Jacks continue playoff run in Fargo
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Fargodome. The game is scheduled to be televised on ESPN3.com and the ESPN GamePlan subscription package.
The Jackrabbits enter the rematch with a 9-3 overall record following a 58-10 drubbing of Eastern Illinois in first-round action on Nov. 24. SDSU will be in search of its first-ever 10-win season.
NDSU, meanwhile, received a first-round bye and comes into Saturday's contest with a 10-1 overall mark. The defending national champion Bison are making their third consecutive appearance in the FCS playoffs.
The two squads met three weeks ago, with the Bison recording a hard-fought 20-17 victory Nov. 10 at the Fargodome.
THE SERIES: Saturday's matchup marks the 100th time South Dakota State and North Dakota State have met on the gridiron, dating back to an 85-0 Bison win in Fargo in 1903. NDSU leads the overall series by a 54-40-5 count.
The two schools were both charter members of the North Central Conference, meeting every year from 1919 through 1942 until play was interrupted by World War II. The series resumed in 1946 and the two squads have met every year since as the schools made the move to Division I competition together in 2004.
Although it won't be at stake in Saturday's postseason game, SDSU and NDSU play annually for the Dakota Marker, which was introduced to coincide with the move to the Football Championship Subdivision ranks in 2004. SDSU won the inaugural matchup, 24-21, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. On the strength of its current three-game winning streak against the Jackrabbits, NDSU leads the Dakota Marker series, 5-4. SDSU put together its own three-game winning streak in the series from 2007-09, including a 25-24 victory at the Fargodome in the 2008 season finale.
ONLINE COVERAGE: Audio coverage of Saturday's game is scheduled to be available via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio of all games and video streaming of select games are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for a year of service.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at 2 p.m. Central Time on the Jackrabbit Sports Network. Tyler Merriam will call the play-by-play, with former Jackrabbit player Mike Struck providing color commentary and Scotty Kwas providing sideline updates. Yankton-based WNAX 570 AM will again serve as the flagship station of the Jackrabbit Sports Network, which includes the following affiliates:
• KJJQ 910 AM-Brookings
• KBFS 1450 AM-Belle Fourche
• KMSD 1510 AM-Milbank |
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
Video streaming of Saturday's game will be exclusively on ESPN3.com, with coverage starting at 3 p.m.
RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State has had a presence in the national rankings since the start of conference play. The Jackrabbits were ranked 19th in the final regular season Sports Network media poll and 21st in the final FCS Coaches' regular season rankings on Nov. 19.
The Jackrabbits have been ranked for eight weeks this season in the Sports Network poll. SDSU was in the rankings for four weeks in late September through mid-October. The Jackrabbits regained their spot in the Sports Network Top 25 following their victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 27, a win which also propelled them in the coaches' poll for the first time this season. The Jackrabbits' highest rankings this season came on Nov. 5, when they were 16th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches' rankings.
SDSU also holds its highest ranking in the Gridiron Power Index by tying for seventh place with fellow playoff qualifier Georgia Southern heading into the postseason. The Missouri Valley Football Conference remains the highest-ranked league in the GPI, with North Dakota State holding the top spot among individual teams.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: South Dakota State will be facing a ranked opponent for the fifth time this season, when it travels to North Dakota State on Saturday.
The Jackrabbits are 3-1 against ranked foes this season, recording a 24-10 win at then-No. 22/25 Indiana State on Sept. 22 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener, then posting a 41-28 home victory over then-No. 21/22 Youngstown State on Oct. 27. The Jackrabbits improved to 3-1 with its opening-round playoff win over Eastern Illinois, which was ranked 25th in the Sports Network poll.
SDSU's loss came at No. 1 North Dakota State, 20-17, on Nov. 10.
Playing a ranked opponent is nothing new for the Jackrabbit football team, which has taken on some of the nation's elite Football Championship Subdivision programs since moving up from Division I at the start of the 2004 season.In its nine seasons at the FCS level, SDSU has played 41 games against ranked FCS opponents, going 14-27.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are five captains:
• Seth Daughters, Sr., tight end, Winner, S.D.;
• Bo Helm, Sr., defensive back, Childress, Texas;
• Ross Shafrath, Sr., linebacker, Hampton, Iowa;
• Austin Sumner, So., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Jr., defensive back, Lee's Summit, Mo.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition this season by naming two non-senior players - Sumner and Wright - as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: The third time was the charm for the South Dakota State football program, which recorded its first-ever playoff win last week in its third appearance in the NCAA football playoffs.
