After SDSU’s first game in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, head coach John Stiegelmeier asked his players if they could play better next week.
The question was met with some hesitation from the Jacks but with good reason, as the Jackrabbits were close to mistake-free football and beat the No. 14 Youngstown State Penguins, 40-7, in front of 11,832 fans (a Cereal Bowl record) at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jacks, who led wire-to-wire, had minuscule mistakes, including: settling for a field goal in their first drive, fumbling in the late first-half by Jordan Paula, giving up a single touchdown and missing an extra point field goal. The Jackrabbits did have 89 penalty yards, but everything else went SDSU’s way in the first-ever Missouri Valley Football game.
“That team outplayed us, played extremely hard and did all the things you need to do to win a football game in this conference, and you need to give them credit,” said YSU’s head coach Jon Heacock, who is in his eighth year of coaching the ‘Guins.
Youngstown State looked to have momentum after taking the second half kickoff and scoring a touchdown on a Scott Jabari’s 2-yard run. The Penguins surge would be short lived as SDSU provided an answer of their own.
SDSU (1-1 overall and 1-0 MFVC play) running back Kyle Minett’s longest rush of 53 yards seemed to be stopped just beyond the line of scrimmage, but Minett used his agility and speed and bounced it out for a touchdown to make the Jacks ahead, 33-7. The score put a dagger into the Penguins’ (0-2 and 0-1) victory hopes.
“Kyle is a special player. He has got a lot of instincts when he has the ball in his hands; he seems to know to lower his shoulder and run with power,” said Stiegelmeier. “In the open field, he can twist and turn and spin, and he has got a great lateral cut.
“He had a special night.”
Minett rushed for over 100 yards, for the second straight time this season. He also had 65 yards receiving.
Minett had 13 of his game-high 123 rushing yards in the first SDSU drive, and the Jackrabbits took an early 3-0 lead off a 20-yard field goal from freshman Peter Reifenrath after an impressive eight-play drive.
Jackrabbits’ quarterback Ryan Berry, who struggled last week against Iowa State, went 2-2 on the first drive, including a 34-yard completion to sophomore Colin Cochart.
Berry had a rushing touchdown via a sneak from the 1-yard line to make the score 10-0 with 7:05 left in the first quarter. Berry then had a 34-yard touchdown pass to JaRon Harris to make the score 17-0. After the pass, Berry pumped his arms into the air and prompted the student section to make some noise.
Berry realized how big the game was. “It’s big for us, simply because it’s a conference game. One of your big goals is to win the conference,” he said.
Not to be outdone, the defense got into the scoring action, with a safety by Brian Fischer with five minutes to go in the first half.
The Jackrabbit defense was a stingy host, allowing only 205 yards compared to SDSU’s 506. The Jacks allowed three Penguin quarterbacks (Brandon Summers, Todd Rowan and Ferlando Williams) 98 passing yards with three interceptions.
“South Dakota State played football the way it was meant to be played, and they beat us, period,” said Heacock.
YSU’s running back, Jabari finished with 64 yards on 10 carries. Andre Elliott led the Penguins’ defense with nine tackles.
SDSU’s Jimmy Rogers anchored a solid defense with 13 tackles on the night.
The Jackrabbits will seek perfection next week as they take on Valley Football Conference rival Western Illinois at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium at 6 p.m.
#1.882455:2101856571.jpg:Football.3.CMYK.COURTESYUR.jpg::University Relations#1.882454:4122314817.jpg:Football.CMYK.COURTESYUR.jpg:SDSU wide receiver Glen Fox pushes through the Youngstown State defense during the first half. Fox had 28 yards during the Missouri Valley Football Conference game.:University Relations