Jackrabbits falter against Sycamores


SDSU fell behind 13-0 early and failed to close the gap in the 41-30 loss, their first against conference opponent Indiana State.

SDSU recovered a Ronnie Fouch fumble and faced 1st-and-10 from the Sycamore’s 24-yard line8212;a great opportunity to overcome an early 20-3 deficit and take the lead before halftime.

However, Indiana State is not the Indiana State of old, and Fouch’s fumble was one blemish in an otherwise solid performance that dashed SDSU’s playoff hopes before, all before November. All told, it was a game in which the Jacks conceded 500 yards of total offense to the Sycamores, along with a record-setting day by Darrius Gates that led Indiana State to a 41-30 win in Terry Haute, Ind.

“I think in every phase they outplayed us, they out-coached us,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “They just kept after us, my hat goes off to those guys.”

ISU kept after the Jackrabbits from the opening kickoff. The Sycamores facilitated a 12-play, 89-yard drive and took an early 7-0 lead. A lead the former Missouri Valley laughingstock never relinquished.

Led by transfer student and former University of Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch, the Sycamores grew their lead to 13-0 after a dismal three-and-out on SDSU’s first offensive series. By comparison, Indiana State scored nine points total in the first two match-ups between the two and only one touchdown &- through a trick halfback pass play.

There was little unexpected from Indiana State schematically, but poor tackling8212;a theme in SDSU’s losses8212; manifested itself early and frequently when Gates possesses the football. Gates’ stat totals at the end of the game were replete with touchdowns (5), rushing yards (143) and gains for a first down (10).

“These guys are on scholarship too,” said senior cornerback Cole Brodie of the teams’ sporadic tackling of Indiana State. “It’s probably more mental than anything8212; we have to prepare better, we have to be more intense … they played like they wanted it more than us today.”

Actually, the outcome of Saturday’s game seemed to bend in SDSU’s favor. After a second-straight turnover by Indiana State, the Jacks had a chance at ISU’s 24-yard line to either tie or take the lead just before halftime. Sophomore quarterback Thomas O’Brien rifled a pass toward the end zone into heavy coverage and was intercepted, his first in nearly a month.

“From the people I talked to, we didn’t underestimate these guys,” said senior runningback Kyle Minett, who gained over 100 rushing yards for the seventh-consecutive week in the loss. “We knew they were a good football team; we saw it on film.”

Not as if the Jacks had poor field position or struggled on third-down conversions, SDSU started at their own 40-yard line or better seven times and were nine of 16 on third down conversions. The “big-play” factor that was the highlight of SDSU’s 30-20 win against Youngstown State the week before was also negligible. The Jacks had only two plays over 20 yards on Saturday.

That doesn’t even factor in injuries. SDSU saw sophomore linebacker, Chris Tracy, leave the game with an injury, as well as sophomore wide receiver, Aaron Rollin. Both are expected to miss substantial time.

“Our biggest injury is in our hearts,” said Stiegelmeier, who moved his coaching record to 16-6 in Missouri Valley conference play since joining the league in 2008. “If you play as close as you can, you tackle, you defend the pass, you block, and you lose to a football team like these guys did, then I think you can the leave the locker room a little easier. But here, we can’t.”

#1.1743571:2994858106.png:Kyle Minett 11-03-2010 60:Kyle Minett rushes against Nebraska last month. Minett rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns in SDSU?s 41-30 loss to Indiana State.:Collegian Photo by Aaron Stoneberger