Jackrabbits blank UND to close season
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 football season finale Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits 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 senior Cole Brodie 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.
NOTES: UND leads the all-time series, 45-34-5 ... Saturday's game marked the first meeting between the longtime North Central Conference rivals since 2003 ... SDSU ended up outscoring its opponents 234-232 for the season ... the shutout was the first since a 41-0 home defeat of Indiana State on Sept. 19, 2009 ... SDSU's last shutout of UND came in the 1993 season finale (28-0) at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium ... O'Brien moved into ninth on the Jackrabbit single-season passing chart with 2,236 yards ... Tyrel Kool ended the season fourth in single-season receptions with 64 and also posted his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season ... Domino notched his second consecutive 100-tackle season, finishing with a team-best 103 stops ... Domino also recorded his sixth double-digit tackling performance of the season and 11th time in his career ... Reifenrath finished his career third in career field goals at SDSU with 34 ... attendance was 3,918, giving SDSU an average of 10,023 for the season