CARBONDALE — The SIU football team moved up four spots in the Stats Perform top 25 poll and three in the coaches list Monday to No. 4 after Saturday's come-from-behind win at South Dakota State.
The Salukis (5-1, 3-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) lead the league at 3-0 after storming back from trailing 20-0 at the previously second-ranked Jackrabbits (4-1, 1-1). SIU had 24 yards in the opening quarter at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, South Dakota, and trailed 35-21 with 10:18 to play before rallying to win in overtime. Donnavan Spencer ran for a 63-yard touchdown and Nic Baker, the MVFC offensive player of the week, completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Landon Lenoir to help the Salukis tie the game with 34 seconds left.
Spencer's 10-yard touchdown run in overtime helped SIU go ahead to stay. Nico Gualdoni hit the extra point to make it 42-35, and after SDSU scored in the extra session it went for two. Quarterback Chris Oladokun's pass to tight end Zach Heins in the end zone hit Saluki linebacker Branson Combs in the back, and fell incomplete to end the game. SIU's No. 4 ranking was its highest since coming in fourth in the media poll Sept. 6, 2010, and second in the coaches list.
SIU was one of two MVFC teams in the top 10 of the two major polls and one of seven league teams in the top 25. North Dakota State (5-0, 2-0) was third after beating No. 12/16 Northern Iowa 34-20, behind defending national champion Sam Houston (5-0) and Eastern Washington (6-0). SIU was fourth in the Stats Perform poll, which is done by media, sports information directors and other dignitaries, followed by SDSU at No. 7. UNI (3-2, 1-1) was 16th, Missouri State (3-2, 2-1) was 20th, South Dakota (4-2, 2-1) was 21st, North Dakota (2-3, 0-2) was 22nd and Youngstown State (2-3, 1-2) received votes.
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SIU hosts North Dakota on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Homecoming football game. The Salukis' 2021 Hall of Fame class, which includes former tight ends Damon Jones and MyCole Pruitt, is expected to appear. Pruitt is currently a tight end for the Tennessee Titans.
NDSU was third in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) top 25. SIU was fourth, followed by SDSU at No. 8, UNI at 17, South Dakota at 21, Missouri State at 23 and North Dakota at 24.
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