Jackrabbits hit the road to Missouri State
The South Dakota State University football team closes out a two-game road swing Saturday afternoon when it travels to Springfield, Mo., for a matchup against Missouri State.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Plaster Field on the Missouri State University campus. The game is scheduled to be televised on Mediacom cable systems, with video streaming available through MissouriStateBears.com/allaccess.
The Jackrabbits, ranked 15th in this week’s Sports Network poll and 18th in the FCS Coaches poll, enter the week with a 4-3 overall record and 1-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU ended a three-game losing streak and picked up its first league win of the season, defeating Western Illinois, 38-14, Oct. 12 in Macomb, Ill.
Missouri State, meanwhile, dropped a 41-26 decision at top-ranked North Dakota State last week to fall to 1-6 overall, 1-2 in the MVFC. The Bears’ lone victory of the season so far has been a 37-10 win over Illinois State on Sept. 28.
FOUR-DOWN TERRITORY: Four quick notes on the Jackrabbits:
• The Jackrabbits lead the Football Championship Subdivision in passes intercepted with 15;
• SDSU is plus-13 in turnover margin this season to rank second in FCS, forcing six lost fumbles and intercepting 15 passes;
• The Jackrabbits’ 15 interceptions have come from nine different players — Winston Wright leads the team with three interceptions;
• Junior quarterback Austin Sumner enters Saturday’s game as the SDSU career passing with 6,430 yards and, with 514 career completions, has tied Ryan Berry’s career mark of 514 set from 2005-08.
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the sixth meeting between South Dakota State and Missouri State, a series that began when the Jackrabbits joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference at the start of the 2008 season.
The Jackrabbits have won all five previous meetings.
Previous results include:
• Nov. 1, 2008: SDSU 43, Missouri State 13 (at Brookings)
• Oct. 10, 2009: SDSU 24, Missouri State 17 (at Springfield, Mo.)
• Nov. 6, 2010: SDSU 31, Missouri State 10 (at Brookings)
• Oct. 29, 2011: SDSU 43, Missouri State 36 [2 OT] (at Springfield, Mo.)
• Sept. 29, 2012: SDSU 17, Missouri State 7 (at Brookings)
Each of the two games in the series played at Plaster Field have gone down to the wire. In 2009, the Jackrabbits led 24-10 entering the fourth quarter, only to hold off the Bears in the closing seconds. A 5-yard touchdown pass from Cody Kirby to Jared Emery with 5:29 to play pulled Missouri State to within 24-17.
The Bear defense then forced SDSU to punt on its next possession and quickly moved the ball down the field. On first-and-goal from the SDSU 6 with under a minute to play, General Parnell intercepted a Kirby pass in the end zone to seal the Jackrabbit victory.
The 2011 contest featured more than 900 yards of total offense as the Jackrabbits prevailed in double overtime, 43-36. The Jackrabbits trailed 29-22 midway through the fourth quarter, but Austin Sumner hooked up with Dale Moss on an 80-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime.
Missouri State scored a touchdown to open overtime, but the Jackrabbits needed only one play to again tie the game as Sumner connected with Moss on a 25-yard touchdown. Sumner completed 20-of-31 passes for 377 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
In the second overtime, Zach Zenner scored on a 2-yard run to put the Jackrabbits ahead 43-36, and the SDSU defense held Missouri State without a first down on its next possession to secure the victory.
MEDIA 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 high-definition video streaming are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for a year of coverage.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at noon 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
• KDSJ 980 AM-Deadwood
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KJOE 106.1 FM-Pipestone, Minn.
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
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 were ranked fourth by Lindy’s College Football, ninth by College Sporting News and 10th by Athlon College Football.
Despite a three-game losing streak earlier this year, the Jackrabbits have remained in both national polls throughout the season. This week, SDSU dropped two spots to 15th in the Sports Network poll and held steady at 18th in the FCS Coaches’ poll.
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.
SCOUTING MISSOURI STATE: The Missouri State University football team is in search of another strong finish.
Last season, the Bears started the season with a six-game losing streak that was followed by a three-game winning streak. Thus far in 2013, Missouri State has a 1-6 record, but will look to turn things around starting Saturday in its homecoming game.
The Bears are paced offensively by dual-threat quarterback Kierra Harris, who has started all seven games. Harris has tallied 1,090 yards through the air with five touchdowns, and has added 226 yards rushing to go along with a team-best seven scores.
Harris is one of three players with more than 200 yards rushing this season. Senior running back Vernon Scott leads the team with 296 yards, followed by Mikael Cooper-Falls with 275. Phoenix Johnson could join the group this week as he has 166 yards through seven games.
