South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion rushed for two second-half touchdowns, including the game-winner with a 4 minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the game, as the Jackrabbits posted a 28-21 victory over the University of South Dakota Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
With the South Dakota Showdown series win, SDSU improved to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, moving one step closer to a potential berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Jackrabbits will play for at least a share of the MVFC title and the league's automatic berth to the playoffs Nov. 19 at Northern Iowa.
The Jackrabbits unleashed a potent running game Saturday, rushing for a season-high 415 yards and rolling up a season-best 630 yards of total offense before a home crowd of 15,345.
After stuffing USD on fourth-and-1 on the Coyotes' opening drive, the first four plays of the ensuing Jackrabbit drive all went for first downs. Brady Mengarelli recorded runs of 12 and 10 yards around receptions of 23 and 17 yards by Jake Wieneke before Kyle Paris finished off the five-play, 65-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Jackrabbits moved the ball into USD territory on each of their next four possessions, but failed to put any points on the board. Jacob Warner jarred the ball loose from Christion at the 1-yard line to force a touchback and Jackrabbit kicker Chase Vinatieri missed a field goals from 43 and 52 yards to keep the score at 7-0.
USD tied the game late in the first half with a methodical 13-play, 65 yard that ended on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Chris Strevler to Brandt Van Roekel in the right corner of the end zone.
SDSU moved into Coyote territory in the waning seconds of the second quarter and ran out of time on a 35-yard pass from Christion to Mengarelli that went to the USD 7 before being able to call timeout and attempt a field goal.
The Jackrabbits regained the lead at 14-7 midway through the third quarter with another quick-strike drive. Christion hooked up with Marquise Lewis for 22 yards on the opening play and Isaac Wallace turned the corner down the left sideline for a 47-yard touchdown run.
Once again, USD responded with a scoring drive of its own. Streveler hit Riley Donovan for 42 yards to move into Jackrabbit territory, then threw the game-tying score to Dakarai Allen from 8 yards out.
SDSU continued to pick up big chunks of yards in the running game with three carries of 20 or more yards on the next drive. Christion weaved his way through the middle of the USD defense for a 20-yard touchdown run to complete a seven-play, 86-yard march that was done entirely on the ground.
USD knotted the game for the third an final drive on its first possession of the fourth quarter as Streveler capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Coyotes were positioned to take the lead moments later as Alex Gray picked off a Christion pass near midfield and USD moved into scoring position at the Jackrabbit 15. However, Miles Bergner pushed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide right to keep the score tied at 21.
SDSU's game winning drive covered 80 yards and chewed up more than five minutes with a mix of runs and short passes. A 28-yard run by Mengarelli put the ball at the USD 14 and Christion was sprung on the left side by a key block from Kyle Paris to score from 7 yards out.
The Jackrabbit defense forced a three-and-out on USD's next possession and senior linebacker Dallas Brown picked off a Streveler pass with 11 seconds remaining at the Jackrabbit 39 to seal SDSU's eighth straight win against its in-state rivals.
Mengarelli ran for a season-high 161 yards on 21 carries, with Wallace adding 102 yards on eight carries. Christion ran 12 times for 79 yards and completed 14-of-21 passes for 215 yards. Mengarelli also tallied three receptions for 55 yards and Wieneke recorded three catches for 45 yards.
For USD, Streveler completed 24-of-35 passes for 217 yards and ran 18 times for 66 yards. Trystn Ducker (45 yards), Alonge Brooks (27 yards) and Randy Baker (23 yards) each caught four passes for the Coyotes, who finished with 353 yards of total offense.
Linebackers Christian Rozeboom and Jesse Bobbit finished with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively, for SDSU. Jet Moreland registered a game-high 14 tackles for USD.
SDSU leads the all-time series, 52-50-7
The Jackrabbits have won all five meetings between the two squads in the Division I era and as Missouri Valley Football Conference rivals
Wallace recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and third of his career
Mengarelli topped 100 rushing yards for the first time this season (fourth of his career) and finished the day with 284 all-purpose yards
SDSU's 415 rushing yards were the most in a game since racking up 434 against Eastern Illinois in a 2012 FCS playoff game
The 2012 game against Eastern Illinois also marked the last time the Jackrabbits had two players rush for 100 yards in a game (Zach Zenner, 295, and Reggie Gandy, 151)
Rozeboom posted double digits in tackles for the fifth time this season, while Bobbit hit double figures in tackles for the fourth time in 2016
Christion did not throw a touchdown pass in a game for the first time this season
SDSU held a 34:46 to 25:14 advantage in time of possession
The Jackrabbits have outscored their opponents 115-49 in the third quarter so far in 2016