Jacks face first road test at UND
The nationally ranked South Dakota State University football team faces its first road test of the season Saturday, traveling to Grand Forks, N.D., for a meeting against longtime rival North Dakota.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Alerus Center.
Both teams are coming off home victories against Pioneer Football League opponents in the opening week of action. The Jackrabbits handled Butler (Ind.), 55-14, on Aug. 31, while UND drubbed Valparaiso (Ind.), 69-10, on Aug. 29.
SDSU enters the week ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision media poll conducted by The Sports Network and seventh in the FCS Coaches Poll.
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game will mark the 85th meeting between South Dakota State and North Dakota on the football field. UND leads the overall series by a 46-33-5 count.
The two schools first met in 1906, with South Dakota State recording a 5-4 victory. UND and SDSU met every year from 1922 until 2003 as members of the North Central Conference, with the exception of 1943-47 due to World War II.
SDSU and UND have met only once since both schools moved to Division I and the Football Championship Subdivision. The Jackrabbits shut out UND, 21-0, on Nov. 19, 2010, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. Tyler Duffy ran for a career-high 127 yards on 36 carries and scored both SDSU touchdowns.
The Jackrabbits last played in Grand Forks on Sept. 29, 2001, dropping a 44-9 decision. That game was SDSU’s only previous appearance at the Alerus Center.
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 and video streaming are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at 5 p.m. 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
• KJOE 106.1 FM-Pipestone, Minn.
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KOTA 1380 AM-Rapid City
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
Video will be available through the Big Sky Conference at www.WatchBigSky.com. The game also is being televised on Midco Sports Net and Fox College Sports.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four captains:
• Brandon Hubert, Sr., wide receiver, Gretna, Neb.
• Austin Sumner, Jr., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Sr., defensive back, Lee’s Summit, Mo.;
• Zach Zenner, Jr., running back, Eagan, Minn.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition last season by naming non-senior players as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class. Sumner and Wright are two-year captains.
RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University football team entered the 2013 season with its highest national ranking as a member of the Football Championship Subdivison by holding down the sixth spot in The Sports Network Preseason Top 25.
SDSU, coached by John Stiegelmeier, also was ranked seventh in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll. The Jackrabbits also are ranked fourth by Lindy’s College Football, ninth by College Sporting News and 10th by Athlon College Football.
Following their season-opening victory over Butler, the Jackrabbits remain sixth in the Sports Network poll and seventh in the FCS Coaches poll this week.
The Jackrabbits return 15 starters to a squad that advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs. SDSU’s previous high national ranking in either of the most-recognized polls was a ninth-place showing in 2010 preseason polls by both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches, following the Jackrabbits’ inaugural berth in the FCS playoffs in 2009.
Two-time defending national champion and Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State held on to the top spot in both polls this week.
VALLEY PREVIEW: South Dakota State has been picked to finish second in the 2013 Missouri Valley Football Conference race, according to a preseason poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors that was released in late July.
The Jackrabbits, who placed second in the league last season with a 6-2 record en route to a 9-4 overall mark and berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, tallied 323 points in the poll. Defending league champion and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State was a unanimous first-place selection, garnering all 39 first-place votes for 390 points. Northern Iowa (269), Illinois State (264) and Youngstown State (253) rounded out the upper half of the 10-team league.
Completing the poll were Indiana State (197), Southern Illinois (188), Missouri State (123), Western Illinois (77) and South Dakota (61).
Although the voters all agreed that NDSU is their top choice, there was a wide variance for the league's other nine teams, as seven teams were picked to finish in five or more different positions.
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 15 times (in 27 previous polls). North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season.
In addition, four Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team.
Headlining South Dakota State's four selections to the preseason all-league team were returning first-team honorees Bryan Witzmann and Zach Zenner. A senior offensive tackle, Witzmann has started all 35 of the Jackrabbits' games over the last three seasons. Zenner, meanwhile, set a league single-season record for rushing yards during the 2012 season, totaling an FCS-best 2,044 yards in 13 games.
Joining Witzmann and Zenner on the preseason team were defensive end Doug Peete and linebacker T.J. Lally, who both were second-team all-MVFC selections a year ago. Peete led the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss and shared the team lead with six sacks a season ago. Lally put together a strong redshirt freshman season in 2012, ranking second on the team with 107 tackles and also sharing the team lead with six sacks.
North Dakota State led with 10 selection to the MVFC Preseason Team, including returning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Williams. Northern Iowa was second with six honorees, followed by SDSU and Illinois State.
Each of the 10 league teams had at least one player named to the preseason team.
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA: The University of North Dakota football team used big plays and a balanced offense to win its season opener over Valparaiso (Ind.), 69-10, on Aug. 29.
UND scored on its opening play from scrimmage as quarterback Ryan Bartels hooked up with standout wide receiver Greg Hardin for a 75-yard touchdown. Hardin finished with five catches for 163 yards and added a 90-yard kickoff return for his 30th career TD. Bartels finished the night 10-of-12 passing for 212 yards.
