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PLAYOFF BOUND? Jacks Put Penguins On Ice 42-13

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – South Dakota State made a emphatic final statement toward a potential Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth Saturday afternoon, wrapping up the regular season with a 42-13 drubbing of Youngstown State in a contest between nationally ranked teams at snowy Stambaugh Stadium.

The Jackrabbits, ranked 16th by the Sports Network and 17th in the FCS Coaches’ poll, won for the fourth consecutive time to improve to 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. YSU, ranked 15th and 18th, respectively, lost its third game in a row to also finish the regular season 8-4 and 5-3.

SDSU established a punishing running game early and rolled up a season-high 312 yards on the ground for the game, compared to only 75 by the Penguins.

The Jackrabbits took the opening kickoff to open the scoring with a seven-play, 81-yard drive. All but eight yards came via the ground as backup running back Reggie Gandy capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run.

Youngstown State was forced to punt on its first possession, but retained possession after a punt hit a Jackrabbit player and was recovered at the SDSU 19. The Penguins scored on third-and-goal as Martin Ruiz plunged into the end zone from a yard out, but the extra point was blocked to keep SDSU in the lead at 7-6.

SDSU gained control with a 21-point second quarter. Zach Zenner scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner to finish off an eight-play, 81-yard drive, then added a 6-yard touchdown run later in the quarter as the Jackrabbits again drove the length of the field to the tune of 13 plays and 80 yards to push their lead to 21-6. Sumner kept the drive alive on two third-and-long situations, completing an 18-yard pass to Brandon Hubert before scrambling for 16 yards and a first down on third-and-16.

Zenner’s second touchdown came after the Jackrabbits’ Charles Elmore intercepted a Kurt Hess pass in the end zone to thwart a potential scoring drive by YSU.

The Penguins cut right back to cut the margin to 21-13 as Hess found Ruiz down the left sideline for a 63-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

SDSU again pushed the lead to two scores in the final minute of the first half as Sumner hooked up with Jason Schneider on third-and-goal from the YSU 8 for the wide receiver’s 10th touchdown reception of the season. The Jackrabbits led 28-13 at halftime.

The Jackrabbbit defense came up with its second takeaway of the game late in the third quarter on an interception by R.C. Kilgore near midfield. Eight plays later, Sumner scored from seven yards out on a quarterback draw to increase the lead to 35-13.

SDSU tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown as Zenner found the end zone for the third time in the game, scoring on a 1-yard run. Zenner finished the game with 29 carries for 186 yards, with Gandy carrying 13 times for 90 yards and Sumner adding 38 yards on eight carries. Sumner also completed 15-of-19 passes for 170 yards as SDSU held a 482-213 advantage in total offense and a two-to-one advantage (40:04 to 19:56) in time of possession.

Jason Schneider led the SDSU receiving corps with seven catches for 59 yards. Trevor Tiefenthaler added three receptions for 50 yards.

Andre Stubbs led YSU in the rushing department, gaining 39 yards on his lone carry and adding three receptions for 41 yards. Ruiz finished with 26 yards on 12 carries and 72 yards on two receptions, including his 63-yard touchdown. Hess finished the afternoon 9-of-19 passing for 138 yards.

DeVon McKoy and Ali Cheaib each recorded 10 tackles for the Penguins. Kilgore led SDSU with six stops.

Pairings for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs will be announced at 10:30 a.m. Central Time Sunday on ESPNU. Playoffs begin next Saturday (Nov. 30) at campus sites.

NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series, 10-5 … the Jackrabbits have won all six meetings against Youngstown State since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008 … SDSU was 10-of-13 on third-down attempts … Zenner crossed the 100-yard mark for the 11th time in 12 games this season and 20th time in his career … Zenner finished the day with 1,695 yards for the season to move into fifth place on the Jackrabbit single-season rushing charts … Schneider moved into second in single-season receptions at SDSU with 71 and fourth in single-season receiving yards with 985 … Sumner upped his single-season passing total to 2,628 yards, good for fifth in the SDSU single-season annals … SDSU improved to 32-16 in league play since joining the MVFC … the Jackrabbits forced at least one turnover in all 12 regular season games … the victory was career No. 110 for John Stiegelmeier, who moved to within three of tying Ralph Ginn (113 victories from 1947-68) for the career lead at South Dakota State … attendance was 8,973

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