The wide receiving tandem of junior Julian Burton and senior Dorian Buford ranks among the best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Burton has hauled in 33 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns, while Buford has added 24 catches for 383 yards and three scores. Burton also sees extensive action on punt and kick returns, posting respective averages of 6.3 and 22.7 yards per return.
All-America safety Caleb Schaffitzel leads the Bear defense. A junior, Schaffitzel has tallied 58 tackles and two interceptions to lead the team in both categories. Inside linebacker Andrew Beisel ranks second on the squad with 53 tackles, followed by defensive back Sybrhian Berry with 50.
Outside linebacker Nick Canavan has notched a team-high six tackles for loss, including two sacks, among his 36 total tackles. As a unit, the Bear defense ranks third in the MVFC against the run, allowing an average of 101 yards per game in three league contests.
The Bears have used two different kickers this season. Incumbent kicker Austin Witmer is off to a 2-for-5 start on field goals, while Marcelo Bonani is a perfect 3-for-3.
SUMNER SETS RECORDS: Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner has rewritten the Jackrabbit record book in a number of career categories during the 2013 season.
A junior, Sumner has vaulted in the top spot for career passing yards with 6,430 entering play Saturday. With a 276-yard performance Oct. 5 against Southern Illinois, Sumner moved past both Ted Wahl (6,016 yards from 1985-88) and Ryan Berry (6,023 yards from 2005-08) for the all-time lead. Sumner began the season in eighth place for career passing yards and has totaled 1,605 yards through the first seven games this season.
His 886 career pass attempts have surpassed the previous record of 834 set by Berry, and with 514 completions heading into Saturday’s game at Missouri State, Sumner also has matched Berry’s career mark of 514.
Sumner has played in 30 career games and made 27 starts, holding a 17-10 record as the team’s top signal-caller. 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.
The Brandon native recorded his seventh career 300-yard passing game in the 2013 season opener against Butler (Ind.), ending the night 22-of-32 for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner is one of 20 players named to the initial 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List for the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
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.
For the season, Zenner averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 28 receptions for 197 yards.
Zenner again ranks among the nation’s leaders in rushing, standing second in the Football Championship Subdivision with 991 total rushing yards, and an average of 141.6 yards per game. His 14 rushing touchdowns rank second among FCS players and his 15 total touchdowns (1 receiving) put him in third place for scoring with an average of 12.9 points per game. Zenner also ranks fifth in all-purpose yards with an average of 170.9 yards per game as he has added 13 receptions for 205 yards.
He has topped the 100-yard mark in six games this season, including tying his own school record with 295 yards — on a career-high 37 carries — Sept. 7 at North Dakota, a rushing total that is the most in a single game by an FCS player this season. Zenner was selected as National Offensive Player of the Week by the Sports Network and earned both National Performer of the Week and National Running Back of the Week accolades from College Football Performance Awards. He also was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
For his career, Zenner has crossed the 100-yard barrier 15 times and topped the 200-yard mark five times, including a 21-carry, 202-yard performance Sept. 21 at Nebraska, when he was again named MVFC Offensive Player of the Week. He enters the weekend fourth in career rushing at South Dakota State with 3,505 yards.
Zenner, who has three rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards this season, including a season-long 80-yarder last week at Western Illinois, has had a penchant for long runs. His 13 rushing touchdowns in 2012 covered an average of 42.8 yards, including a school-record 99-yarder at Kansas in the season opener. So far in 2013, Zenner has averaged 21.7yards on his 14 touchdown runs.
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 a season-high 10 tackles in the Sept. 14 win over Southeastern Louisiana, recording double figures in stops for the sixth time in his career. The previous week, in a road win at North Dakota, Lally was credited with five tackles. He also tipped a pass that resulted in a game-ending interception late in the fourth quarter.
KILGORE WAS HERE: Senior linebacker R.C. Kilgore set a new career high for tackles in three consecutive weeks to take over the team lead in tackles.
A native of Cottage Grove, Minn., Kilgore was credited with 10 tackles in the Sept. 14 Beef Bowl victory over Southeastern Louisiana, then registered 15 tackles Sept. 21 at Nebraska. He followed those performances with 17 tackles Sept 28. against North Dakota State. After again posting 15 tackles last week at Western Illinois, Kilgore comes into Saturday’s game with a team-best 72 tackles.
Kilgore also holds the team lead with four takeaways this season. He recovered a pair of fumbles Sept. 21 at Nebraska and added a fumble recovery Oct. 5 against Southern Illinois. He also recorded his first career interception Sept. 7 at North Dakota.
SYROVATKA STREAK ENDS: South Dakota State kicker Justin Syrovatka had his school-record streak of 15 consecutive made field goals end when he missed a 32-yard attempt in the third quarter of the Sept. 21 game at Nebraska.
A junior from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka extended his new Jackrabbit standard to 15 by tying his career long with a 48-yarder in the first quarter at Nebraska. Following his miss, Syrovatka connected on a 29-yard field goal to cap the SDSU scoring in the fourth quarter.
