Jackrabbits move on to Western Illinois
The South Dakota State University football team will attempt to return to its winning ways Saturday as it travels to Western Illinois for a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill. The game is scheduled to be televised across Mediacom cable systems, as well as on Sioux Falls-based KOZI-TV.
The nationally ranked Jackrabbits will look to end a three-game losing slide, entering the week with a 3-3 overall record and 0-2 mark in the MVFC.
Western Illinois, meanwhile, is also 3-3 overall under first-year coach Bob Nielson. The Fighting Leathernecks have posted a 1-1 record in league play thus far, recording a 24-10 home win over South Dakota on Sept. 28, followed by a 35-21 loss at Illinois State last week. WIU is receiving a handful of votes in this week’s Sports Network media poll.
FOUR-DOWN TERRITORY: Four quick notes on the Jackrabbits:
• The Jackrabbits have not lost three consecutive MVFC games since joining the league in 2008;
• SDSU is plus-11 in turnover margin this season, forcing six lost fumbles and intercepting 11 passes;
• The Jackrabbits’ 11 interceptions have come from nine different players — Andrew Brown and Dallas Brown (no relation) each have two to lead the squad;
• Junior quarterback Austin Sumner enters Saturday’s game as the SDSU career passing with 6,165 yards and, with 493 career completions, is 21 away from tying Ryan Berry’s career mark of 514 set from 2005-08.
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the 11th meeting between South Dakota State and Western Illinois, a series that began with a 28-21 Fighting Leatherneck victory in 1976.
On the strength of their current five-game winning streak, the Jackrabbits lead the all-time series, 6-4. SDSU has won all five meetings between the two programs as members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
WIU’s last victory in the series was a 29-26, four-overtime win in the 2007 season opener in Macomb. The game stands as the longest in SDSU football history.
Previous results include:
• Sept. 11, 1976: Western Illinois 28, South Dakota State 21 (at Brookings)
• Sept. 10, 1977: SDSU 23, Western Illinois 6 (at Macomb, Ill.)
• Sept. 13, 1980: Western Illinois 33, SDSU 27 (at Brookings)
• Sept. 12 1981: Western Illinois 17, SDSU 13 (at Macomb, Ill.)
• Aug. 30, 2007: Western Illinois 29, SDSU 26 [4 OT] (at Macomb, Ill.)
• Sept. 13, 2008: SDSU 24, Western Illinois 22 (at Brookings)
• Nov. 21, 2009: SDSU 27, Western Illinois 7 (at Macomb, Ill.)
• Oct. 9, 2010: SDSU 33, Western Illinois 29 (at Brookings)
• Nov. 12, 2011: SDSU 27, Western Illinois 7 (at Macomb, Ill.)
• Oct. 13, 2012: SDSU 31, Western Illinois 10 (at Brookings)
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video 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 2 p.m. 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
• KJOE 106.1 FM-Pipestone, Minn.
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KDSJ 980 AM-Deadwood
• 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 their three-game losing streak, the Jackrabbits remain in both national polls this week. SDSU dropped six spots to 13th in the Sports Network poll and fell nine spots to 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.
VALLEY PREVIEW: South Dakota State was picked to finish second in the 2013 Missouri Valley Football Conference race, according to a preseason poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors that was released in late July.
The Jackrabbits, who placed second in the league last season with a 6-2 record en route to a 9-4 overall mark and berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, tallied 323 points in the poll. Defending league champion and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State was a unanimous first-place selection, garnering all 39 first-place votes for 390 points. Northern Iowa (269), Illinois State (264) and Youngstown State (253) rounded out the upper half of the 10-team league.
Completing the poll were Indiana State (197), Southern Illinois (188), Missouri State (123), Western Illinois (77) and South Dakota (61).
Although the voters all agreed that NDSU is their top choice, there was a wide variance for the league's other nine teams, as seven teams were picked to finish in five or more different positions.
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 15 times (in 27 previous polls). North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season.
In addition, four Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team.
Headlining South Dakota State's four selections to the preseason all-league team were returning first-team honorees Bryan Witzmann and Zach Zenner. A senior offensive tackle, Witzmann has started all 35 of the Jackrabbits’ games over the last three seasons. Zenner, meanwhile, set a league single-season record for rushing yards during the 2012 season, totaling an FCS-best 2,044 yards in 13 games.
