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SDSU Playoff Game Has Smaller Turnout



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The South Dakota State University Jackrabbits had a lot to be thankful for Thanksgiving weekend. The team took on the Eastern Illinois Panthers in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

This isn’t the first time the Jackrabbits have been in the playoffs but it is the first time a playoff game has been held at Coughlin Alumni Stadium at SDSU. And that is what made Saturdays game so special for students, alumni and fans.
 
There were 10,000 fans expected to be at SDSU’s first ever playoff game at home.

Although it is hard to believe there were that many in the stands on Saturday, the holiday weekend, and freezing temperatures may have had a part.

“It’s a little chilly out there, but we do it to support those Jacks,” said Kyle Heronimus, a graduate of SDSU.

But nothing could stop Kyle Heronimus from supporting the blue and gold. He graduated in 2012 and said after years of not being able to watch his team play in Brookings; the game is like a late graduation gift.

" To have a game like this in Brookings really means a lot, said Kyle Heronimus.

Jerry Harris and his family drove from St. Louis, Mo. to attend the game. His son Kyle is a former kicker for the Jackrabbits and now is a coach for the team. Harris said after filling up on turkey and stuffing, they hit the road.

"Our main concern was getting up here to see the Jacks play this playoff game. So we left Thursday evening at 5:30,” said Jerry Harris, the father of a former player.

Despite the cold weather, Harris said he was excited for the game. And he also had one thing to say to the Panthers.

"Welcome to South Dakota,” said Harris.

And for the parents of the players, they said not having their sons’ home for a Thanksgiving dinner was a sacrifice they were proud to make.

"It was a good and bad type of thing,” said Jay Parker, father of a player.

“It was defiantly different not having our family together for Thanksgiving but it was something that’s really exciting and it’s a great sacrifice. It's something we are thankful for,” said Amy Sumner, mother of a player.

But despite all the practice the team has had throughout the season, fans said the biggest advantage the team had against Eastern Illinois, was simply being at home.

"Its South Dakota, so hopefully that gives us the advantage to win the game,” said Jay Parker.

There were nearly 4,400 people at Saturday’s game, nothing compared to the prior weekends game between SDSU and USD. At that game there was more than 15,000 fans that packed the stands.

 
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