Southern Illinois routs UND 34-17
The Fighting Hawks struggled to stop the Salukis' playmakers and couldn't protect quarterback Tommy Schuster.
CARBONDALE, Ill. — A week ago, Tommy Schuster was running a crazy two-minute drill — a game-winning sequence later featured on ESPN.
On Saturday, the UND quarterback was running for his life.
Schuster was sacked seven times and No. 24 Southern Illinois racked up 458 yards of total offense in a 34-17 win over No. 19 UND on Saturday at Saluki Stadium.
"We were playing from behind and when you're two, three scores down, the defense can be more aggressive with their calls," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We have to protect better but I think playing from behind played into it."
UND entered the game ranked No. 2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and No. 18 nationally in sacks allowed.
Schuster was sacked three times all season coming into the game and only once by an FCS opponent. Last season, UND gave up eight sacks all season.
"We struggled with handling their front seven or eight," UND tackle Donny Ventrelli said. "They sent a lot of blitzes, and it was tough to handle that."
SIU quarterback Nic Baker, the reigning Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week after beating Northwestern last week, finished 21-for-27 for 289 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Avante Cox had seven catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, while tight end Jacob Garrett caught a pair of touchdown passes.
UND trailed 24-10 at halftime as the Salukis struck at the end of the second quarter. With 7 seconds left in the half, Baker hit Cox for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Cox evaded the tackle of UND safety Kadon Kauppinen around the line of scrimmage and cruised in for the score.
"They have good players but it comes down to us executing out of the gate and we didn't," UND linebacker Ted Mullin said. "We didn't pull our weight at the beginning, and it's a team game."
The Fighting Hawks dropped to 2-2 with a challenging home game next weekend against Missouri State.
"We have to tackle better," Schweigert said. "I don't think we played spirited defense. We have to give them credit. They made us make plays in space, but we have to play better with our eyes. We have to play with greater focus than we did today."
Thanks to the seven sacks, UND finished with just 38 rushing yards. Tyler Hoosman finished with 31 rushing yards and two touchdowns to lead the UND offense.
"I think we have a long season ahead of us, and we're going to learn from the corrections and watch the film," Mullin said. "We're going to move on, but we can't forget how this feels. As a team, we all have to step up. It's going to come down to us executing. We can't be comfortable. We have to keep getting better with everything we do."