After having its playoff and Missouri Valley Football Conference title hopes all but dashed last week, the South Dakota State University football team will open the final month of the season attempting to play the role of spoiler as it hosts Missouri State in the annual Hall of Fame Game Saturday afternoon.
Kickoff is slated for 1:05 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Missouri State remains in the thick of the MVFC race with a 3-2 league record and stands 4-4 overall. The Bears won a 51-41 shootout over Southern Illinois last week in Springfield, Mo. MSU has a road date with league-leading Northern Iowa next week, followed by a Nov. 20 home matchup against North Dakota State.
SDSU, meanwhile, had its three-game winning streak snapped in a 41-30 loss at Indiana State. The Jackrabbits are even in league play at 3-3, but are 3-5 overall. SDSU is trying to avoid its first losing season at the Football Championship Subdivision level; the Jackrabbits’ last finished below .500 in 2001, when they finished the year 5-6.
The 2010 Hall of Fame class of Kristin (Asp) Schoffman, Steve Brown, Jennifer (Johnson) Kornbaum and Mark Tetzlaff will be honored at halftime.
THE SERIES: Today’s matchup marks only the third meeting between South Dakota State and Missouri State in football, a series that began when the Jackrabbits joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference at the start of the 2008 season.
SDSU has claimed each of the first two meetings, posting a 43-13 victory in the inaugural game between the two squads on Nov. 1, 2008, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. In that matchup, Kyle Minett recorded a career-high 205 yards rushing and JaRon Harris caught two third-quarter touchdowns from Ryan Berry en route to 10 catches for 169 yards.
The Jackrabbits pulled out a road win last season against Missouri State, claiming a hard-fought 24-17 victory on Oct. 10, 2009, at Plaster Field in Springfield, Mo. General Parnell intercepted two passes, including one in the end zone in the final minute to seal the victory. SDSU quarterback Thomas O’Brien made his first career start, completing 14-of-21 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Minett ran for 105 yards and a touchdown.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of Saturday’s game is scheduled to be available via subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio and video streaming of select games are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage. An audio-only subscription also is available for $4.95 per month, with programming consisting only of live radio broadcasts.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins on flagship station WNAX 570 AM at 12:30 p.m. Central Time, with an expanded pre-game show. Steve Imming returns to call the play-by-play, with Tyler Merriam providing color commentary. The game also can be heard on the following Jackrabbit Sports Network stations, starting at 1:30 p.m. CT:
• Belle Fourche: KBFS 1450 AM • Brookings: KJJQ 910 AM
• Mobridge: KOLY 1300 AM • Pierre: KGFX 1060 AM
• Rapid City: KRKI 99.5 FM • Watertown: KWAT 950 AM
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2010 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 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
SLOW STARTS: South Dakota State’s 0-4 start to the 2010 campaign marked the first time since 1969 the Jackrabbits had gone winless through their first four games.
After starting both the 2006 and 2007 seasons with 0-3 records, SDSU rebounded to contend for conference titles. The 2006 squad reeled off seven consecutive victories after an 0-3 start to set up a showdown with North Dakota State for the Great West Football Conference championship — a game the Bison eventually won 41-28 at the Fargodome.
In 2007, the Jackrabbits won six of their final seven games, including their final five contests, to claim the GWFC title. SDSU defeated previously unbeaten North Dakota State, 29-24, in the season finale to win their first league title in football in 44 years.
SLOW STARTS, PART II: The Jackrabbits put an end to their first-quarter scoring struggles as they scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the Oct. 23 game against Youngstown State for their first points in the opening quarter this season.
Through the first eight games, SDSU has been outscored 97-55 in the first half, including a 46-7 margin in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits hold a 103-94 scoring advantage in the second half of games.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The South Dakota State University football team has enjoyed a home-field advantage at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium since making the move to the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Since joining the FCS ranks at the start of the 2004 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 27-8 mark at CAS, including a 9-2 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Lights were installed at CAS prior to the 2001 season and SDSU has turned in a 21-6 record in home night games.
Overall, SDSU has compiled a 160-99 record in 49 seasons at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
ATTENDANCE STREAK: South Dakota State has enjoyed playing in front of capacity crowds at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in recent years.
