Austin Sumner threw for a career-high five touchdowns, including three in a 28-point third quarter, to lead South Dakota State to a 41-28 Hobo Day victory over 21st-ranked Youngstown State (Ohio) Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Playing before a crowd of 14,966, the eighth-largest in stadium history, the Jackrabbits assured themselves of a winning record for the first time since 2009 with a 6-2 mark overall and kept pace in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 4-1 record. YSU dropped its fourth consecutive game, falling to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in league play.
SDSU never trailed in the contest, scoring on the opening drive of the game. The Jackrabbits came out throwing from the get-go as Sumner hit Tyrel Kool on a 41-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. SDSU overcame a 15-yard penalty midway through the drive, converting on fourth-and-8 as Sumner connected with Brandon Hubert for 24 yards to set up first and goal. Two plays later, Sumner found Seth Daughters in the right corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown.
Youngstown State knotted the game at 7-all late in the first quarter, putting together a methodical, 14-play, 60-yard scoring drive. The Penguins converted twice on fourth and short before quarterback Kurt Hess scrambled 15 yards for a touchdown.
The second quarter was all Jackrabbits. SDSU opened its outburst with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Sumner to Kool with 11 minutes, 51 seconds to play in the half.
SDSU then took advantage of two Penguin mistakes deep in their own territory to cushion its lead. A bad snap on a punt gave SDSU the ball at the YSU 12. Three plays later, Sumner hit Hubert across the middle for a 13-yard touchdown.
Freshman linebacker T.J. Lally then came up with a takeaway, intercepting a pass and returning it 13 yards to the YSU 15. This time, the Jackrabbits needed only two plays to cash in as Walter Payton Award candidate Zach Zenner scored from eight yards out to make the score 28-7.
YSU put together another sustained drive late in the half, but Skyler Luxa picked off a Hess pass in the end zone.
Rather than run out the clock with the ball deep in their own territory, the Jackrabbits again used the passing game to put points on the board. Aaron Rollin broke free on the left sideline for a 46-yard gain to move the ball into Penguin territory and later caught a 13-yard pass before Sumner found Jason Schneider across the middle for a 17-yard touchdown with three seconds remaining in the half for a 35-7 halftime lead.
The Jackrabbits again went to the aerial attack on their opening play of the second half. Once again, Sumner connected with Rollin on a 49-yard play-action touchdown pass for what would prove to be SDSU's final score of the day.
Rollin finished the game with three receptions for 108 yards, while Hubert recorded seven catches for a career-best 96 yards and Kool ended the day with three catches for 98 yards.
Youngstown State, meanwhile, chipped away at the 41-7 deficit, scoring with five minutes remaining in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Hess to Christian Bryan.
The Penguins got the ball to bounce their way for a defensive touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jamarious Boatwright intercepted a tipped Sumner pass at the Jackrabbit 19 and then pitched the ball to Aronde Stanton, who ran the ball in the rest of the way for a touchdown.
YSU further cut the lead to what would be the final margin with a quick-strike three-play, 63-yard drive that took less than a minute. Hess found Marcel Caver for gains of 36 and six yards before completing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Will Shaw. A tight end, Shaw led the Penguins with a game-high 10 receptions for 120 yards.
Sumner ended the day 19-of-28 yards for a season-high 351 yards. Zenner failed to gain 100 yards for the first time this season, rushing 17 times for 87 yards.
Overall, the Jackrabbits held a 416-348 advantage in total offense despite running 15 fewer plays (76-61).
Hess completed 25-of-42 passes for 27 yards. Jamaine Cook gained 78 yards on 20 carries to pace the Penguin running game.
Donald D'Alesio made nine tackles to lead Youngstown State.
The Jakrabbits continue Missouri Valley Football Conference action Nov. 3 at Southern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series, 9-5, and has won all five meetings since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference ... Saturday's game was the 99th Hobo Day Game; the Jackrabbits are 59-35-5 on Hobo Day ... the Jackrabbits are 2-0 against ranked opponents this season ... SDSU has won four consecutive Hobo Day games and nine of its last 10 ... Sumner topped 300 yards passing for the sixth time in his career ... in two career Hobo Day games, Sumner is a combined 35-of-57 passing for 679 yards and nine touchdowns ... SDSU's 28 third-quarter points were the most a Jackrabbit team in any quarter since putting up 30 in the fourth quarter during a 50-48, come-from-behind victory at Stephen F. Austin (Texas) in 2008 ... SDSU has drawn more than 10,000 fans for nine consecutive home games ... the victory was career No. 99 for Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier (99-74 record in 16 seasons at SDSU) ... SDSU now has a winning record in seven of nine seasons as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision