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Youngstown, Ohio -- Youngstown State committed five turnovers and let an 11-point lead slip away and dropped its third straight game after falling to Southern Illinois, 38-21, on Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
The Guins fall to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while the Salukis improve to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the MVFC.
Senior Jamaine Cook ran for 97 yards on 23 carries and scored three rushing touchdowns in the first from one, four and one yards out.
Junior Kurt Hess completed 24-of-37 passes for 231 yards but was intercepted twice – the last a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining. Hess also fumbled twice in the game - one was recovered in the endzone for a Saluki touchdown.
The Guins' defense played valiantly allowing just 17 points and just 71 yards on the ground and a total of 256 yards. Sophomore Travis Williams led the squad with 13 tackles, and senior Aronde Stanton had 10 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack.
SIU scored 28 straight points after trailing 21-10 and scored on a blocked punt for a touchdown, recovered a fumble in the endzone and returned a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to aid in the victory.
The Salukis, who twice trailed by as many as 11 points, took their first lead of the game on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Faulkner to MyCole Pruitt to go ahead 24-21 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
The Salukis extended their lead to 10 points, 31-21, when Hess fumbled a snap and Tyler Williamson recovered the ball in the endzone with 9:14 left in the game.
In the game's final minute, Hess was intercepted in the endzone by Anthony Thomas who returned the pick for a 100-yard touchdown return to put the Salukis ahead 38-21 with nine seconds remaining.
The Guins took the opening drive 55 yards in 10 plays, capped by one-yard scoring plunge by Cook to take a 7-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
The Salukis answered with 26-yard field goal to get within four, 7-3, at the 3:59 mark. SIU was aided by a YSU roughing the kicker penalty that moved the ball to the YSU 39.
After an exchange of punts, Hess engineered a 10-play, 65-yard drive to put the Guins ahead 14-3 with 11:43 left in the second quarter.
For the third straight game, the Salukis blocked a punt for a touchdown and cut the Penguins lead down to four, 14-10. Mulku Kalokoh blocked Nick Liste's punt, and Courtney Richmond recovered the ball in the endzone with 5:36 left.
The Guins answered with a 76-yard drive to take a 21-10 advantage on Cook's third rushing touchdown of the game – a one-yard dive. Hess was 4-for-4 for 48 yards on the drive.
The Salukis got back within four, 21-17 with just 42 seconds left in the half when Kory Faulkner hit LaSteven McKinney 10-yard diving touchdown reception.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Salukis forced an Andre Stubbs fumble at the YSU 21 yardline. The YSU defense broke up three Faulkner passes and stuffed a fake field-goal to hold onto the 21-17 lead at the half.
The Guins visit South Dakota State, Saturday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m. in Brookings, S.D.