Since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2004, 21 of 35 home games have drawn a crowd of at least 10,000, including each of the last eight. A Jackrabbit-record 16,345 fans attended the SDSU-North Dakota State matchup on Nov. 17, 2007, a game the Jackrabbits won to claim the Great West Football Conference title.
During the 2009 season, SDSU ranked 17th among FCS programs with an average home attendance of 13,265 fans per home game. Overall, home attendance since the start of the 2004 season has been 358,080 — an average of 10,231 fans per game.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four senior captains:
• Cole Brodie, defensive back, Dacula, Ga.;
• Conrad Kjerstad, defensive back, Wall;
• Ryan McKnight, offensive lineman, Sioux Falls;
• Kyle Minett, running back, Ruthton, Minn.
RABBITS RANKED: For the fourth year in a row, South Dakota State appeared in the preseason national rankings for the Football Championship Subdivision, checking in at No. 9 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com media poll and 10th in the FCS Coaches’ poll.
Following back-to-back losses to start the season, the Jackrabbits fell out of the top 25, but remain among the teams receiving votes in the Sports Network poll.
The Jackrabbits began the 2009 season ranked 22nd in the Sports Network poll and 23rd in the preseason poll conducted by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches. SDSU climbed to as high as ninth in the national rankings before finishing the season 11th in both the media and coaches’ polls.
In 2008, SDSU opened the season 19th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches’ poll. When opening the 2007 season, the rankings were reversed as SDSU was 19th in the coaches’ poll and 20th in the Sports Network rankings.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: 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 first six-plus seasons at the FCS level, SDSU has played 33 games against ranked FCS opponents and compiled an 11-22 overall record.
WORKING OVERTIME: Since overtime rules were implemented in college football in 1996, the Jackrabbits have played five overtime games. SDSU won its first-ever overtime contest, a 30-27, double-overtime decision on Hobo Day against Nebraska-Omaha, but has lost its last four extended games.
SCOUTING MISSOURI STATE: Missouri State will attempt to remain in the thick of the Missouri Valley Football Conference race as it travels to South Dakota State.
The Bears, 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the MVFC, are only a couple plays away from leading the nine-team league. Both of MSU’s league losses have come on the road in overtime — a 44-41 setback at Illinois State on Sept. 25 and a 38-35 defeat at the hands of Indiana State on Oct. 16. The Bears are still in search of their first road victory of the season as they are 4-0 at Plaster Field, but 0-4 when the visiting team.
The Missouri State offense has been prolific this season, rolling up an average of 38.4 points and 459.1 yards of total offense per game. The offensive output has been nearly equal as the Bears are averaging 231.4 yards passing per game and 227.8 yards per contest on the ground.
Senior quarterback Cody Kirby is coming off a career day last week against Southern Illinois, when he threw for a career-high 348 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-41 shootout victory.
For the season, Kirby has completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Kirby also leads the team with 12 rushing touchdowns and ranks third on the squad with 355 rushing yards.
Chris Douglas leads the Bears with 783 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns. Douglas has touchdown runs of 97 and 86 yards to his credit this season. Stephen Johnston has been a solid complement at running back, gaining 617 yards with four touchdowns.
MSU’s offensive line is anchored by all-MVFC performer and preseason All-America tackle David Arkin.
The top receiver for the Bears this season has been Jermaine Saffold, who has caught 42 passes for 798 yards — an average of 19 yards per catch — with five touchdowns. Cadarrius Dotson has added 30 receptions for 377 yards and a score.
Despite returning nine starters from a year ago, the Missouri State defense has had its share of struggles in 2010. The Bears rank last in the MVFC for both pass defense (331.8 yards per game) and total defense (501.2).
One of 20 players on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, linebacker Antoine Wilkinson leads the Bears with 68 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss and four sacks. As a team, the Bears has recorded 21 quarterback sacks.
Strong safety Skylar Smith leads the secondary with 66 tackles and has an interception and five pass breakups to his credit. Jimmie Strong leads the team with four interceptions, while free saftey Derek Miller has intercepted two passes and notched 27 tackles.
Reigning MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week Austin Witmer is a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts this season, after taking over for Jordan Chiles. Chiles continues to handle the punting duties, averaging 37.7 yards per attempt and forcing 13 fair catches out of 41 punts.
