VERMILLION, S.D. (USD) — South Dakota made a change at quarterback in the middle of the second quarter and it sparked a 27-24, come-from-behind victory against No. 14/17 Southern Illinois Saturday in the annual Dakota Days game inside the DakotaDome.

South Dakota (2-5, 1-3 MVFC) snapped a three-game skid and improved to 6-0 on homecoming under coach Bob Nielson. Southern Illinois (5-3, 4-1) dropped its first game inside the Valley and had a five-game win streak come to a halt. That streak began with a road win at the Big Ten’s Northwestern.

Aidan Bouman, a redshirt freshman quarterback and a transfer from Iowa State, entered the game with 2:43 left in the second quarter trailing 21-7. At that point, the visiting Salukis had run 47 plays for 254 yards and possessed the ball for 21 minutes. South Dakota had run 13 plays for 60 yards spanning six minutes. Then things changed.

Making his collegiate debut, Bouman marched the offense 43 yards on 10 plays and Eddie Ogamba made a 46-yard field goal to make the halftime score 21-10. A 78-yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter made it 21-17. Bouman dropped a dime to Wesley Eliodor in the corner of the end zone on 3rd-and-5 for the score. Bouman was 5-for-5 on the drive for 61 yards.

Southern Illinois answered the back-to-back scores with a 21-yard field goal from Jake Baumgarte. The Salukis had 2nd-and-goal from the 3, but threw incomplete on second and third down.

That was it for the SIU offense. The Salukis totaled 47 yards the rest of the way.

“Coming out of the half, that score really brought a lot of energy to us,” said USD linebacker and team captain Brock Mogensen. “Coming out of the defense meeting at halftime, we just said ‘do your job’ because that first half was a little shaky for us and we came out and battled in that second half.”

South Dakota turned to running backs Shomari Lawrence and Travis Theis and they delivered against the nation’s ninth-ranked run defense. Teams were averaging 80 yards on the ground against the Salukis. Lawrence ran 11 times for a career-high 122 yards. Theis carried 21 times for 108. Both reached the end zone. It was the first time USD boasted two 100-yard rushers since Dakota Days 2019 against Indiana State.

Lawrence scored from 29 yards out on the second play of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24-24. Both teams missed 4th-and-1 opportunities later in the quarter. Cameron Tisdale’s interception of Saluki quarterback Nic Baker with 5:00 to go preceded the final points of the game.

Starting from his own 32, Theis ran for 14 yards and 20 yards to reach the SIU 34. He ran two more times and caught a 3-yard swing pass before Ogamba drilled a 44-yard field goal with 2:31 to go.

Coyote defensive lineman Brendan Webb sacked Baker on 4th-and-10 to stop Southern Illinois’ final drive and Theis converted a 4th-and-1 in the final minute to seal the win.

South Dakota outgained Southern Illinois 285-126 after Bouman took the field. Bouman finished 11-of-17 for 120 yards. Eliodor caught four passes for 58 yards.

“You go into every single game ready to compete and take my opportunity, make the best of it and play my role like I needed to,” said Bouman. “Everybody around me did a great job today and it was a great team win.

“I feel like I’ve made a great connection with everybody on this team. It feels like home here right now. I love it and it was an awesome day.”

Tisdale forced two turnovers and both led to touchdowns. He forced a fumble near midfield and Mogensen scooped it up and rumbled down to the SIU 6 10 minutes into the game. Theis scored from there on a two-play drive that tied the game at 7-7.

Mogensen, Stephen Hillis and Da’Raun McKinney each had nine tackles for South Dakota. Branson Combs had seven tackles to lead the Salukis. Baker was 28-of-43 for 190 yards, two scores and the pick. Ro Elliott ran 16 times for 100 yards for SIU.

“Our guys got behind and didn’t give up and that’s what I’m most proud of,” said Nielson. “The way this year has been going, it would have been pretty easy for our guys to say, ‘hey, this isn’t going to be out day either.’ They showed a lot of character, showed a lot of poise down the stretch and ended up with a really good win.”

South Dakota keeps its playoff hopes alive with the win and avenges last season’s playoff loss at home to Southern Illinois. The Coyotes travel to Youngstown, Ohio, to face the Penguins next Saturday in a 1 p.m. (CT) kick.