Joining Witzmann and Zenner on the preseason team were defensive end Doug Peete and linebacker T.J. Lally, who both were second-team all-MVFC selections a year ago. Peete led the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss and shared the team lead with six sacks a season ago. Lally put together a strong redshirt freshman season in 2012, ranking second on the team with 107 tackles and also sharing the team lead with six sacks.
North Dakota State led with 10 selection to the MVFC Preseason Team, including returning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Williams. Northern Iowa was second with six honorees, followed by SDSU and Illinois State.
SCOUTING WESTERN ILLINOIS: Western Illinois has begun the rebuilding process under first-year head coach Bob Nielson.
At 3-3 so far in 2013, the Fighting Leathernecks have already equaled their win total from a season ago despite playing a pair of Bowl Championship Subdivision teams in the first four weeks.
WIU has featured a balanced offensive attack so far this season, with less than 100 yards separating its rushing and passing totals. QuarterbackTrenton Norvell, who earlier this week was named to the official watch list for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, has thrown for 906 yards and nine touchdowns.
Lance Lenoir has been the top receiving target, catching 20 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Joey Borsellino also has caught three touchdowns among his 14 receptions, while Hi-C Scott has added 15 receptions for 205 yards and one score.
The Fighting Leathernecks have a 1-2 punch in the backfield with J.C. Baker and Nikko Watson. Baker leads the team with 501 yards and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, while Watson has gained 374 yards and scored a team-best three touchdowns on the ground.
The WIU defense has been among the best in the nation as far as forcing turnovers, recording 14 takeaways — seven fumbles and seven interceptions —thus far. Jonathon Rollins is the lone Fighting Leatherneck player with more than one interception and also ranks fourth in tackles with 35. Sophomore linebacker J.J. Raffelson leads the squad with 43 tackles.
Antoine Ford has been a threat in the return game for WIU, averaging 11.3 yards per punt return.
The Fighting Leathernecks have struggled at times in the kicking game as they have made only 1-of-4 field goal tries and missed three extra points through the halfway mark of the regular season.
SUMNER SETS RECORDS: Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner broke Jackrabbit records for career passing yards and attempts last week and is poised to set another SDSU standard.
A junior, Sumner has vaulted in the top spot for career passing yards with 6,165 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). Sumner began the season in eighth place for career passing yards and has totaled 1,340 yards through the first sixt games this season.
His 851 career pass attempts have surpassed the previous record of 834 set by Berry.
Sumner has played in 29 career games and made 26 starts, holding a 16-10 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.
With 493 completions heading into Saturday’s game at Western Illinois, Sumner also is nearing Berry’s career mark of 514.
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 third in the Football Championship Subdivision with 858 total yards, while his average of 143 yards per game ranks fifth. His 12 rushing touchdowns rank second among FCS players and his 13 total touchdowns (1 receiving) put him in fifth place for scoring with an average of 13 points per game. Zenner also ranks sixth in all-purpose yards with an average of 173.2 yards per game as he has added 12 receptions for 181 yards.
He has topped the 100-yard mark in five games this season, including tying his own school record with 295 yards — on a career-high 37 carries — Sept. 7 at North Dakota. 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 14 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 3,372 yards.
Zenner, who scored on a 75-yard run Sept. 14 against Southeastern Louisiana and tallied a 40-yard touchdown a week later at Nebraska, 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 18.6 yards on his 12 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. He comes into Saturday’s game with a team-best 57 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 29-for-39 (74.4 percent) for his career. He also is 76-of-77 on career PATs and is working on a streak of 35 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 four of the Jackrabbits’ six games this season. For the year, Schneider leads the team with 33 receptions for 453 yards and three touchdowns. He is tied for the Missouri Valley Football Conference lead in receptions (5.5 per game) and ranks second in receiving yards (75.5 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 114 career receptions for 1,490 yards. He stands five catches and 210 receiving yards outside the top 10 and 210.
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 28 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 105-79 record (.571 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 61-45 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 27-15 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs twice (2009, 2012) under Stiegelmeier’s guidance.
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 will continue road action, playing Oct. 19 at Missouri State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Plaster Field in Springfield, Mo., with the game scheduled to be televised on Mediacom.
SDSU’s next home game is Oct. 26, when the Jackrabbits will battle Northern Iowa in the annual Hall of Fame Game. 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 Oct. 26 Hall of Fame game is set for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. Military Appreciation Day also will be observed on Oct. 26.