Southern rewind: Dynamic duo, defense help Salukis roar to 5th straight victory

Javon Williams Jr. (15) celebrates one of his four rushing touchdowns in a 30-7 Missouri Valley Football Conference victory against Western Illinois. (Photo by

By Barry Bottino

Facing a Western Illinois defense that was focused on not giving up big plays, the duo of quarterback Nick Baker and running back Javon Williams went to work, yard by yard.

The duo combined for 335 of SIU’s 408 yards of offense in a 30-7 victory that gave the No. 16 Salukis (5-2 overall, 4-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) five wins in a row and a share of first place in the league with second-ranked South Dakota State.

Baker set a school completion percentage record by connecting on 25 of 27 passes for 227 yards through the air, while Williams scored rushing touchdowns of 6, 3, 1 and 5 yards to power the SIU offense.

This marks the third consecutive fall season in which SIU has posted a five-game winning streak.

“We’re building a lot of momentum,” Baker said. “There’s something brewing here.”

Despite SIU roaring to a 23-0 lead in the second quarter, winless Western made the Salukis work for those points.

The first three Southern scoring drives involved 27 total plays and were all at least 59 yards long.

“I’m proud of the effort and the mentality of our guys to take control of that game from the get-go,” SIU head coach Nick Hill said. “We came into this game preparing like it was Northwestern.”

Williams posted 136 all-purpose yards as a rusher, receiver, passer and kick returner.

SIU’s defense shined as well, piling up three sacks from its defensive line to extend their MVFC lead to 26 sacks this season.

Salukis cornerback David Miller grabbed an interception that the offense turned into a touchdown.

“I feel like we all came together,” Miller said of the defense, which allowed Western 177 total yards and only 11 first downs. “Our D-line has been playing very well.”

Game changers

6:34, 2nd quarter: Southern’s defense forced a WIU punt for the fifth drive in a row to start the game. Western’s first five drives resulted in 16 yards.

4:04 2nd quarter: Thomas Burks kicked a 38-yard field goal to give SIU a 20-0 lead, and points on four of their first five drives of the game.  

9:24, 3rd quarter: On a 5-yard run, Williams collected his fourth touchdown run of the day.

What it means

The Salukis remained undefeated in the MVFC and now share first place with No. 2 South Dakota State, which knocked off No. 1 North Dakota State, 23-21.

Top Dawgs

Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three Salukis players in the game:

Baker: His record-setting day helped Baker boost his completion percentage to 70.39%, which ranks second in the MVFC and among the top 10 nationally.

Ro Elliott, RB: The junior from Indianapolis led the Salukis with 66 rushing yards and five receptions for 64 yards.

Richie Hagarty, DE: Hagarty extended his team lead in sacks to 5.5 this season. He was one of six players to collect half a sack Saturday.

What’s next?

SIU hits the road Oct. 22 for a 2 p.m. MVFC game against South Dakota.

One response to “Southern rewind: Dynamic duo, defense help Salukis roar to 5th straight victory”

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