Kenny Golladay added a a 64-yard punt return for touchodwn.
The UND rushing attack also got into the action, scoring six times. Jake Miller tallied 108 yards on 17 carries with three scores, while backup Adam Shaugabay scored on three short runs in five attempts.
Dayo Idowu led an active UND defense with eight tackles.
UND has been picked to finish seventh in the Big Sky Conference by both the league’s coaches and media.
LAST MEETING: Tyler Duffy rushed for a career-high 127 yards with two touchdowns, and the South Dakota State defense recorded a season-high six sacks en route to a 21-0 shutout victory over the University of North Dakota in the 2010 football season finale at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jacks wrapped up the season with a 5-6 overall record, while UND fell to 3-8.
Special teams set the tone early for the Jackrabbits. Cole Brodie returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to the UND 31-yard line and another 15 yards were tacked on after a personal foul penalty. The SDSU drive stalled, however, before Peter Reifenrath kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Jackrabbits ahead 3-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ross Shafrath jarred the ball loose from return man R.J. McGill and Winston Wright recovered at the UND 25. Again the Jackrabbits failed to pick up a first down but Reifenrath split the uprights from 34 yards out to give SDSU a 6-0 lead before UND had run an offensive play.
When UND finally went on offense, the Jackrabbit defense proved stingy. Dirk Kool ended the first UND drive with an interception in Jackrabbit territory and the next UND drive ended with a three-and-out.
After R.C. Kilgore partially blocked a punt, the Jackrabbits put together their first touchdown drive. Thomas O'Brien completed passes of 17 and 28 yards to Tyrel Kool and Colin Cochart, respectively, before Duffy capped the eight-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. O’Brien connected with Alex Beyer on the two-point conversion to put the Jackrabbits up 14-0.
SDSU put together one of its longest scoring drives of the season early in the second quarter. Starting at their own 14, the Jackrabbits marched 86 yards on 14 plays, chewing up more than six minutes on the clock, before Duffy scored from 5 yards out.
The Jackrabbits appeared on the verge of putting UND in a deeper hole just before halftime. A 50-yard pass from O’Brien to Tyrel Kool set SDSU up first and goal from the 10. The Jackrabbits moved the ball to the 6, but a holding penalty and bobbled snap on what would have been a 33-yard field goal attempt thwarted the drive.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle as the two teams combined for nine three-and-outs — six in the third quarter alone. SDSU managed only two first downs in the final 30 minutes of play.
UND put together the most sustained drive of the half, moving the ball 51 yards out of the shadow of its own end zone before being forced to punt.
SDSU preserved the shutout as Brodie, a senior, notched his team-leading fifth interception in the closing seconds.
The Jackrabbit defense allowed only 185 yards of total offense — 89 on the ground and 96 through the air. Mike Lien led the way with 12 tackles, including a sack, followed by Derek Domino with 10 stops. Dirk Kool tallied a team-high two sacks as part of a seven-tackle performance.
Duffy, playing in place of an injured Kyle Minett, racked up 36 carries en route to his 127 yards. O’Brien finished the game 19-of-38 passing for 235 yards. Brandon Hubert caught a career-high nine passes for 88 yards, while Tyrel Kool ended the day with six catches for 105 yards.
UND quarterbacks combined to complete only 12-of-34 passes for 96 yards. Brent Goska was 11-of-27 for 90 yards, while Marcus Hendrickson went 1-for-7 for six yards. Josh Murray gained 50 yards on 12 carries and also led the receiving unit with five catches for 36 yards.
Mitch Goertz was UND's top tackler with 13 stops.
SUMNER AT THE HELM: Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner is poised to take over the top spot in career passing this season.
A junior from Brandon, Sumner has tallied 5,151 passing yards through two-plus seasons to rank sixth in SDSU history. He has played in 24 career games, making 21 starts. During his first season, he set a Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing en route to being named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award as the top first-year player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Despite playing through injury in 2012, Sumner helped lead the Jackrabbits to an FCS playoff berth with 2,443 passing yards.
Sumner jumped two spots into sixth place on the SDSU career passing charts en route to his seventh career 300-yard passing game in the 2013 season opener against Butler (Ind.). Sumner ended the night 22-of-32 for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
A junior from Eagan, Minn., Zenner is one of 11 finalists from the 2012 season to appear on the official watch list, which was announced in July. A consensus All-America selection last season, Zenner placed seventh in the balloting after joining the watch list a month into the 2012 campaign.
Zenner led the nation in rushing during the 2012 season, racking up 2,044 yards in 13 games for an average of 157.2 yards per contest. He crossed the 100-yard mark in nine games and topped 200 yards three times, including a school-record 295 yards in the opening round of the FCS playoffs Nov. 24 versus Eastern Illinois. Zenner averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 28 receptions for 197 yards.
Zenner picked up where he left off, accounting for all the Jackrabbit offense on the opening drive of the season Aug. 31 versus Butler (Ind.). He broke off a 39-yard run on his first carry of the night, then scored from 36 yards out on his second attempt. For the game, Zenner carried the ball 16 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
The Walter Payton Award will be presented by The Sports Network on Dec. 16.
