Jacks blitz Bears, 31-10
BROOKINGS, S.D. - The South Dakota State University football team kept its hopes for a ninth consecutive winning season alive with a convincing 31-10 victory over Missouri State Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits improved to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Missouri State dropped to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.
After holding SDSU to a three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, the Bears scored on their first possession. Stephen Johnston ran for a pair of first downs before the drive stalled and Austin Witmer connected on a 42-yard field goal.
The Jackrabbits found the end zone midway through the first quarter. Cole Brodie set SDSU up at midfield with a 20-yard punt return. Quarterback Thomas O'Brien completed a pair of third-down passes - one to Brandon Hubert for 25 yards and another to backup running back Tyler Duffy, who made an acrobatic catch on the sideline to give SDSU first and goal. Duffy capped the nine play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. A bobbled snap on the extra-point attempt, kept the score at 6-3.
SDSU extended its lead to 13-3 early in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Minett, who scored for the fifth consecutive game. The nine-play, 65-yard drive featured a 25-yard reception by Minett that moved the ball into Missouri State territory.
MSU took advantage of a Jackrabbit turnover in the red zone, marching 87 yards on 10 plays to pull to within 13-10 late in the half. Chris Douglas finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
O'Brien led the Jackrabbits on another scoring drive late in the first half. The sophomore quarterback completed all four passes he attempted for 35 yards on the drive that ended with a career-long 47-yard field goal by Peter Reifenrath with 1:31 remaining.
The Bears appeared on the verge of scoring in the final seconds of the half, but Cody Kirby's pass was tipped by Derek Domino and intercepted at the Jackrabbit 10 by linebacker Mike Lien.
The Jackrabbit defense stood firm in the second half, shutting out a Missouri State offense that came into the game averaging 38.4 points and 459 yards of offense per game. The Bears converted only 4-of-15 third-down attempts and were 0-for-4 on fourth down.
SDSU put the game out of reach midway through the third quarter as O'Brien hooked up with Trevor Tiefenthaler on a 4-yard touchdown pass and then found tight end Alex Beyer for the two-point conversion to make the score 24-10.
Brodie closed out the scoring with a 55-yard interception return for touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was Brodie's pick-six of the season and team-leading fourth interception.
O'Brien finished the game 20-of-30 passing for 204 yards. Tyrel Kool led the receiving corps with six catches for 64 yards, while Minett added five receptions for 32 yards. A Walter Payton Award candidate as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, Minett churned out his eighth consecutive 100-yard game with 111 yards on 29 carries. Duffy gained 39 yards on 14 carries.
SDSU held a 347-318 advantage in total offense.
For Missouri State, Kirby ended the day 15-of-37 passing for 167 yards and two interceptions. Cadarrius Dotson was the top receiver with four catches for 63 yards. Johnston led the ground game with 65 yards on 13 carries, with Douglas adding 54 yards on eight carries.
Dirk Kool led the Jackrabbit defense with nine tackles, followed by Lien with eight stops and Brian Fischer with seven. Adam Beauchamp posted a game-high 18 tackles for Missouri State, with Antoine Wilkinson adding 12.
SDSU travels to North Dakota State for the annual battle for the Dakota Marker on Nov. 13. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Fargodome. Missouri State travels to Northern Iowa.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series, 3-0 ... the Jackrabbits improved to 17-6 in Missouri Valley Football Conference games since joining the league in 2008, including 10-2 at home ... Minett tallied his 22nd career 100-yard game, including his third against Missouri State ... Minett moved into 10th place on the single-season rushing charts with 1,133 and upped his career rushing to a second-place total of 4,202 ... Minett now owns the sixth- (1,304 yards in 2009), seventh- (1,289 yards in 2008) and 10th best (1,133 yards in 2010) single-season rushing totals in school history ... the last SDSU running back to rush for 1,000 yards in eight consecutive games was Josh Ranek in the final two games of the 1998 season and first six games of 1999 ... Tyrel Kool moved into a tie with Brian Janecek (2004) for ninth place on the SDSU single-season receptions list with 52 ... the Jackrabbit defense matched its season low of 10 points allowed, first accomplished Oct. 16 at Southern Illinois ... Reifenrath's previous long field goal was 43 yards two weeks ago against Youngstown State ... attendance was a season-low 7,724, breaking a streak of eight consecutive home games with crowds of 10,000 or more