SDSU reached the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time in 2009 after finishing the regular season with an 8-3 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. An at-large selection, the Jackrabbits fell at top-seeded Montana, 61-48.
South Dakota State's only other postseason game came in the opening round of the 1979 NCAA Division II Playoffs, when the Jackrabbits came out of the short end of a 50-7 decision at Youngstown State (Ohio).
Current Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier was a student assistant coach on the 1979 squad that finished the regular season with a 9-2 record.
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA STATE: North Dakota State is seeking to repeat as Football Championship Subdivision national champions as it prepares for its first playoff game of the season.
The top-ranked Bison feature a balanced offense and a defense ranked at the top of four different categories nationally. NDSU leads both in total defense (195.73 yards per game) and scoring defense (11.82 points per game). The Bison also rank as the top passing defense (128.64 yards per game) and rushing defense (67.09 ypg).
Grant Olson leads North Dakota State with 99 total tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles for loss. Kyle Emanuel ranks secon in tackles for loss with 10.5, with Cole Jirik adding nine tackles for loss and a team-best 5.5 sacks. Thirteen different Bison players have recorded at least a half-sack this season.
The Bison also have forced 21 takeaways this season. Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Wiliams has a team-high four interceptions from his cornerback position, while Carlton Littlejohn, Mike Hardie and Christian Dudzik have each recovered three fumbles. Dudzik also has a pair of interceptions to his credit.
On offense, the Bison are powered by the running back tandem of John Crockett and Sam Ojuri. Crockett leads the team with 769 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, while Ojuri has gained 747 yards with eight scores. As a squad, NDSU is averaging a league-best 197 yards on the ground per game.
The passing game is directed by junior quarterback Brock Jensen, who has completed 61.9 percent (161-of-260) of his passes for 1,935 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been intercepted only seven times this season.
Ryan Smith leads the receiving corp with 36 catches for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Smith also is averaging 10.9 yards per punt return with a touchdown.
Two other Bison receivers have topped the 30-reception mark this season - Zach Vraa has 32 catches for 479 yards and three touchdowns, while Sioux Falls native Trevor Gebhart has tallied 32 receptions for 343 yards.
NDSU also has been solid in the kicking game this season as placekicker Adam Keller has made 16-of-20 field goal attempts and Ben LeCompte is averaging 41.2 yards per punt attempt. LeCompte also has recorded eight touchbacks on kickoffs.
ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: Ten South Dakota State players, led by first-team selections Zach Zenner, Bryan Witzmann and Ross Shafrath, were honored on the 2012 all-Missouri Valley Football Conference Team on Monday.
Zenner, a sophomore running back from Eagan, Minn., posted a league-best 1,703 rushing yards during the 11-game regular season. The runner-up for MVFC Offensive Player of the Year, Zenner rushed for at least 100 yards in eight games and topped the 200-yard mark twice. Zenner, who scored 10 rushing touchdowns, also caught 26 passes for 176 yards.
A junior from Houlton, Wis., Witzmann anchored a Jackrabbit offensive line from his left tackle position. As a team, SDSU averaged 362 yards of total offense during the regular season. A three-year starter, Witzmann was an honorable mention selection in 2011.
Shafrath, a senior linebacker from Hampton, Iowa, ranked second in the league during the regular season with 125 total tackles, 79 of which were solo stops. He notched double figures in tackles eight times, while also recording two interceptions, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Three other Jackrabbit defenders received second-team recognition, including redshirt freshman T.J. Lally, who was also considered for the league's freshman and newcomer of the year awards. A Chicago native, Lally shared the team lead with six sacks and two forced fumbles, while ranking second in total tackles with 89 (63 solo) and tackles for loss with eight. He also intercepted two passes.
Junior defensive end Doug Peete earned a spot on the second team after recording a team-high 12 tackles for loss along with six sacks to share team-best honors. The Olathe, Kan., native finished the regular season with 43 total tackles (34 solo) with five pass breakups and a forced fumble.
In the secondary, senior strong safety Skyler Luxa was named to the second team after tallying a team-high three interceptions. The Blair, Neb., native also recorded five pass breakups and ranked third on the team with 54 tackles (35 solo).
