle Dougherty made a 33-yard field goal to put SIU up 17-7.

With 6:04 left in the half, Walker blitzed through the right side and was able to hit Christensen as he was looking to pass. He knocked the ball up in the air right into the hands of Russo, who returned it 28 yards for the touchdown.

That capped off 24 unanswered points for the Salukis as they held a 24-7 lead at the half.

Caldwell, who forced one of three Panther fumbles in the first half, intercepted Christensen on EIU's first drive of the second half. That set up a six-yard McIntosh to John Goode touchdown pass to put SIU up 31-7.

Eastern's turnover problems continued to plague them as the third quarter wore on. Its fifth turnover and fourth fumble led to SIU's next touchdown that gave them a 38-7 lead. This came on an 11-yard pass from McIntosh to Karim, which was his first touchdown reception of his career.

Dougherty tacked on a 45-yard field goal late in the third quarter. It was his 18th of the season, which tied Ron Miller's school record that he set in 1983.

Karim added a 58-yard rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to cap off the scoring for the Salukis and end a stretch of 48 unanswered points. Eastern Illinois did have a late chance to punch in its second touchdown, but with 3:42 to play the Saluki defense held at their own one-yard line.