VERMILLION — “Really disappointed.”
That’s how Bob Nielson immediately described what happened Saturday evening.
That’s how the South Dakota head coach began his post-game comments after a 48-28 loss to Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley football battle that got out of hand in the second quarter.
“I’ll take the blame,” Nielson said.
“I don’t think our preparation was as good as it should have been, and I don’t think the guys played with the level of execution and intensity they needed.”
The result was a frustrating four quarters for the Coyotes (3-5, 2-2).
They committed five turnovers, gave up 334 yards on the ground and were out-scored 27-0 in the second quarter.
“When you turn the ball over on oense ve times, that’s never a good thing,” said Nielson, who pointed out that the 10 turnovers in the past two games was more than the season total to date.
More than that, four of USD’s ve giveaways led directly to touchdowns for Southern Illinois (4-4, 2-2).
The idea of ‘execution’ was a common term in the post-game media gathering for the Coyotes.
They particularly struggled against Southern Illinois’ direct snap, ‘Wildcat’ offensive formations — Javon Williams Jr. rushed for four touchdowns in that setting.
“Honestly, the big plays they got out of it was misfits; execution things,” said USD junior linebacker Jack Cochrane, who had a team-high 15 tackles.
What were some of those execution issues?
Missed tackles and defenders thinking they were getting a different look, according to Cochrane.
“A variety of things that can’t happen if you want to be a good football team,” he said.
Anything that could have went wrong for USD in the second quarter pretty much occurred.
Southern Illinois out-scored the Coyotes 27-0 in the quarter thanks to three Williams Jr. touchdown runs, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, a field goal and a touchdown pass in the closing seconds.
By the time the dust had settled and fans had already started leaving for the concession stands, the Salukis had a 34-7 lead at the break.
The reaction of his players when things were turning against them was something Nielson said he addressed.
“Our guys got down in a hurry today,” he said. “That was really the only thing I got after them about at halftime.
“We lost a lot of our intensity and that was going to be a game where we’d need 60 minutes of it.”
The Coyotes started the third quarter with a defensive score, on a Mike Johnson 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. SIU answered, though, with a 33-yard touchdown pass.
South Dakota got one back on an Austin Simmons 2-yard touchdown pass to Brett Samson at the 4:43 mark.
There would be no miraculous comeback, though, as the Salukis intercepted another pass and ran out the clock to end the game.
Williams Jr. finished the game with 107 rushing yards, while D.J. Davis led with 125 yards on the ground. Quarterback Kare Lyles passed for 191 yards and two scores, both to Avante Cox who had 113 yards.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, got 226 yards through the air by Simmons, 116 yards on the ground by Kai Henry and 85 yards by receiver Caleb Vander Esch.
Ultimately, though, USD left too many plays and points on the field with those turnovers.
“We have to execute better, plain and simple,” Vander Esch said.
It’s a natural question to ask following a loss, but given how Saturday’s game played out, the question was especially critical: How will the Coyotes respond?
“There are four games left on our schedule, so there’s no room to lay around and sulk,” Cochrane said. “We’re a good defense, we just didn’t show it today. We have to dig deep and show some heart in these last four games.”
South Dakota hits the road next week for a Saturday game at Western Illinois.
Follow @jhoeck on Twitter
SO. ILLINOIS (4-4, 2-2) 7 27 7 7 — 48
SOUTH DAKOTA (3-5, 2-2) 7 0 14 7 — 28
SIU — Javon Williams Jr., 6-yard run (Grin Cerra kick); 12:35
USD — Caleb Vander Esch, 18-yard pass from Austin Simmons (Mason Lorber kick); 3:16
SIU — Williams Jr., 48-yard run (Cerra kick); 14:52
SIU — Williams Jr., 23-yard run (Cerra kick); 12:27
SIU — Williams Jr., 6-yard run (kick no good); 6:31
SIU — Cerra, 33-yard eld goal
SIU — Avante Cox, 11-yard pass from Kare Lyles (Cerra kick); 0:09
10/30/2019 Southern Illinois Rolls Over USD 48-28 | Sports | yankton.net
USD — Mike Johnson, 30-yard fumble recovery (Lorber kick); 11:23
SIU — Cox, 33-yard pass from Lyles (Cerra kick); 7:29
USD — Brett Samson, 2-yard pass from Simmons (Lorber kick); 4:43
SIU — Cox, 5-yard run (Cerra kick); 10:26
USD — Simmons, 6-yard run (Lorber kick); 7:33