Rounding out SDSU's second-team selections was senior center Will Castle. A Brandon native, Castle helped the Jackrabbits average 5.4 yards per offensive play during the regular season.
Three other Jackrabbits were honorable mention selections: tight end Seth Daughters, defensive lineman Andy Mink and kicker Justin Syrovatka.
Daughters, a senior from Winner, shared the team lead with three touchdown receptions. Overall, he caught 14 passes for 114 yards during the regular season.
Mink, a senior from Ashland, Neb., turned in totals of 48 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks from his defensive tackle position.
A sophomore from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka ended the regular season as the team leader in points scored with 67. He made 25-of-26 extra-point tries and converted his final eight field goal attempts of the regular season to finish 14-of-18 overall.
NEWCOMERS HONORED: South Dakota State defensive players T.J. Lally and Marshall Peugh earned spots on the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team, which was announced Tuesday.
A redshirt freshman linebacker from Chicago, Lally started all 11 games during the regular season at middle linebacker for a Jackrabbit team that finished second in the league standings and earned a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. A four-time newcomer of the week award winner, Lally shared the team lead with six sacks and two forced fumbles, while ranking second in total tackles with 89 (63 solo) and tackles for loss with eight. He also intercepted two passes.
Peugh made an immediate impact at defensive end after transferring from Glendale College (Ariz.). The Avondale, Ariz., native completed the regular season third on the team with 5.5 sacks and tallied 44 total tackles.
Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen was named both MVFC Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year to headline the 22-player squad.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner finished seventh in the balloting for the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. He appeared on 52 ballots and received four first-place votes.
A sophomore from Eagan, Minn., Zenner has regained the lead in rushing average for the Football Championship Subdivision at 166.5d yards per game after setting a school record with 295 yards in the Nov. 24 playoff game against Eastern Illinois. His 1,998 net yards also lead FCS players - the next closest is Miguel Maysonet of Stony Brook (N.Y.) with 1,881 yards. Zenner is only the third back in Missouri Valley Football Conference history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in five games.
The Payton Award will be voted on this week by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. The top three vote-getters will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
Zenner set career highs with 23 carries and 183 rushing yards in the Jackrabbits' 2012 season-opening loss at Kansas on Sept. 1. He opened the scoring with a 99-yard touchdown run - the longest offensive play from scrimmage in program history, surpassing Mike Lunde's 95-yard run against North Dakota in 1976. Zenner also caught four passes for 27 yards, giving him 210 all-purpose yards in the contest.
He followed that performance by again establishing career highs with 34 carries for 278 yards at Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8. Zenner scored on a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at Southeastern Louisiana, then added a pair of touchdowns - including the game-winning 23-yard score - en route to 197 yards Sept. 15 versus UC Davis as he crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career.
Zenner tallied runs of 57 and 87 yards Sept. 22 at Indiana State en route to 237 yards on 29 carries, then turned in a 30-carry, 182-yard performance Sept. 29 against Missouri State that included an 88-yard touchdown run.
On Oct. 13 versus Western Illinois, Zenner scored on runs of 46 and 60 yards en route to 171 yards. After topping the 100-yard mark in each of the first seven games, Zenner was held below the century mark for three consecutive games before tallying 164 yards on 28 carries in the Nov. 17 win over South Dakota.
Three of Zenner's single-game performances rank in the top 15 among FCS players in 2012, with his 295-yard performance against Eastern Illinois ranking third and his 278-yard outing at Southeastern Louisiana ranking sixth. His 237-yard performance at Indiana State ranks 15th. For the season, Zenner is averaging 7.0 yards per carry.
Zenner is zeroing in on the Jackrabbit single-season rushing record, needing only 57 yards to tie the mark currently held by Josh Ranek, who gained 2,055 yards in 11 games during the 1999 season. Zenner has also moved into eighth in career rushing with 2,468 yards, passing Rick Wegher (2,293 yards from 1981-84) last week.
As a kick returner and running back during his redshirt freshman season, Zenner ranked third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2011 with an average of 123.1 all-purpose yards per game, earning him a spot on the league's all-newcomer team.
LALLY RECEIVES RICE ATTENTION: For the second year in a row, the South Dakota State University football team has a player under consideration for the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Last week, linebacker T.J. Lally was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award.
A redshirt freshman from Chicago, Lally shares the team lead with six sacks, ranks second on the nationally ranked Jackrabbits for tackles with 96, is tied for second with two interceptions and two forced fumbles and ranks third with eight tackles for loss. He was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Week four times and also was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week following the Jackrabbits' conference-opening win at Indiana State on Sept. 22.
