BROOKINGS – Coming into the week, there was talk about the battle of the No. 6 South Dakota State offense versus the No. 20 New Hampshire defense, but only one side showed up on Saturday as the Jacks ran away from the Wildcats 56-14.
The Jacks (11-2, 6-2) will now travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take on the top-seeded reigning national champions, the James Madison Dukes, in the FCS semifinals.
Prior to the contest, New Hampshire’s defense was allowing just 19 points per game. But that didn’t slow down the SDSU offense. The Jacks’ high-octane offense managed to find the end zone on their first three drives and push their lead to 21-0.
“They are a good defense, we just had a fun day today on offense,” said head coach John Stiegelmeier.
In the first quarter, the Jacks had a field day against the Wildcats defense. In just the first quarter, Taryn Christion had a 13-yard rushing touchdown, Jake Wieneke had a 48-yard rushing touchdown and Isaac Wallace contributed his own 13-yard rushing touchdown.
South Dakota State was led by familiar faces on offense, despite losing NFL Draft-hopeful Dallas Goedert to an apparent injury on the first drive.
Jake Wieneke led the receiving corps for the Jacks as he recorded his first 100-yard receiving game of the season. Wieneke finished his last home game with three touchdowns and had 140 receiving yards.
“It feels good,” the standout senior wide receiver said. “A good way to go out.”
Other than Wieneke, other receivers for the Jacks were relatively quiet. Skyler Cavanaugh, Adam Anderson and Dallas Goedert combined for four catches and 50 yards.
Taryn Christion finished the day with 190 yards on 13 passes for two touchdowns and managed to hurt another defense with his feet with 13 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, the Jacks compiled 266 yards. Isaac Wallace led the charge with seven carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
“The offensive line was killing it up front,” Wallace said.
Wallace wasn’t the only running back for the Jacks who found success against the Wildcats. Brady Mengarelli had nine carries for 49 yards. The short down back, Mikey Daniel, had eight carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.
The Jacks defense limited the Wildcats to just 49 yards in the first quarter. Including a three and out on their first possession of the game.
At the end of the second quarter, the Wildcats had a red zone opportunity and went for fourth and goal at the one-yard line, but the Jacks were able to do yet another goal-line stand.
“Huge for us, tremendously discouraging for them, a double hit in that situation,” Stiegelmeier said of the stop.
SDSU outgained New Hampshire by 169 rushing yards, as their defense was able to hold Evan Gray to just 60 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
Trevor Knight, the New Hampshire quarterback, threw two interceptions to Marshon Harris and Larenzo Williams. The Jacks were able to get to the quarterback twice as Ryan Earith and Elijah Wilson both recorded sacks. Earith also contributed six tackles on the night.
The defense was so effective that Max Pedinoff, the New Hampshire punter, saw the field seven times and punted for more yards than the Wildcats had in passing yards.
Now, the Jacks will need to take the week to get healthy. The Jacks were without Tiano Pupungatoa, a starting lineman. John Stiegelmeier also said Dallas Goedert will be questionable for the semifinal matchup against James Madison.
The Jacks will play James Madison Dec.16 with kick off at 3:30 p.m.