Jacks roll past Coyotes, 31-8
South Dakota State scored three first-quarter touchdowns as the 21st-ranked Jackrabbits marked the resumption of its in-state rivalry with the University of South Dakota by registering a 31-8 victory before a crowd of 15,278 Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits improved to 8-3 overall and finished alone in second place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 6-2 mark. SDSU will find out its postseason fate when Football Championship Subdivision playoff pairings are announced at 12:30 p.m. Central Time Sunday on ESPNU. USD ended its season 1-10 overall and 0-9 in league play.
SDSU scored on its opening drive in the inaugural South Dakota Showdown Series game, converting twice on third down before quarterback Austin Sumner connected with Aaron Rollin on a 7-yard touchdown pass less than five minutes into the game. The opening drive covered 75 yards on 10 plays.
The Jackrabbits pushed the lead to 14-0 two minutes later when Doug Pette stripped Coyote quarterback Josh Vander Maten of the ball and Chris Tracy rambled with the fumble 43 yards for a touchdown.
SDSU's third scoring drive of the quarter covered 64 yards on eight plays. Zach Zenner accounted for 36 of the yards either on the ground or through the air before Cam Jones finished off the drive with a 1-yard run.
Zenner jump-started a Jackrabbit scoring drive late in the first half with a 25-yard run on the first play. Sumner then completed four consecutive passes before a pass interference penalty gave SDSU the ball at the Coyote 31. With three seconds remaining in the half, Justin Syrovatka booted a career-long 48-yard field goal to give the Jackrabbits a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Jackrabbit defense limited USD to 87 yards of total offense in the first half.
USD put together two time-consuming, sustained drives in the third quarter but came up empty on two trips inside the red zone. The first drive ended on downs, with the second drive ending on a missed 32-yard field goal.
The Coyotes again threatened early in the fourth, but Skyler Luxa came around the corner to block a 44-yard field goal attempt.
USD finally broke into the scoring column midway though the fourth via its special teams unit. Kyle Shanker blocked a Jackrabbit punt and Mike Garvey scooped up the ball at the SDSU 27 and ran into the end zone for a touchdown. Vander Maten hooked up with Tyler Wilhelm to make the score 24-8.
SDSU recovered the ensuing onside kick and took advantage of the short field, with Zenner rushing for 17 yards before Tyrel Kool gained the next 39 yards on a pair of receptions to put the ball inside the 1-yard line. Zenner capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge for his 10th touchdown of the season.
Zenner finished the game with 164 yards on 28 carries. Sumner completed 20-of-30 passes for 272 yards. Tyrel Kool led Jackrabbit receivers with seven catches for a season-high 112 yards.
SDSU held a 428-266 advantage in total offense, holding the Coyotes to 22 net yards rushing in 22 attempts.
Vander Maten completed 21-of-36 passes for 219 yards. Will Powell posted game highs of eight catches for 118 yards. Terrance Terry added six receptions for 47 yards.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Je Ryan Butler led the Jackrabbit defense with eight tackles, including two for loss. He also intercepted a pass late in the game and added a pass breakup. Ross Shafrath added seven tackles.
Devin Taverna notched a game-high nine tackles to lead USD. In addition to his blocked punt, Shanker recorded seven tackles, including two and a half sacks.
NOTES: Saturday's game was the first meeting between the two in-state schools since 2003 ... SDSU has won the last four meetings and 15 of 18 ... USD leads the all-time series, 50-49-6 ... the Jackrabbits wore throwback uniforms that were replicas of the home jerseys worn during the mid-1980s ... the crowd was the seventh-largest in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium history ... Zenner finished the regular season with 1,703 yards in topping the 100-yard mark for the eighth time this season ... Butler recorded an interception for the second consecutive game ... fellow redshirt freshman Jimmie Forsythe recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter ... Sumner crossed the 2,000-yard mark for passing for the second season in a row ... Kool and Aaron Rollin finished the day tied for sixth in career receptions at SDSU with 130 ... the Jackrabbits recorded their third eight-win season under head coach John Stiegelmeier