A member of the MVFC All-Newcomer Team, Lally is one of three league players to be named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award. Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen and Western Illinois linebacker J.J. Raffelson also are being considered for the award, which is named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State.
The award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries this week. The award is to be presented Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
During the 2011 season, Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner placed third in the balloting for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award.
SUMNER AT THE HELM: South Dakota State University quarterback Austin Sumner is building off an impressive freshman season a year ago.
Although not expected to play in the Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas due to an injury suffered in practice the previous week, Sumner entered the game in the third quarter and led the Jackrabbits on two scoring drives, including throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Tyrel Kool early in the fourth quarter. Sumner finished the game 14-of-31 passing for 175 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted four times. He followed with a two-touchdown performance at Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8.
Sumner put together his best performance of the 2012 season Oct. 27 against Youngstown State, throwing for a career-best five touchdowns and season-best 351 yards. His touchdown passes went to five different receivers and covered 6, 50, 13, 17 and 49 yards.
On Nov. 3 at Southern Illinois, Sumner directed a game-winning 18-play, 94-yard drive in the final three minutes with the team out of timeouts. He completed 11-of-16 passes on the drive for 110 yards, capping the march with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Tiefenthaler with seven seconds remaining. He finished with season highs of 26 completions and 45 attempts in throwing for 284 yards. Sumner also recorded a career-long run of 24 yards in the contest.
Over the last five games, Sumner has thrown 10 touchdown passes and only one interception. He has completed 68.1 percent (109-of-160) of his passes for 1,216 yards as the Jackrabbits have gone 4-1.
A native of Brandon, S.D., Sumner started the final eight games of the 2011 season, leading the Jackrabbits to a 4-4 record and setting the Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing. Sumner, who finished third in the voting for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, also tied a Jackrabbit single-game record with 37 completions versus nationally ranked Northern Iowa on Oct. 15, 2011.
He currently stands ninth in career passing yards at SDSU with 4,629.
Sumner topped the 300-yard mark five times in 2011, including throwing for a career-best 377 yards in a double-overtime win over Missouri State. In only 20 career games - 17 starts - Sumner has tallied 4,211 career passing yards to move into 10th place on the Jackrabbit career charts.
TRIPLE THREAT: South Dakota State's Tyrel Kool has shifted all around the field during his Jackrabbit career and is again seeing action mostly at wide receiver in 2012.
A senior from Yankton, Kool began his collegiate career as a running back and kick returner, but switched to wide receiver during the 2010 season, when he led the team with 64 receptions for 808 yards. His receptions total is fifth-most in a season by a Jackrabbit player, while his receiving yards mark stood 10th in a single season as he earned honorable mention all-Missouri Valley Football Conference recognition.
In 2011, Kool moved back to running back and led the team with 534 yards rushing. He made the most of his first career start at running back, racking up 107 yards on the ground and another 79 through the air in the Jackrabbits' 2011 season opener against Southern Utah.
Kool started at wide receiver in the Sept 1 season opener at Kansas and recorded a team-high eight receptions for 76 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. He added catches of 41 and 50 yards en route to a three-reception, 98-yard outing against Youngstown State on Oct. 27. His 50-yard reception went for his second touchdown of the season.
Kool turned in a seven-reception, 112-yard performance Nov. 17 against South Dakota, then upped his team-leading receptions total this season to 42 with three in the Nov. 24 playoff game against Eastern Illinois.
He and teammate Aaron Rollin are in a battle for moving up the SDSU career receptions chart. Kool enters action Saturday in seventh place with 133 receptions.
In the Oct. 13 game against Western Illinois, Kool returned the opening kickoff 100 yards untouched for a touchdown. It tied the longest kick return in school history and was the first kick return for touchdown by a Jackrabbit player since October 2007.
Additionally, Kool saw time at defensive back late in the 2009. He recorded 10 total tackles, including three in the Jackrabbits' playoff game at Montana.
ROLLIN RETURNS: Senior wide receiver Aaron Rollin rejoined the SDSU lineup Sept. 22 at Indiana State after being injured in the Sept. 8 game at Southeastern Louisiana.
A native of Lee's Summit, Mo., Rollin entered the Jackrabbit career top 10 in a pair of receiving categories during the Nov. 3 game at Southern Illinois. He stands sixth in career receptions (135) and has moved into seventh for career receivng yards (1,829).
