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SIU wins third straight, 38-21 over No. 15 Youngstown St.

For the second week in a row, Southern Illinois overcame a double-digit deficit as the Salukis (5-3, 4-1) defeated No. 15/16 Youngstown State 38-21 on Saturday afternoon at rain-soaked Stambaugh Stadium.

YSU (4-3, 1-3) led by 11 points late in the second quarter before Southern forced five turnovers and finished the game with 28 unanswered points to extend its winning streak to three games.

"Youngstown is a good team," SIU Coach Dale Lennon said. "We were backed up and in trouble. The guys hung in there, and we found ways to claw our way back into the game. Then to have the finish that we did, that says a lot about this football team."

SIU took its first lead of the game, 24-21, with 1:22 left in the third quarter. On third-and-1, Kory Faulkner faked a handoff and completed a pass to a wide-open MyCole Pruitt, who scampered down the right sideline for a 34-yard touchdown. Pruitt lead the team with six receptions for 93 yards.Then with 9:14 left in the game, Tyler Williamson recovered a fumble in the end zone after YSU quarterback Kurt Hess couldn't handle a shotgun snap at his own 15-yard line. That extended the lead to 31-21.

The Penguins threatened late but twice turned the ball over deep in SIU territory in the final five minutes of the game. First, Luke Thuston recovered a Youngstown State fumble at the SIU 27 yard line. Then with under a minute to play, Anthony Thompson intercepted Hess in the end zone and ran it back 100 yards for the score to seal the victory. It was the second week in a row that SIU forced a turnover and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.Thompson nearly scored earlier in the game when he scooped up a blocked punt.

"I was going to go down because I heard everyone yelling," Thompson said with a laugh. "But since I didn't get a touchdown on the punt block, I just wanted a touchdown, so I just kept going."

Youngstown State's Jamaine Cook ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns in the first half but managed just nine yards on seven carries in the second half. His third score gave YSU a 21-10 lead with 2:44 left in the first half.

"We didn't have a very good first half," Lennon said. "That was our biggest concern—defensively, could we figure out the combinations to slow them down."

However, just before the break, SIU responded with a 75-yard drive that ended with under a minute left in the half. LaSteven McKinney capped the drive with a diving touchdown reception in the end zone to cut the deficit to 21-17 heading to the locker room.For the third week in a row, the Dawgs blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. This week it was Mulku Kalokoh with the block. Thompson picked up the ball at the three-yard line but fumbled it near the goal line. Courtney Richmond came up with it in the end zone for the score, cutting the deficit to 14-10.

The victory coupled with South Dakota State's loss moved Southern into a first place tie with SDSU in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Lennon said SIU is playing with a lot more confidence, having won five of its last six games.

"We had to get back to realizing we're the Salukis," Lennon said. "We know how to play football, and that's something we want to continue to build upon. I hope we do have a swagger now. When we take the field, we want to have a pretty good feeling that we're going to be successful."

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