VERMILLION, S.D. (GoYotes.com) —Southern Illinois running back Javon Williams Jr. ran for 107 yards and four touchdowns while the Saluki defense forced five turnovers in rolling past South Dakota 48-28 Saturday inside the DakotaDome.
It was the first win for the Salukis in Vermillion in three tries as they improved to 4-4 overall and 2-2 inside the Missouri Valley Football Conference. South Dakota fell to 1-3 at home, 3-5 overall and 1-3 inside the Valley.
Williams Jr., a wildcat back for SIU, scored all four touchdowns in the first half and was part of a ground game that compiled 334 yards against the Coyotes. D.J. Davis carried much of the load in the second half and turned in a game-high 125 yards on 17 carries. Southern Illinois totaled 525 yards of offense in all.
South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons completed 22 of 34 passes for 226 yards and accounted for all three of the Coyotes’ offensive touchdowns. But he was intercepted three times – twice by all-Valley safety Jeremy Chinn – and lost two fumbles. SIU, which ranked seventh nationally in sacks entering the weekend, had three Saturday and two led to turnovers.
Caleb Vander Esch led USD in receiving for the sixth game in a row. He had a career-high nine catches for 85 yards and a score. Kai Henry turned in his fourth career 100-yard rushing performance. He ran 18 times for a season-high 116 yards.
South Dakota returns to action next Saturday in a 1 p.m. kickoff at Western Illinois in Macomb. The Leathernecks dropped a 59-14 decision at Youngstown State Saturday to fall to 0-8 overall. Game will be broadcast on The Talk of Watertown, 1480 KSDR.