Rollin became the first Jackrabbit receiver to top the 100-yard mark in a game this season, tallying three catches for 108 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown, Oct. 27 versus Youngstown State.
Rollin put together a breakthrough 2011 campaign, leading the team with seven touchdowns while sharing the team lead with 61 receptions. He teamed with Dale Moss to give SDSU one of the top receiving tandems in the nation as both receivers topped the 900-yard mark.
Rollin was held without a catch in the 2012 season opener at Kansas, ending his streak of consecutive games with a reception at 21, dating back to the 2009 season.
SHAFRATH STICKING OPPONENTS: Senior linebacker Ross Shafrath led the team in tackles each of the first six games of the season and has a team-best total of 132. He recorded his eighth double-figure tackle total of the season with 15 Nov. 10 at North Dakota State.
Shafrath's 132 tackles are the most in a season by a Jackrabbit player since Greg Osmundson recorded 132 tackles in 1987. The most single-season tackles on record by a Jackrabbit player is 143 by Darrin Thurston in 1986.
A native of Hampton, Iowa, Shafrath ranks fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 6.5 solo tackles per game and also ranks 11th in the FCS for total tackles with an average of 11.0 per contest. Shafrath established a new career high with 17 tackles to again lead the Jackrabbits in their 41-28 victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 27.
Shafrath opened 2012 with a then-career-high 16 tackles Sept. 1 at Kansas. His total was the most by a Jackrabbit player since linebacker Mike Lien notched 18 tackles in a 2010 game at North Dakota State. He then notched eight stops in the Sept. 8 win over Southeastern Louisiana and shared team-high honors with 10 stops versus UC Davis on Sept. 15. He again led the squad with 11 tackles in the Jackrabbits' league-opening win at Indiana State on Sept. 22, followed by a 12-tackle, two-interception performance Sept. 29 versus Missouri State en route to being named Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Shafrath has tallied double digits in tackles in 10 of the last 15 games dating back to last season, including 12 in the Oct. 13 game against Western Illinois.
A senior from Hampton, Iowa, Shafrath ranked fourth on the team in 2011 with 66 tackles despite being a part-time starter. His previous career high was 13 tackles at Missouri State on Oct. 29, 2011.
SYROVATKA STEADY: Sophomore placekicker Justin Syrovatka has been a consistent performer on special teams for the Jackrabbits during the 2012 season.
A Sioux Falls native, Syrovatka has made his last 11 field goal attempts en route to a team-best 83 points. Four of Syrovatka's field goals during his streak have been from at least 40 yards, including a career-best 48-yarder just before halftime in the Nov. 17 game against South Dakota.
A honorable mention all-Missouri Valley Football Conference performer, Syrovatka's 17 field goals rank second on the Jackrabbit single-season charts and two away from tying All-American Parker Douglass' single-season record of 19 in 2005.
For the season, Syrovatka is 4-for-5 from 40-plus yards and has made 32-of-33 extra-point attempts.
STOUT DEFENSE: The Jackrabbit defense has been a resurgent unit in 2012,
currently ranking in the top 20 of four different categories among Football Championship Subdivision programs:
• Pass Efficiency Defense, fourth, 99.02;
• Scoring Defense, fourth, 15.42 points per game;
• Total Defense, eighth, 303.42 yards per game;
• Rushing Defense, 13th, 116.17 yards per game.
During its five-game winning streak earlier this season, the Jackrabbit defense did not allow more than one offensive touchdown in any game. SDSU has held the opposition without an offensive touchdown three times this season, including the Nov. 17 victory over South Dakota.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: The Jackrabbit kickoff return unit has helped the team win the field position battle throughout the 2012 season. Entering play this week, SDSU ranks 19th among FCS programs with an average kickoff return of 22.91 yards.
Six different players have returned kicks this season, including Tyrel Kool, who ran back the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown Oct. 13 against Western Illinois.
Trevor Tiefenthaler has added an average of 23.1 yards on 16 returns, including a long of 46 yards. However, Tiefenthaler suffered a season-ending injury in the Nov. 24 playoff game versus Eastern Illinois.
BIG PLAYS: South Dakota State has patched together a number of big plays during the 2012 season. In all, the Jackrabbits have totaled 19 plays from scrimmage and a pair of kickoffs of more than 40 yards, including four pass plays in the Oct. 27 Hobo Day game versus Youngstown State.