Syrovatka’s streak began on Oct. 11, 2012, in a victory over Western Illinois. He made his last 12 field goal attempts of the 2012 season and first three attempts of the 2013 campaign, going 7-for-7 from 20-29 yards, 3-for-3 on field goals of 30-39 yards and 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards.
Syrovatka’s last miss prior to the Nebraska game also came on a 32-yard attempt Sept. 29, 2012, versus Missouri State. He ended the 2012 season 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) on field goals and is 30-for-42 (71.4 percent) for his career. He also is 81-of-82 on career PATs and is working on a streak of 40 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 receivers from a year ago, South Dakota State had some question 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 has been the leading receiver in terms of catches in five of the Jackrabbits’ seven games this season, including a seven-catch, 118-yard performance Oct. 12 at Western Illinois. For the year, Schneider leads the team with 40 receptions for 571 yards and four touchdowns. He is leads the Missouri Valley Football Conference in both receptions (5.7 per game) and receiving yards (81.6 yards per game).
HUBERT NEARS TOP 10s: Senior wide receiver Brandon Hubert is nearing moving into the Jackrabbit career top 10 in a pair of receiving categories.
A team captain from Gretna, Neb., Hubert enters the weekend with 116 career receptions for 1,501 yards. He stands three catches and 199 receiving yards outside the top 10.
Last week, Hubert was named a semifinalist for the Williams V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually by the National Football Foundation to the top scholar-athlete in college football. Besides being a key member of the Jackrabbit football team, Hubert has excelled in the classroom, compiling a 3.70 grade-point average while majoring in pharmacy.
From the list of 170 semifinalists, up to 16 players will be selected as finalists for the Campbell Trophy on Oct. 31. All finalists will comprise the 2013 National Scholar-Athlete Class and will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Finalists also will be invited to attend the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 10 in New York City.
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 31 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.
GOOD WORKS TEAM: South Dakota State University cornerback Winston Wright is one of 22 college football players from across the country named to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
A senior from Lee’s Summit, Mo., Wright has organized or participated in numerous service activities, including leading two groups of SDSU students to Harmons, Jamaica, and assisting in the building of six homes.
Wright also has participated in shoe donations and sports camps on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Samaritan’s Feet, along with mentoring children and speaking at local schools and churches about making positive decisions.
Wright, who is a three-year starter and two-year captain for the Jackrabbits, is the first SDSU player to be named to the Good Works Team. A record 150 football student-athletes were nominated for this year’s squad.
The 22-player team is made up of 11 players from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, with the other 11 players from Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA institutions.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain through ESPN.com. All award recipients will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a community project leading up to the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
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 106-79 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 62-45 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 28-15 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs twice (2009, 2012) under Stiegelmeier’s guidance.
NEW STADIUM ON HORIZON: South Dakota State University officials announced on Oct. 5 lead gifts totaling $12.5 million from Sioux Falls banker Dana Dykhouse and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford toward the construction of a new football stadium.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the 100th Hobo Day game at SDSU.
The proposed stadium, which would have a seating capacity of 18,500 to 20,000, would replace Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which has served as the home of Jackrabbit football since 1962. The new stadium would be built on the current Coughlin-Alumni Stadium site, with completion scheduled for the summer of 2016.
In recent years SDSU has regularly drawn crowds well above the capacity of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which has permanent seating totaling about 11,000. The stadium attendance record of 16,498 was set Sept. 28, when the Jackrabbits hosted North Dakota State.
University officials will present a facility program plan for the estimated $60 million project to the South Dakota Board of Regents in December and, pending BOR approval, will seek authority from the South Dakota Legislature in the spring. Construction would be done in phases, with the east and south sides of the stadium scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015 and the west side finished the following year.
Plans call for the stadium to be funded through private gifts and long-term revenue streams, including concessions and suite, loge box and ticket sales. The intention is to secure bonds to finance up to two-thirds of the project’s construction with bonds, with the remaining third coming from private support.
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.
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 10:30 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.
ACADEMIC AWARD: The South Dakota State football team was presented with the Missouri Valley Football Conference Team Academic Award during the Sept. 14 game against Southeastern Louisiana. The Jackrabbits, who compiled a 3.02 team grade-point average during the 2012-13 academic year, have received the MVFC Team Academic Award each of the five seasons they have competed in the conference.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits return home to face nationally ranked Northern Iowa in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Oct. 26. The 2013 Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame class of Kim Fordham Lien (track and field), Marty Johnson (men’s tennis), Tim Johnson (baseball) and Dan Sonnek (football) will be honored during a morning luncheon and also recognized at halftime of the football game.
Kickoff for the Hall of Fame game is set for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.