A diving effort by Dirk Kool provided the difference in the Jacks close win.
Dirk Kool was in the right place at the right time.
The senior linebacker was responsible for breaking up a two-point conversion that was the difference between a 1-0 or 0-1 start for the Jacks.
“That was a scary one. I’m still shaking from it,” Kool said in the post-game press conference, clearly still fired up on adreneline from the game.
The Jackrabbit defense, which turned in three solid quarters, wore down in the fourth quarter after an interception and fumble late in the game from the SDSU offense.
Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen took advantage of the Jacks’ miscues and marched his team down the field to bring the Thunderbirds within one point with two seconds on the clock.
“We’re here on the road, I thought we had all the momentum and I think a one play shot for three yards gave us the chance to win. I felt like we would come out of there, win or lose, glad we went for two,” SUU head coach Ed Lamb said.
It all came down to one play-one that Lamb is familiar with.
Lamb’s previous experience in the ‘two point conversion for the win’ department came in a 2009 game against Cal Poly. SUU found themselves down by one point after a late touchdown and initially lined up to go for the two point conversion and the win, but during a Cal Poly timeout, Lamb changed his mind and decided to go for the tie and overtime.
The point after was wide, and SUU lost the game.
“It’s not two points or overtime, it’s two points or one point, and that’s a lesson I learned,” Lamb said.
Kool led all Jacks defenders with 10 tackles, but the two-point conversion he denied is the biggest play SDSU has faced in their young season.
“I can be honest, I don’t even know if I touched the ball. Those games are scary, but a win’s a win,” Kool said.
Last season, junior Tyrel Kool moved from his natural position of running back to help fill a void at wide receiver.
Turns out he wasn’t just a fill in. Kool led the Jacks with 64 receptions and 808 receiving yards in 2010.
This season, Kool returned to the backfield to help fill the void left by Kyle Minett, who rushed for 12 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards in 2010.
Other than a late fumble, Kool looks like he will fit in the Jackrabbit backfield nicely. He carried the ball 28 times for 119 yards while also channeling his inner-receiver and catching six passes for a team-high 79 yards and a touchdown.
“It didn’t feel any different. I’m just in more spots on the field now,” Kool said of the switch. “It’s easy to make plays when you’ve got 10 guys blocking for you every play.”
Head coach John Stiegelmeier pointed out after the game that Kool has a team-first mentality, which is why he was moved to receiver last season. Stiegelmeier also said Kool would have been used the same way no matter what position he played last season.
“Tyrel Kool is a special student-athlete,” Stiegelmeier said. “Guys that work hard and give up for the team will always have success.”
Junior tight end Seth Daughters appears to be out for some time after suffering an injury late in the third quarter against Southern Utah.
Stiegelmeier said after the game that Daughters’ injury was “tough,” and he appears to be out for some time.
“We’ll be fine … I just hope that Seth is able to play some this year,” Stiegelmeier said.
Looking at the depth chart, the Jacks have a few options to choose from while trying to replace their starting tight end.
Senior Kyle Sheehan and sophomore Vince Benedetto will be the top candidates for the tight end job. Stiegelmeier also mentioned senior Brad Iverson could possibly see some time as well.