In addition, seven of Zach Zenner's touchdowns have covered at least 42 yards, with his 13 touchdowns covering a total of 557 yards, an average of 42.8 yards.
• Zach Zenner 99-yard run (for TD), at Kansas, 9-1-12
• Zenner 42-yard run, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Zenner 61-yard run (for TD), vs. UC Davis, 9-15-12
• Zenner 57-yard run (for TD), at Indiana State, 9-22-12
• Zenner 87-yard run, at Indiana State, 9-22-12
• Zenner 88-yard run (for TD), vs. Missouri State, 9-29-12
• Zenner 46-yard run (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
• Zenner 60-yard run (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
• Zenner 68-yard run (for TD), vs. Eastern Illinois, 11-24-12
• Zenner 41-yard run, vs. Eastern Illinois, 11-24-12
• Brandon Hubert 42-yard reception from Austin Sumner, at Kansas, 9-1-12
• Jason Schneider 46-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Tyrel Kool 41-yard reception from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Kool 50-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Aaron Rollin 46-yard reception from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Rollin 49-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Kool 41-yard reception from Sumner, at Southern Illinois, 11-3-12
Kickoff Returns (2)
• Trevor Tiefenthaler, 46-yard return, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Tyrel Kool, 100-yard return (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
Conversely, the Jackrabbit defense has given up only five plays of 40 or more yards this season - two of which came in the Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas. The first was a 43-yard pass from Dayne Crist to Kale Pick on the opening play of the game, followed by a 47-yard run by Tony Pierson.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright during the 2011 season.
Natives of Lee's Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A junior, Winston Wright started all 11 games at cornerback last season en route to earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. During the 2012 season, Winston Wright has tallied 55 tackles and leads the team with four fumble recoveries. He also intercepted a pass in the Nov. 24 playoff victory over Eastern Illinois. He began his colllegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a sophomore wide receiver who saw most of his action as a kick and punt returner. In nine games last season, he averaged 15.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns to rank second on the squad. This season, he has returned six punts for 50 yards (8.3 yards per return), including a career-long 39-yard return Sept. 8 at Southeastern Louisiana.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to a 102-75 record (.576 winning percentage). SDSU has posted nine winning seasons in the last 11 years, including seven of the school's nine campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 12 of Stiegelmeier's 16 years as head coach, made two playoff appearances and have a 27-13 record (.675 winning percentage) in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Stiegelmeier, 55, is the 20th head coach for the Jackrabbits. His tenure of 16 years as head coach is the second-longest head coaching stint in school history.
The Selby, S.D., native first became acquainted with the Jackrabbit football program as a student assistant under John Gregory during SDSU's only other NCAA playoff season in 1979. With a victory at McNeese State (La.) on Sept. 30, 2006, Stiegelmeier passed Gregory (55-50-3 from 1972-81) for sole possession of second place on the SDSU career wins list.
After graduating from SDSU with degrees in mathematics and physical education, Stiegelmeier enrolled in graduate school at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served on the coaching staff of a Panther squad which posted a 7-4 mark in 1981.
Stiegelmeier coached at Eau Claire (Wis.) North High School from 1981-84, then
returned to his home state as defensive coordinator, secondary coach and recruiting
coordinator at Northern State University from 1984-87. Northern was 8-3 in his last
season with the Wolves and finished fourth in the nation in total defense
After NSU, Stiegelmeier went back to school, enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a graduate assistant on the staff headed by Don Morton while working on his doctorate.
Stiegelmeier returned to his alma mater in July 1988, joining Wayne Haensel's
Jackrabbit coaching staff as secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. After Haensel stepped down following the 1990 season, Stiegelmeier was elevated to defensive
coordinator by new head coach Mike Daly.
In six seasons as defensive coordinator, Stiegelmeier helped guide the Jackrabbits to a 41-23 record, turning in a winning record in all six seasons, including five seven-win seasons. That track record of success helped Stiegelmeier secure his first head coaching position in December 1996, when he was named Daly's successor.
BUBAK A FINALIST: South Dakota State co-defensive coordinator Jay Bubak was recently named a finalist for the Football Championships Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year Award presented by the American Football Coaches Association.
