JACKRABBIT STATE: SDSU Jumps On USD For 10th Straight Win In Series
Jackrabbits Lock Up Playoff Bye With 49-27 Win Over Coyotes
BROOKINGS, S.D. — Fifth-ranked South Dakota State stormed out to a 28-7 first-quarter lead and ran its way to a 49-27 victory over the University of South Dakota behind three long touchdowns from Pierre Strong, Jr. Saturday afternoon at a wintry Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
In winning the South Dakota Showdown Series matchup for the seventh consecutive time and extending their winning streak in the in-state rivalry series to 10 games, the Jackrabbits improved to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, likely locking up a top-eight seed in the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. USD ended its season 4-7 overall and 3-5 in league play.
SDSU needed only three plays to score on the opening drive of the game, with Strong covering the final 30 yards after respective runs of nine and 10 yards by Taryn Christion and Mikey Daniel.
The Coyotes answered on their first possession with a five-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Austin Simmons to Brett Samson.
The remainder of the first quarter belonged to the Jackrabbits. After the two teams traded punts, Strong broke through the USD defense on the first play of the next Jackrabbit drive for a 73-yard touchdown. The redshirt freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas, ended the first quarter with 108 yards on only five carries.
Marshon Harris intercepted a Simmons pass on the ensuing USD drive, which the Jackrabbits quickly turned into points as Christion connected with Cade Johnson on a fly-sweep pass for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Jackrabbits upped their lead to 28-7 in the final minute of the first-half with another quick strike. On the second play of the drive, Christion hit freshman tight end Blake Kunz over the middle for a 59-yard touchdown.
SDSU lost the battle for field position for most of the second quarter, but came up with another takeaway in the final minute of the half as Ryan Earith sacked Simmons, jarred the ball loose and recovered the fumble at the USD 26. Two plays later, the Jackrabbits again cashed in as Christion rolled around left end, picked up a couple key blocks and found paydirt from 16 yards out to put SDSU ahead 35-7 at the half.
USD again scored on its first possession of a half, putting together a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Simmons.
Johnson and the Jackrabbits kept USD at arm’s length as the sophomore wide receiver took another short pass on a fly sweep from Christion around the left corner for a 10-yard touchdown. It was Johnson’s 15th touchdown reception of the season and the 100th career touchdown pass for Christion.
Simmons accounted for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull the Coyotes to within 42-27 with 6 minutes, 9 seconds to play. First, Simmons ran for a 16-yard score, then threw a 17-yard touchdown to Connor Herrmann to finish off a 13-play, 78-yard drive.
USD had a chance to recover the ensuing onside kick, but the Jackrabbits recovered and Strong went to work one more time, breaking through the middle for a 46-yard touchdown. Strong’s 253 yards on only 17 carries marked the 10th-highest single-game rushing total in program history.
The Jackrabbits outgained USD by 50 yards, 495-445, despite running 45 fewer offensive plays, 98-53. SDSU racked up 323 yards on the ground and another 172 through the air as Christion completed 12-of 22 passes. Johnson led the receiving corps with three catches for 58 yards, with Adam Anderson adding three receptions for 22 yards.
Simmons completed 34-of-58 passes for 295 yards and was the Coyotes’ leading rusher with 79 yards on 17 carries. Shamar Jackson led USD receivers with 11 catches for 111 yards.
The Jackrabbit defense was led by Christian Rozeboom’s game-high 13 tackles. Joshua Manchigiah added a career-high nine tackles.
Pairings for the FCS playoffs will be announced on ESPNU at 11:30 a.m. Central. Should the Jackrabbits receive a top-eight seed, they will receive a first-round bye host a second-round playoff game Dec. 1. Otherwise, if SDSU is selected to play a first-round game, it would play Nov. 24 at a campus site to be determined.
- SDSU leads the all-time series, 54-50-7 and has won the last 10 meetings dating back to 2001
- The Jackrabbits have scored in 36 of 40 quarters – plus an overtime session – this season
- SDSU has scored first in all 10 games in 2018
- Christion became the 18th quarterback in FCS history to record 100 career passing touchdowns
- Christion posted his 17th career three-touchdown game in the passing department
- Christion has rushed for and passed for a touchdown in the same game 19 times in his career
- Johnson’s 15 touchdown receptions are one shy of the single-season school record set three times by Jake Wieneke (16 in 2014, 2016 and 2017)
- SDSU’s Krockett Krolikowski blocked a fourth-quarter extra-point attempt, marking the third week in a row the Jackrabbits have blocked a kick (blocked punts versus Missouri State and at Southern Illinois)
- Rozeboom tallied double figures in tackles for the 17th time in his career
- Earith was credited with three of SDSU’s 11 quarterback hurries
- Harris became the eighth Jackrabbit with an interception this season
- Strong has rushed for a combined 577 yards and eight touchdowns the last three weeks, setting a new career high in yards each game
- Temperature at kickoff was 17 degrees after light snow fell Friday afternoon and evening
- Attendance was 8,517
-Recap Courtesy SDSU Athletics