As the clock ticked down in the final seconds of the FCS Spring football matchup between FCS giant North Dakota State and Southern Illinois, the crowd noise in Saluki Stadium was in a stunned silence. Southern Illinois players, along with Bison players, left the sidelines and shook hands after the Saluki’s gigantic upset of North Dakota State on Saturday afternoon.
The Salukis out-gained the Bison by more than 200 yards, to give them their first victory of the 2021 spring campaign. It also ended the NDSU winning streak, which started in 2017.
Southern Illinois Upsets NDSU Football
Southern Illinois first scored with a 39-yard field goal by Nick Gualdoni at the end of the first quarter. Romeir Elliott and Javon Williams Jr. also added rushing touchdowns in the first half. The Bison didn’t get on the scoreboard until the final play of the first half. Bison quarterback Zeb Noland threw a Hail Mary pass as time expired, which was tipped and eventually caught by Jake Lippe for a 37-yard touchdown. The score at the half was 17-7, with Southern Illinois holding a 10-point lead.
The Salukis came out in the second half and scored 21-straight unanswered points. Landon Lenoir caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Nic Baker, and Javon Williams Jr. and Romeir Elliott scampered for touchdowns of three and 20 yards, respectively, to give the Salukis their 38 total points. Noland rushed for a five-yard touchdown run just before the two minute warning to bring the final score to 38-14 in favor of the Salukis.
The Salukis doubled the Bison’s total first downs, with 25, and held them to 159 yards passing and only 109 yards rushing. Noland threw one interception, and the Bison lost one fumble to contribute to the Salukis victory.
NDSU vs Southern Illinois Football Takeaways
Clearly, this version of the North Dakota State football team is not as explosive as they were with quarterback Trey Lance, who decided to forgo the spring season to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. The Bison were held to only 268 total yards of offense on Saturday. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for NDSU. They now head to Springfield, Missouri next week to take on Missouri State, who topped Western Illinois today, 30-24.
For the Salukis, this win was huge for the program. The Salukis were dominated last week by North Dakota, as they lost the game 44-21. Nic Baker, the sophomore quarterback who was filling in for normal starter Kare Lyles, was very efficient, completing 17-of-24 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown. Avante Cox, the junior wide receiver, had another 100-yard receiving game after totaling 138 yards in the opener vs North Dakota.
Sophomore running backs Romeir Elliott and Javon Williams Jr. totaled 129 yards rushing and accounted for four total touchdowns in the victory. The Salukis will head to Stambaugh Stadium in Youngstown, Ohio next weekend to take on Youngstown State, the only team in the Missouri Valley Conference with two losses in the league already. The Penguins were beaten by Northern Iowa today at Stambaugh Stadium, 21-0.