Bubak, who also coaches the team's linebackers, has helped direct a significant turnaround in the Jackrabbits' defensive performance during the 2012 season. SDSU is allowing nearly 18 fewer points per game than a year ago (15.4 to 33.1 in 2011) and more than 100 fewer yards per contest than in 2011 (303.4 to 405.7 in 2011).
LAST-MINUTE WINS: South Dakota State's come-from-behind, 16-12 victory at Southern Illinois on Nov. 3 was the latest in a number of Jackrabbit victories attained in the final minute of regulation during John Stiegelmeier's tenure as head coach.
Following is a full listing of last-minute wins since 1997:
• Oct. 11, 1997: SDSU 20, St. Cloud State 16 (H) - Brock Beran catches a 47-yard hail mary pass from Noel Bouché with eight seconds remaining to give the Jackrabbits a Hobo Day victory.
• Sept. 18, 1999: SDSU 38, Augustana 31 (H) - Casey Hillman returns an interception 53 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds left in regulation to lift Jackrabbits in North Central Conference opener.
• Oct. 2, 1999: SDSU 34, Morningside 28 (H) - Andy Rennerfeldt finds Greg Niederauer in the end zone from 28 yards out as Jackrabbits spoil Morningside's upset bid with 18 seconds to go.
• Oct. 9, 1999: SDSU 34, Minnesota State, Mankato 28 (A) - Jackrabbits win in the final minute for the second week in a row as Rennerfeldt scores on a 13-yard run with 53 seconds remaining.
• Sept. 16, 2000: SDSU 25, Augustana 24 (A) - Josh Ranek scores on a 4-yard touchdown run and adds the two-point conversion with 46 seconds remaining as SDSU completes comeback after trailing 24-0 at halftime at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls
• Oct. 9, 2004: SDSU 24, North Dakota State 21 (H) - Chris Molitor scores on a 22-yard pass from Brad Nelson with 39 seconds left in the game as the Jackrabbits win the inaugural Dakota Marker Game.
• Sept. 30, 2006: SDSU 20, McNeese State (La.) 17 (A) - Parker Douglass connects on a 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining in regulation as SDSU outscores McNeese 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
• Sept. 27, 2008: SDSU 50, Stephen F. Austin (Texas) 48 (A) - Kyle Minett scores from a yard out on the final play of the game to cap a wild Jackrabbit comeback. SDSU trailed 34-6 midway thorugh the third quarter before beginning its fierce comeback.
Two others came close by mere seconds:
• Oct. 20, 2006: SDSU 29, Cal Poly 28 (A) - Andy Kardoes hooks up with JaRon Harris on three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, then Kardoes scores the decisive two-point conversion with 1:05 to play. SDSU outscores Cal Poly 23-0 in the fourth quarter en route to the victory.
• Oct. 27, 2006: SDSU 22, UC Davis 21 (H) - For the second straight week, the Jackrabbits record a one-point victory thanks to a 9-yard touchdown pass from Kardoes to Dusty Snyders with 1:08 remaining in the Hobo Day game.
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU's 43-36 double-overtime victory at Missouri State last season ended a four-game losing streak in overtime games for the Jackrabbits.
Overall, SDSU is 2-4 in overtime games, with both home contests played on Hobo Day. The Jackrabbits won their inaugural overtime game, 30-27 in two overtimes against Nebraska-Omaha in the 1998 Hobo Day game, then dropped a 46-44, triple-overtime decision to McNeese State (La.) in the 2008 Hobo Day game.
Following is a complete list of SDSU's overtime games:
1998: SDSU 30, Nebraska-Omaha 27 (2 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
2002: Augustana 39, SDSU 33 (3 OT - at Sioux Falls)
2004: Southern Utah 23, SDSU 17 (2 OT - at Cedar City, Utah)
2007: Western Illinois 29, SDSU 26 (4 OT - at Macomb, Ill.)
2008: McNeese State 46, SDSU 44 (3 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
2011: SDSU 43, Missouri State 36 (2 OT - at Springfield, Mo.)
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2012 football season, head coach John Stiegelmeier will be a guest on the "Jackrabbit Insider," a weekly behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University athletics.
The half-hour television show which features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based KTTW FOX 7. The show is also broadcast on FOX Sports North at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and on FOX College Sports Central at select times (check listings). Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
A LOOK AHEAD: Should the Jackrabbits win Saturday, they will face the winner between New Hampshire and Wofford (S.C.). The location of the national quarterfinal game would be determined late Saturday.