Hobo Day: Splitting the Penguins

Drue Aman

Drue AmanSports Editor

The Jackrabbits tallied 492 yards of total offense and had five plays over 30 yards from scrimmage in the 30-20 win.

There was nothing unusual about Saturday’s annual Hobo Day game. Unless Kyle Minett’s sixth straight 100-yard rushing performance is unusual.

SDSU toppled Youngstown State 30-20 behind the force of Minett’s 185 rushing yards (236 total) in the 97th annual Hobo Day game, moving SDSU to 3-4 and again higher up in the Missouri Valley conference title race.

It wasn’t as if Minett’s individual performance solely ran SDSU to a win. Sophomore Aaron Rollin caught five passes from Thomas O’Brien – who nearly passed for a career high total – for 127 yards. The three of them and the once-again stingy offensive line helped produce five straight scoring drives totaling 24 points, all in front of the tenth largest crowd in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium history.

“It starts with the run every game for us,” said Minett, whose 185 rushing yards were the second most in a game for his career. “Usually if we can run we feel pretty good about chances and opportunities in the game.”

The most unusual occurrence probably occurred on the first drive. After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, the Jacks manufactured a 7-play, 68-yard drive capped off with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Minett, accounting for 61 of SDSU’s 68 yards on the drive. It was the first time the Jacks scored on its first possession all season.

“We talk about it going into every game, we want to score every time we get the ball,” said O’Brien, who has now not thrown an interception for the third week in a row. “When we march down there, that’s huge for our confidence.”

The Jacks’ offensive onslaught was largely the product of big plays. SDSU’s offense had plays of 20, 30, 39, 41, 53 and 62 yards against a defense that stuck primarily to a man-to-man scheme. The 62-yard scamper by Minett – the second longest rush of his career – was a broken play, designed for a rush by Tyrel Kool but quickly altered when Minett saw a missed blocking assignment.

“That allows guys to get matched up on guys,” O’Brien said of Youngstown State’s man-to-man scheme. “That allows for opportunities for more explosive plays.”

Youngstown State had big plays too in accounting for their 402 yards of total offense. The Penguins had three plays longer than 30 yards in addition to wideout Dominque Barnes’ 110 receiving yards – the fourth 100-yard receiver SDSU has allowed during its three-game winning streak. Those stats didn’t undercut head coach Eric Wolford’s praise of the Jackrabbits in his first matchup against SDSU.

“We just couldn’t run away from them,” said the first-year coach of the now 3-5 Penguins. “That’s a compliment to their strength coach and their program.”

“They were physically the best team we’ve played thus far, the best coached.”

The Jacks played physical, but not entirely unblemished. The kicking game continued its struggles on the season early on with Peter Reifenrath’s missed 23-yard field goal, a low line-drive flight that sailed wide right. Rollin dropped a short pass play in the endzone that would have made the score 26-12.

They would rectify themselves later on, as Reifenrath made three subsequent field goals from 25, 42 and 43 yards that placed him past former SDSU kicker Adam Vinatieri on the career field-goal’s list. Rollin caught a 41-yard touchdown pass on SDSU’s next possession, growing SDSU’s lead to 18 points and putting himself above 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

“I knew there was a lot of game left,” said Rollin about his emotion’s after his dropped pass in the fourth quarter. “I told Thomas (O’Brien) and coach Meadows and JD (Josh Davis) I owe them all one, I felt like I had to go out and make a play.”

The theme of the remainder of SDSU’s 2010 campaign has been respect, ever since its 24-14 loss against Northern Iowa moved them to 0-4. Three wins evidently has not changed that.

“We were talking that we were still 2-4 before this game and there’s a lot more respect to be earned,” senior safety Corey Jeske said. “Hopefully we keep going.”

#1.1731117:1995229798.png:Sports-Robby-Gallagher1.png:Kyle Minett cuts into a wide-open hole to run through Saturday, Oct. 23. SDSU won 30-20, behind Minett?s 185 rushing yards and 236 total yards to improve to 3-4 on the season. The Jacks are now a half-game out of first place.:Collegian Photo by Robby Gallagher