Brian Berry is averaging 24.7 yards per kickoff return, while Justin Fuselier has an
average of 7.5 yards per punt return.
LAST MEETING: General Parnell intercepted two passes, including one in the end zone with under a minute to play, as South Dakota State held off a Missouri State comeback attempt, 24-17, Oct. 10, 2009, in Missouri Valley Football Conference action at Springfield, Mo.
The 19th-ranked Jackrabbits improved to 4-1 overall and stayed perfect in league play with a 3-0 mark. Missouri State dropped to 3-3 overall, 1-2 in the MVFC. The game was played before a crowd of 10,592 at Plaster Field.
Missouri State put together the first scoring drive of the game, moving the ball 58 yards on 10 plays on its first possession before Matt Hottelman nailed a 49-yard field goal.
The Jackrabbits came back to take a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns two minutes and 18 seconds apart. Kyle Minett capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for the first Jackrabbit score. SDSU’s Dirk Kool then recovered a short kickoff to set up the Jackrabbits at the MSU 32. Five plays later, on third-and-16, redshirt freshman quarterback Thomas O’Brien found Saunders Montague behind the Bear defense for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Bears scored first touchdown of the day with a methodical 19-play, 72-yard drive that chewed up more than seven and a half minutes. After converting twice on short fourth down plays, Miguel Warren found the end zone from six yards out.
SDSU tacked on an 18-yard field goal by Peter Reifenrath late in the second quarter to take a 17-10 halftime lead. The Jackrabbits, who had a long touchdown run by Minett called back earlier in the drive by a holding penalty, opted for the field goal rather than going for it on fourth-and-1.
The Jackrabbits were able to establish more of a running game in the second half. Minett gained 35 yards on a third-quarter drive before O’Brien hit Glen Fox on a slant for a 19-yard touchdown pass that put the Jackrabbits up 24-10 with 2:31 to play in the third quarter.
SDSU failed to score on two possessions in Missouri State territory early in the fourth quarter, while the Bears started to find their stride offensively. MSU put together another long drive, finishing off a 16-play, 80-yard drive as Jared Emery made a lunging catch on a 5-yard pass play from Cody Kirby with 6:02 remaining to pull to within a score at 24-17.
After holding the Jackrabbits three plays and out, MSU took over at its own 18 with under four minutes remaining. The Bears converted on fourth-and-four and again on third-and-14 before two long pass plays to Jermaine Saffold put the Bears at the SDSU 31. Two more completions set up the Bears first and goal at the SDSU 6, but Parnell stepped in front of a Kirby pass in the right corner of the end zone and returned the ball 63 yards to the MSU 37, sealing the Jackrabbit victory.
O’Brien, making his first career start, completed 14-of-21 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Fox led the receiving corps with seven catches for 87 yards, while Minett gained 105 yards on 26 carries.
For MSU, Kirby completed 29-of-46 attempts for 288 yards, and also led the Bears with 59 yards rushing on 14 carries. All three of Kirby’s interceptions came in the second half. Emery tallied seven catches for 67 yards, while All-America tight end Clay Harbor added six receptions for 53 yards.
Defensively, Derek Domino led the Jackrabbits with 12 tackles. Chris Johnson and Danny Batten each recorded eight stops. Derek Miller posted a game-high 13 tackles for the Bears, with Antoine Wilkinson and Skylar Smith each adding 12.
The Bears held a 404-344 advantage in total offense and ran 19 more plays, 78-59, than the Jackrabbits.
LAST WEEK: Darrius Gates scored a school-record five touchdowns to lead Indiana State to a 41-30 victory over South Dakota State in Missouri Valley Football Conference action Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Sycamores improved to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in league play, remaining undefeated at home. SDSU, which saw its three-game winning streak end, dropped to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the MVFC.
Indiana State moved the ball at will in the first 20 minutes of the game, scoring on each of their first three drives. The Sycamores took the opening kickoff and drove 89 yards on 12 plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Darrius Gates.
Gates added another 4-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, but ISU missed the extra point to keep the score at 13-0. ISU’s second scoring drive covered 86 yards in only seven plays.
The Jackrabbits got on the board on the opening snap of the second quarter as Peter Reifenrath connected on a 30-yard field goal.
