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Southern Illinois players celebrate an interception by Luke Giegling (34) during the Salukis' Missouri Valley Football Conference game against Illinois State on Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

NORMAL — Without three of its top-four cornerbacks, and two underclassmen safeties, SIU's secondary was a target Saturday at No. 12 Illinois State.

The Redbirds (5-1, 2-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) didn't turn into a passing team - they rushed for 409 yards and three touchdowns - but they were efficient against freshman Chance Bush and junior Madre Harper. Quarterback Brady Davis tied a career high with four touchdown passes, one to four different receivers, to help Illinois State to a dominating 51-3 win over the Salukis (1-5, 0-3).

"Some of the inexperience in the secondary, getting fits down into the run game. We've gotta grow up pretty quickly," SIU coach Nick Hill said. "Going into it, we played our fifth and sixth corner, and then, obviously, our top-two safeties didn't start the game, and then Jeremy (Chinn) came in in the second half. But that's not an excuse. They physically just whupped us."

Davis completed 10 of 15 passes for 118 yards and the four scores. None of his touchdown passes were longer than 16 yards.

Middle linebacker Bryce Notree led SIU's defense with 10 tackles. Harper had eight, and sophomore Joe Patterson, who filled in for Qua Brown, had seven stops. Brown returned from a knee injury and had two tackles.

SIU played without starting corners James Ceasar, who is out for the year, and Torian Lewis, who missed Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. Backup cornerback C.J. Jennings also missed the game due to injury.

Illinois State's 541 yards of total offense were the second-most the Salukis allowed this season. Only Ole Miss (646 yards) had more.

The stache goes away: Illinois State coach Brock Spack came to the postgame press conference missing an important part of him: his mustache.

Redbird quarterback Jake Kolbe, who was a part of SIU's 42-7 win last year in Carbondale, asked Spack if he would lose his mustache should Illinois State win by 35 points or more. Spack agreed, and shaved it off right after the game in the players' locker room.

"Faster it comes off, the faster I can grow it back," he said.

Moment of silence: Illinois State held a moment of silence before the national anthem for former SIU Chancellor Dr. Carlo Montemagno, who died earlier this week at the age of 62.

Montemagno was battling cancer, but an official cause of death was not released. Montemagno just took over as chancellor last year.

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On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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