WILD WIN! SDSU Edges Villanova In FCS 2nd Round

Jackrabbits Advance To Quarterfinals For First Time With 10-7 Win

Chase Vinatieri kicked the game-winning 40-yard field goal with 1 minute and 21 seconds remaining in the game to lift eighth-seeded South Dakota State to a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Villanova in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

The Jackrabbits improved to 9-3 overall and will face top-seeded North Dakota State in quarterfinal action at 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at the Fargodome.The game will be televised by ESPN.

Villanova ended its season with a 9-4 mark.

Each team put together a long scoring drive in the first half, with SDSU breaking into the scoring column first with a nine-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. Sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion, who completed his first nine pass attempts, connected with fellow Walter Payton Award finalists Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke on back-to-back pass plays of 26 and 23 yards to move the ball to the Wildcat 17. Three plays later, Christion hit Goedert on the fade in the left corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass.

SDSU squandered a scoring opportunity early in the second quarter after taking over on downs at the Villanova 44 after stopping the Wildcats short on fourth-and-1. The Jackrabbits picked up one first down, but Christion was sacked on third down to put SDSU out of field goal range.

Villanova’s scoring drive came in the closing moments of the second quarter as the Wildcats marched 80 yards on 15 plays, chewing up more than six and a half minutes. After first considering a field goal attempt with under 10 seconds to play in the half, Villanova opted instead to run another offensive play which paid off as Zach Bednarczyk hit Alex Padovani for a 6-yard touchdown with two seconds remaining.

The defensive struggle continued in the second half as the two teams combined for nine punts before the Jackrabbits strung together the game-winning drive. Following an 11-yard punt return by Marquise Lewis to their own 40, the Jackrabbits began the drive with 3:28 to play. On second down, Christion moved out of the pocket and hit Goedert for a 33-yard catch and run to the Villanova 26. A 3-yard run by Brady Mengarelli and two incomplete passes left the ball at the 23 to set up Vinatieri’s heroics. With a brisk breeze in his face, Vinatieri’s kick grazed the inside of the right upright, but managed to sneak through.

Cole Langer put Villanova in a hole on the ensuing drive by recording an 8-yard sack on the Wildcats’ first play. A 10-yard completion was followed by a pair of incomplete passes to turn the ball back over to the Jackrabbits and seal their fourth playoff victory in the last five years.

Langer’s sack was one of three on the afternoon for a swarming Jackrabbit defense, which tallied four other tackles for loss.

Villanova held a 321-197 advantage in total offense, along with a 34:27 to 25:33 edge in time of possession. Bednarczyk completed 20-of-36 passes for 220 yards, while Matt Gudzak caught four passes for 43 yards and gained a game-high 66 yards rushing on 17 carries. Ryan Bell (55 yards) and Padovani (29 yards) also hauled in four receptions.

Christion ended the afternoon 20-of-33 for 190 yards, with Goedert on the receiving end of eight balls for 92 yards. Goedert ended the day with a Jackrabbit single-season record of 86 receptions, breaking the previous mark of 78 by Jason Schneider in 2013.

Mengarelli gained 31 yards on seven carries and added five receptions for 27 yards for the Jackrabbits.

Christian Rozeboom paced the Jackrabbit defense with 13 tackles, followed by 10 from Jesse Bobbit. Ed Shockley led Villanova with 10 stops.

NOTES
* SDSU improved to 4-5 in FCS playoff games in making its fifth consecutive postseason appearance and sixth overall
* Christion tied the SDSU single-season record for touchdown passes with 30, matching the mark first set by Ryan Berry in 2008
* Jake Wieneke was limited to three receptions for 37 yards
* Villanova ran 72 offensive plays to SDSU’s 53
* SDSU was flagged for only one penalty for five yards, while Villanova committed five penalties for 35 yar