ISU extended the lead to 20-3 on Gates’ third touchdown of the game, a 16-yard pass from Ronnie Fouch in the far left corner of the end zone with 13 minutes and 24 seconds to play in the second quarter.
SDSU countered with touchdowns on back-to-back drives. Kyle Minett finished off a five-play, 54-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run and Colin Cochart hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Thomas O’Brien with 1:05 to play in the first half. Taking over at its own 46 after recovering a bad exchange, SDSU converted four third-down attempts on its second touchdown drive to pull to within 20-17.
After recovering another fumble on a bad exchange, the Jackrabbits took over at the ISU 24 with 40 seconds left. SDSU moved the ball to the Sycamore 17, but couldn't capitalize as O’Brien’s pass was tipped at the goal line and intercepted.
Gates found the end zone for a fourth time on the Sycamores’ first drive of the second half, scoring on a 14-yard screen pass from Fouch. Gates’ school-record 14th touchdown season capped another long ISU drive, which covered 86 yards on five plays. A 63-yard pass from Fouch to Justin Hilton set up the score.
The Sycamores forced another turnover on the next Jackrabbit possession as O'Brien sacked and fumbled, giving ISU the ball at the Jackrabbit 34. Five plays later, Ben Obaseki — normally a defensive lineman — scored on a 1-yard run that gave the Sycamores a 34-17 lead with 8:44 to play in the third quarter.
SDSU came back with a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive as Minett scored from two yards out with 4:45 to play in the third.
Gates’ fifth touchdown of the day, an 11-yard run early in the fourth quarter, gave Indiana State a 41-24 lead. His record-setting touchdown came after gaining 19 yards on third-and-11 on the previous play.
Just over a minute later, Minett tied a career high with his third touchdown of the day, a 1-yard run on a drive in which he became the first SDSU running back in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. A Walter Payton Award candidate, Minett also crossed the 4,000-yard mark in career rushing during the day.
Minett finished the game with 149 yards on 29 carries. O'Brien finished the game 20-of-41 passing for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Tyrel Kool led the receiving corps with seven catches for 54 yards.
Indiana State ended the day with an even 500 yards of total offense, compared to 339 by the Jackrabbits. Gates totaled 197 all-purpose yards, gaining 143 yards on 23 carries and catching three balls for 39 yards. Bryant Kent led the Sycamores with six catches for 103 yards, while Fouch was an efficient 17-of-24 passing for 284 yards and two scores.
Corey Jeske led the Jackrabbit defense with 14 tackles, with Mike Lien and Anthony Wise adding 11 and 10 stops, respectively. For Indiana State, Larry Carter was the top tackler with 12 stops. Calvin Burnett added 10 tackles, an interception and broke up five passes.
MINETT ON PAYTON LIST: South Dakota State University running back Kyle Minett remains one of 20 players on the official watch list for the 2010 Walter Payton Award, which is awarded to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A native of Ruthton, Minn., Minett is currently ranked second among active FCS backs with 4,091 career rushing yards — a total that also ranks second on the SDSU career charts. In addition, Minett stands second in career rushing touchdowns among active FCS players with 44, second in total touchdowns with 51 and fourth in total points with 310 (51 TDs, 2 two-point conversions).
A two-time second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, Minett became the first player in SDSU football history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. After tallying 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008 and 1,304 yards and 16 TDs last season, Minett enters Saturday’s matchup against Missouri State with 1,022 yards and nine touchdowns so far in 2010. He currently ranks sixth in FCS rushing this season with an average of 127.8 yards per game.
In addition, Minett has 102 career receptions for 880 yards and seven scores.
Minett, who was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team in 2009, is the first SDSU football player to be nominated for the Walter Payton Award, which is sponsored by Fathead.com and presented by The Sports Network. The Walter Payton Award watch list will again be updated on Oct. 25, with ballots sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation Jan. 6 — the night before the FCS national championship game — in Frisco, Texas.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Three seniors on the South Dakota State University football team have been named to preseason All-America teams.
Center Ryan McKnight was named to the first team of preseason All-America squads selected by The Sports Network and College Sporting News. The 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior from Sioux Falls, was a first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in 2009 after starting all 12 games for the Jackrabbits’ playoff-qualifying squad and was an integral part of an offense that averaged 27.8 points and 341.2 yards of offense per game.
