Jacks look to return to winning ways against Bears

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

For the second year in a row, a ranked Cal Poly team got the best of a ranked Jackrabbit team in a 21-14 Mustang win on Oct. 3 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Cal Poly handed the Jacks (3-1, 2-0) their first loss of the season, but the game was not the only thing SDSU lost.

Midway through the second quarter, senior quarterback Ryan Crawford was hit as he completed a pass to Glen Fox. The blow to Crawford’s knee was a costly one as he was taken out of the game and replaced by redshirt freshman Thomas O’Brien. The Jacks also played the whole fourth quarter without defensive lineman Jake Steffen.

“We lost two good players in the game,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I think that maybe shocked us a little bit because we had been so fortunate with good health.

“We really don’t know [the extent of the injury yet]. They are seeing the doctor [Oct. 6]. Preliminary, it looks like a four to six week injury.”

The game was undecided until late in the fourth quarter. With the Jacks pinned deep inside their own territory with just over two minutes left in the game, O’Brien dropped back to throw and the ball was stripped from his hands. The Mustangs recovered in the end zone when the second turnover Cal Poly returned for a touchdown for the game-winning score.

“There was two minutes left and we had to go 90 yards to win the football game,” Stiegelmeier said. “If you want to play to win the football game, you have to pass the ball. It was just a three-step drop, you don’t get sacked in three-step drops and our guy missed the block.”

For the first time this year, the Jacks will look to rebound after a loss. SDSU ends their three-game road trip when they travel to Springfield, Mo. to take on Missouri State.

The Bears (3-2, 1-1) are coming off a 17-7 win against Youngstown State, a game where they forced five turnovers.

“We just have to understand [their defense], it’s a different defense,” Stiegelmeier said. “It’s not a hard defense but it’s different then we’ve played against. Our guys need to understand it and take care of it,” he said. “Turnovers don’t always occur because of the defense and the scheme, they occur because the offense doesn’t take care of the football.”

As of Oct. 6, O’Brien will get the start under center for the Jacks but that could change throughout the week of practice.

“Right now he is the starter,” Stiegelmeier said. “We are going to practice and compete all the time. Thomas was number two and he is number one now but the other guys are encouraged to battle.”

Quarterback Cody Kirby leads the Bears’ offensive attack against the Jacks. Kirby has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 801 yards and five touchdowns. In the win over Youngstown, Kirby threw for 252 yards and a score on 19-of-28 passing. Clay Harbor is Kirby’s favorite target with 22 receptions for 250 yards and two scores so far this season.

“We have to take care of their quarterback, he’s a really good football player,” Stiegelmeier said. “He’s got a great tight end, an All-American tight end. We have to be aware of those guys and take care of our responsibilities.”

The Bears’ defense forces a lot of turnovers but they give up a lot of yards. Opposing teams are averaging 393.8 yards of offense against MSU, with most of the yards coming through the air.

Kickoff for the Missouri Valley Football Conference tilt is slated for 2 p.m. at Plaster Sports Complex.