MACOMB, Illinois – South Dakota State must have learned something from the games they’ve lost this season, as they kept the ball away from Western Illinois in their 52-24 victory.
With the high-octane offense getting out to a slow start on the season. Quarterback Taryn Christion and the SDSU offense managed to break out against the Leathernecks. He passed for 386 yards and five touchdowns. The No. 8 Jacks improved – to 6-2, 3-2 while the No. 12 Leathernecks fell to 5-3, 2-3.
“Really proud of this football team,” Jackrabbit coach John Stiegelmeier said in a radio interview as his team held the ball for 36 minutes, 44 seconds. “To go on the road in the Missouri Valley to have some travel frustrations and put that all behind you and play a great game.”
There was a lot to be proud of for the 20th-year head coach. The Jacks recorded their second consecutive 50-point victory in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The Jacks had only a 24-17 lead at the half, but SDSU outscored Western Illinois 28-7, including a 21-point 3rd quarter.
Wide receiver Jake Wieneke tore apart the Leathernecks defensive secondary with eight catches for 97 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wieneke had gotten off to a slower start than Jack fans are used to, but he looked like the guy who caught 78 passes for 1,316 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, today.
It wasn’t just Wieneke that tore up the Leathernecks secondary. Tight end Dallas Goedert made another impressive effort – as he went for 113 yards on eight receptions. It was the Britton native’s third consecutive game in which he recorded 100 receiving yards.
Wide receiver Marquise Lewis also stepped up and found the end zone twice on just two receptions and for 76 yards.
“He has had some frustrations at times but today he rose up,” Stiegelmeier said of the sophomore wide receiver, “those guys work hard. They don’t get all the throws because of the other two guys we got,”
On the ground, the Jacks racked up 193 yards. Brady Mengarelli led the rushing charge for the as he went for 71 yards on 12 carries. Mikey Daniel also touched the ball 12 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Taryn Christion had the timeliest running of the day, including scrambles for first downs on third downs. Christion added 46 yards to the rushing attack on eight carries.
“When we are passing, it opens up the run game,” Christion said of the balanced attack that the Jacks have started to use, “When we run, it opens the passing game.”
The lone miscue for the Jacks came on just the second drive of the game when Taryn Christion threw an interception that led to a Western Illinois touchdown.
Coming into the contest, the Leathernecks fielded a defensive line that had made a habit to getting to the quarterback, but the offensive line proved to be a proper line of defense as they didn’t allow a sack on Christion.
It wasn’t just the offensive attack that propelled the Jacks to victory – it was a complete effort on all three phases of the ball.
On defense, the Jacks stymied the Leathernecks, who came into the game as one of the more efficient teams on 3rd downs in the FCS, Western Illinois managed to convert on just two of their eight 3rd down attempts.
Middle linebacker Christian Rozeboom led the charge for the Jacks with ten tackles and an interception, but the biggest play on defense was made by cornerback Jordan Brown.
Brown managed to strip the leading receiver in The Valley, Jaelon Acklin, as it stopped the progression of a Leatherneck drive in the third quarter.
“Again, we practice turnovers and turnover circuit,” Stiegelmeier said, “Credit Jordan Brown with the force fumble.”
Brown added eight tackles to his game changing forced fumble and contributed to limiting Acklin to just 59 yards on six receptions.
On special teams, which has been shaky at a majority of times this season, stepped up for the Jacks. Chase Vinatieri hit on all of his extra point attempts, including a 30-yard field goal. Brady Hale only had to punt twice, but when he did he managed to have an average of 39 yards.
Up next for the Jacks will be the toughest test they’ve faced this season. The undefeated and No. 2 ranked North Dakota State Bison will travel to Brookings next Saturday for the Dakota Marker.
“That’s the only thing on our mind right now, we got a big one coming back home to Dana J. Dykhouse,” Rozeboom said.