Linebacker Derek Domino earned second-team recognition on the CSN squad. A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino also earned first-team all-MVFC recognition in 2009 after leading the squad with 100 tackles and sharing the team lead with five interceptions. Domino returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns.
Running back Kyle Minett was tabbed as a third-team selection by both The Sports Network and College Sporting News. In 2009, Minett was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team.
O-LINE SHAKEUP: The Jackrabbits shifted a couple players around on the offensive line in the Sept. 25 game against Nebraska — a move that produced some positive results.
Starting center Ryan McKnight moved to left guard in place of Jacob Ludemann and sophomore Will Castle made his first career start as he took over the center duties. The changes contributed to the Jackrabbits rushing for a season-high 141 yards, a total that was surpassed with 155 yards the following week at Northern Iowa.
McKnight shifted back to center in the Oct. 9 game against Western Illinois, with redshirt Alex Parker earning his first career start at left guard. SDSU has increased its rushing output six consecutive weeks before a slight dropoff last week at Indiana State.
In addition, SDSU did not allowed a sack in 11 consecutive halves before allowing a sack in the third quarter at Indiana State, a streak that covered more than 150 pass attempts. For the season, the Jackrabbits have given up only four sacks.
OH, DOMINO: Senior linebacker Derek Domino has picked up where he left off a season ago, when he emerged as the team’s top tackler.
A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino has tallied a team-high 76 tackles so far this season, including a career-high 16 stops Sept. 25 at Nebraska. Domino had his string of five consecutive games with double digits for tackles, dating back to the 2009 season, end in the Oct. 9 game against Western Illinois, when he notched seven stops. In 2009, Domino led the team with 100 tackles as he registered 12 tackles in a game three times, including SDSU’s playoff game at Montana.
In addition, Domino upped his career interception total to nine in the game at Nebraska. Last season, Domino shared the team lead with five interceptions, including one he returned for a 22-yard touchdown at Minnesota. He also picked off two passes Oct. 17 against North Dakota State, returning his first interception of the game 16 yards for a touchdown.
During the 2008 campaign, Domino returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown in the Hobo Day game against McNeese State (La.). His three career interception returns for touchdowns are tied for the most among all active FCS players.
REIFENRATH RETURNS: Senior kicker Peter Reifenrath was honored as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in the Jackrabbits' 30-20 Hobo Day victory over Youngstown State (Ohio) on Oct. 23.
A senior from Decorah, Iowa, Reifenrath was 3-for-4 on field goals and made all three extra-point attempts as the Jackrabbits won their third consecutive league game. His first made field goal of the day was a career-best 43-yarder, followed by field goals of 42 and 25 yards.
Reifenrath upped his career field goal total to 30 in the Indiana State game, and this season has passed Adam Vinatieri (27 field goals from 1991-94) for third place on the SDSU career charts.
Reifenrath made his season debut in the Oct. 16 game at Southern Illinois and responded by making all five kicks he attempted. A Decorah, Iowa native, he entered the game in the second quarter in place of Kyle Harris, who missed a 33-yard field goal attempt on the Jackrabbits’ opening possession of the game. Reifenrath made all four point-after attempts and added a 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
In 2008, Reifenrath earned second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors after making 16-of-22 field goal attempts. He shared placekicking duties with Harris last season, going 9-of-12 with a long of 34.
PRIDDY PUNTING: Jackrabbit punter Dean Priddy put together a strong performance in the opening game of the season at Delaware. A senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., Priddy punted four times for an average of 55 yards, with a net punting average of 53.2 yards. His punts traveled 44, 72, 53 and 51 yards, with the 72-yarder a career long that pinned Delaware inside its own 5-yard line late in the first half.
For his efforts, Priddy received co-Punter of the Week recognition from College Football Performance Awards, sharing the honor with Mike Hammonds of Chattanooga (Tenn.).
In 32 attempts this season, Priddy ranks 18th among FCS punters with an average of 41.7 yards per punt and has landed 12 attempts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Combined with outstanding coverage downfield, Priddy’s punting has shut down the opposing return game as his net punting average is 38.89 yards — fifth in the FCS ranks — with the opponents tallying a mere 46 yards on 14 returns (3.3-yard average).
