CARBONDALE, Ill. (WVUE) - In a game that featured over 1,300 yards of total offense, No. 17/18 Southern Illinois outlasted No. 15/17 Southeastern Louisiana, 55-48, in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Saluki Stadium.
Southeastern (4-3), playing its fourth road game versus a ranked opponent, racked up 541 total yards of offense in the wild back-and-forth contest.
However, the Lions couldn’t overcome an 807-yard performance by the Salukis (5-3). Saturday’s game was scheduled 10 days ago, as both the Lions and SIU wanted to test their mettle against another top-tier FCS program heading into the postseason.
SLU will now await the decision of the NCAA playoff selection committee. The Lions, who defeated No. 17/18 Nicholls, 51-45, on the road last Saturday, finished second place in a competitive Southland Conference that had four teams ranked in the top 25 throughout the season.
The Lions also feature one of the premier quarterbacks in the nation in Cole Kelley, who added to his FCS-leading passing total with 418 yards and two touchdowns on 34-for-42 passing, while also rushing for three scores.
Javon Conner (nine catches, 87 yards), Marcus Cooper (7-72), Austin Mitchell (5-109), Tim Wilson Jr. (5-95-1 TD) were Kelley’s top target.
Taron Jones led the SLU rushing attack with 43 yards and a score.
SIU quarterback Stone Labanowitz was 20-for-24 for 328 yards and a pair of scores, finding Avante Cox (8-127-1 TD) and Landon Lenoir (7-128-1 TD) consistently throughout the game. The Salukis amassed 423 yards rushing, as Justin Strong (16-159-2 TD) and Javon Williams Jr. (24-145-2 TD).
Alexis Ramos led SLU with 16 tackles and a forced fumble. Alphonso Taylor added 10 tackles for the Lions.
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