The Missouri State Bears fall to 1-8 on the year after losing to Southern Illinois 37-14.
The Bears has now lost 5 straight after winning their first game of the year in overtime at Western Illinois.
Quaterback Peyton Huslig threw for over 190 yards and a couple touchdowns while 6 different Bears rushed for just 66 yards on 30 carries.
The Bears will now travel to Normal, Illinois next weekend and take on Illinois State, who defeated nationally ranked South Dakota State on Saturday.
You can catch that game at Noon on ESPN+.
Read the full release from Missouri State Athletics here:
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Missouri State (1-8, 1-5 MVFC) fell behind 30-0 midway through Saturday’s Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup at Southern Illinois which proved to be the difference in a 37-14 defeat at the hands of the rival Salukis.
After a slow start, Bears’ starting quarterback Peyton Huslig was 11-for-17 in the second half with a pair of touchdown passes to finish the game with 193 passing yards and no picks. He and the Bears benefitted from a defensive resurgence and two key takeaways in the second half to chip away at the deficit over the final two periods.
Tyler Lovelace’s third interception of the campaign set up a 10-yard scoring pass from Huslig to Lorenzo Thomas five plays later to get the Bears on the board less than five minutes into the third quarter.
Later in the period, Darius Joseph’s interception return to the Southern Illinois 29 gave the visitors fresh hope. Eight plays later, the Bears faced a fourth-and-three from the nine but ultimately turned it over on downs when Huslig’s pass for Damoriea Vick sailed just out of his reach.
On their final drive of the night, Huslig helped engineer a 58-yard scoring drive to find pay dirt once again. This time, a seven-yard strike to tight end Jordan Murray put the exclamation point on the 10-play march. It was the seventh career TD reception for the sophomore standout.
With the pair of second-half scoring strikes, Huslig moved into a tie for second place on Missouri State’s career touchdown passing list with 36. He matched Jeremy Hoog (1994-97) and Mitch Ware (1976-79) for the No. 2 spot on the all-time MSU chart, trailing only Cody Kirby (2007-10) who passed 47 TDs in his tenure.
Southern Illinois racked up 395 yards of total offense in the first half – and 555 for the game – to dominate the line of scrimmage early. The Salukis scored on five-of-six first-half possessions and were solid in every phase of their attack.
The home side, which finished with 26 first downs, wasted no time getting the scoring started. The Salukis put the first points on the board less than two minutes into the game after blocking a Bears’ punt and punching it in two plays later. Kare Lyles hit Landon Lenoir from 14 yards out to make it a 6-0 game out of the gates.
Later in the opening quarter, SIU cashed in on a fourth-and-two from the MSU 34 with a 34-yard TD pass to Jacob Garrett to make it a 13-0 game. The score came on the heels of a huge third-down stop by Eric Johnson and Claudio Martin, but the Salukis turned down the short-field punt to go for it, and the gamble paid off.
Lenoir and Lyles connected again early in the second quarter to cap an impressive 87-yard scoring drive with a 15-yard scoring pass to make it a 20-0 game. Later in the second quarter, Lyles threw a 34-yard TD strike to Avante Cox before he marched the home club 73 yards on the final possession of the half to set up a 24-yard field goal by Nico Gualdoni to make it 30-0 at the break.
Missouri State’s best scoring chance in the first half came late in the second quarter with Huslig and Myron Mason helping push the Bears deep into SIU territory. Facing a fourth-and-five from the Saluki seven and down 20-0 at the time, MSU elected to attempt a 24-yard field goal, which sailed just right to keep the Bears off the scoreboard. Missouri State’s 62-yard, 12-play drive was its best of the opening half.
Lyles finished 18-of-24 for 232 yards and four TD strikes, including a 13-yard pass to Cox in the fourth quarter for SIU’s final score. Lenoir caught nine passes, all in the first half, for 124 yards with Cox also scoring twice and finishing with five receptions for 67 yards.
Individually, the Bears were highlighted by Tyler Currie who caught six passes for 56 yards and Lorenzo Thomas who snagged five receptions for 42.
McNeece Egbim, who leads all MVFC players in tackles per game in league games, logged his 15th career double-figure tackle game with 10 stops, including seven in the second half.
Brendan Withrow overcame the early blocked punt to finish with a 47.8 punting average on six kicks for the Bears, including three of 60 yards or better and a long of 69.
Up next, the Bears travel to Illinois State (7-3, 4-2 MFVC) next week for a Noon start in Normal on MSU’s final road game of the campaign.