O’BRIEN UNDER CENTER: Sophomore quarterback crossed the 2,500-yard mark for his career in the Oct. 16 victory at Southern Illinois. In 14 career starts, O’Brien has compiled a 7-7 record, including a perfect 6-0 mark in starts in which he has not thrown an interception.
O’Brien started six games during the 2009 season, including the Jackrabbits’ FCS playoff game at Montana, and compiled a 4-2 record.
KOOL CATCHING ON: Sophomore Tyrel Kool has made a seamless transition to wide receiver during the 2010 season.
A converted running back, Kool caught a game-high nine passes for 107 yards in a
losing effort in the season opener at Delaware, including a leaping 44-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He became the first Jackrabbit receiver this season to total double figures in receptions, hauling in 10 for 113 yards with his first career touchdown Oct. 2 at Northern Iowa.
Kool continues to lead the team with 46 receptions and 507 receiving yards, heading into Saturday’s game.
The Yankton native third on the team in rushing in 2009 with 96 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught one pass for seven yards during his freshman season.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner and a program on the rise in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to an 86-65 record (.570 winning percentage). SDSU has posted eight consecutive winning seasons, including the school’s first six campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 11 of Stiegelmeier’s 13 years as head coach, including six with seven or more victories.
The 2009 season proved to be a memorable one as Stiegelmeier led the Jackrabbits to their first FCS playoff appearance and the program’s first postseason appearance in 30 years. The Jackrabbits finished as runner-up in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 7-1 record and finished the season 8-4 overall. SDSU led for much of its playoff game at top-seeded Montana, before falling 61-48 to the eventual national runner-up Grizzlies. Nationally ranked for the entire season, including appearing in the top 10 for two weeks, the Jackrabbits finished the 2009 campaign ranked 11th in both the FCS Coaches' and Sports Network media polls.
Stiegelmeier, 53, is the 20th head coach for the Jackrabbits. His tenure of 13-plus years as head coach is the second-longest head coaching stint in school history.
THE JACKRABBIT JOURNEY: Former South Dakota State University football player Casey Hillman successfully completed “The Jackrabbit Journey,” a walk across South Dakota to raise money and awareness for the Jackrabbit Athletic Endowment.
A Sioux Falls resident, Hillman began his journey through the Rushmore State in Deadwood on Sept. 4. During his journey logged more than 400 miles on foot before ending his journey Sept. 18 by walking into Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and presenting the game ball for the opening kickoff of the Jackrabbit football team’s home opener against Illinois State.
Hillman lettered as a cornerback for the Jackrabbits from 1998-2001. He was a second-team all-North Central Conference selection in 1999, when he led the team with six interceptions.
Donations are still being accepted online through the SDSU Foundation, or by calling (605) 688-6942. Funds should be designated for Athletics/Jackrabbit Club with “The Jackrabbit Journey” included in the comments section.
ACADEMIC SUCCESS: The SDSU football team will be recognized during Saturday’s game for its academic pursuits during the 2009 season, which included leading the Missouri Valley Football Conference in team grade-point average for the second straight year.
The All-Academic Award was established in 2004 to help bring attention to institutional academic excellence. It is based on the average student-athlete grade-point average for the academic year. The GPA calculations are calculated for all student-athletes in the MVFC who compete, practice or receive athletic aid during the academic year. The award for South Dakota state is based on accomplishments during the 2008-09 academic year.
Last season, a total of 10 Jackrabbit football student-athletes were selected to the league’s All-Academic Team, including first-team picks Tyler Duffy, Conrad Kjerstad and Kyle Minett. Duffy, Casey Knips and Dean Priddy were the three South Dakota State student-athletes to receive the league’s President's Academic Excellence Award. Kjerstad was an FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star, while Minett and Kjerstad earned ESPN Academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
NEXT WEEK: The Jackrabbits close out Missouri Valley Football Conference play by traveling to Fargo, N.D., to play North Dakota State in the annual battle for the Dakota Marker.
Kickoff is slated for 3:05 p.m. at the Fargodome. The game is scheduled to be televised as the MVFC Game of the Week, with live coverage on Fox Sports North, Fox College Sports Central and Comcast Chicago. A tape-delayed broadcast is scheduled to air at 3 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 14) on Fox Sports Midwest.