LALLY LEADS LINEBACKERS: For the second year in a row, the South Dakota State University football team had a player under consideration for the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Linebacker T.J. Lally was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award following a stellar season in which he ranked second on the team with 107 tackles, shared the team lead with six sacks and ranked fourth with eight tackles for loss. Lally started all 13 games at middle linebacker and registered double figures for tackles in five games, including a career-high 11 in a playoff loss at North Dakota State
A member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team in 2012, Lally was 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 were considered for the award.
Lally was credited with four tackles in the 2013 season opener versus Butler.
SYROVATKA SETS RECORD: South Dakota State kicker Justin Syrovatka will look to add to his Jackrabbit record for consecutive made field goal attempts.
A junior from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka set a new Jackrabbit standard with 14 consecutive made field goals after connecting from 35 and 36 yards in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.). He made his last 12 field goal attempts of the 2012 season and first two attempts of the 2013 campaign.
Starting with a victory over Western Illinois on Oct. 11, 2012, Syrovatka has gone 7-for-7 from 20-29 yards, 3-for-3 on field goals of 30-39 yards and 4-for-4 from 40-plus yards, including a career-long 48-yarder in the Nov. 17, 2012, regular season finale against South Dakota.
Syrovatka’s last miss came on a 32-yard attempt Sept. 29 versus Missouri State. He ended the season 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) on field goals and is 26-for-34 (76.5 percent) for his career. He also is 62-of-63 on career PATs and is working on a streak of 21 consecutive made.
The previous Jackrabbit record for consecutive made field goal attempts was 13, which was set by Parker Douglass between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
SCHNEIDER STEPS UP: After graduating its top two wide receivers from a year ago, South Dakota State had some question marks as to who would be the go-to -players in the passing game. Junior Jason Schneider emerged as an early candidate in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.), recording career highs with 10 receptions and 167 receiving yards, along with two touchdowns.
A native of Andover, Minn., Schneider’s yardage total was the most since Dale Moss racked up 178 yards in a 2011 game at Missouri State. The last Jackrabbit receiver to notch double figures for receptions in a game was Tyrel Kool with 10 in a 2010 contest at Northern Iowa.
Schneider entered the season with 37 career catches, recording 18 in 2011 and 19 in 2012.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Three true freshman made their collegiate debuts for the Jackrabbits in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler. Linebacker Jesse Bobbit made three tackles, while defensive lineman Cole Langer was credited with one tackle. Long snapper Thayer Trenhaile also saw action versus Butler.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team has received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright over the past two seasons.
Natives of Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A senior, Winston Wright has started all 25 games at cornerback since the start of the 2011 campaign, earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors in 2011. He led the team with three interceptions to go along with 57 tackles in 2011, followed by a 59-tackle, one-interception season in 2012. He began his colllegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a junior wide receiver who has seen most of his action as a kick returner. Last season, he averaged 20.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns and added a 39-yard punt return in limited action.
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 103-76 record (.573 winning percentage). SDSU has posted seven winning seasons in the school’s nine full seasons at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level, compiling a 61-43 record since moving to the FCS ranks in 2004. Overall, the Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 12 of Stiegelmeier’s 16 full years as head coach, and have a 27-13 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs twice (2009, 2012) under Stiegelmeier’s guidance.
Under Stiegelmeier’s guidance, SDSU has appeared in the FCS rankings six of the last seven seasons. The Jacks cracked the national poll for the first time in late October 2006, after posting back-to-back come-from-behind victories over Cal Poly and UC Davis. After climbing as high as No. 19 on the final week of the regular season, the Jackrabbits finished the 2006 season ranked 22nd by the Sports Network.
Stiegelmeier, 56, 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 the Jackrabbits’ victory at McNeese State (La.) on Sept. 30, 2006, Coach Stig passed Gregory (55-50-3 from 1972-81) for sole possession of second place on the SDSU career wins list.
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU’s 43-36 double-overtime victory at Missouri State during the 2011 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 2013 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 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based MyUTV. The show is also broadcast on KELO-TV at 11 p.m. Central Sunday and at 10 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday on KDLO-TV. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
STIG SHOW: The John Stiegelmeier Radio Show airs each Monday throughout the 2013 football season.
The show is scheduled to air at 5 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, originating with flagship station WNAX 570 AM in Yankton. In addition, the weekly show also will be streamed online at GoJacks.com as part of the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service.
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show will also feature interviews with Jackrabbit student-athletes and assistant coaches. Jackrabbit fans are encouraged to attend the show in person at Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill, 307 Main Ave., in downtown Brookings.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits return home to square off against Southeastern Louisiana in the 47th Annual Beef Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 6:05 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Earlier in the day, the Jackrabbit football team will host a free youth clinic on the practice fields adjacent to the stadium.
For the second year in a row, the Jackrabbits also will raise awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet organization’s Million Shoes Initiative. Samaritan’s Feet is a non-profit organization that provides shoes to deserving children both at home and abroad.
For more information, log on to GoJacks.com.