Blown chances hurts Jacks

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

It has been a season of “almost” and “what if” for the Jackrabbit football team.

The Jacks (2-4, 0-0 GWFC) have competed with several nationally ranked teams, but they almost always seemed to falter down the stretch.

There was the season opener against Western Illinois where the Jacks rallied in the fourth quarter only to lose in the fourth overtime when junior quarterback Ryan Berry’s pass was intercepted. There was the game against Youngstown state where the Jacks rallied again to pull even, only to lose again. And there the last game against Georgia Southern where the Jacks rallied from a 31-7 half-time deficit only to lose on a last second field goal. The only big loss-a whole 14 points-of the season was against Northern Iowa, who was ranked fifth at the time, but even then the Jacks had a halftime lead.

In the Jacks’ two wins, both at home, they have dominated in pretty much every facet of the game. The combined scores of those games were 83-3. The wins were so dominant that head coach John Stiegelmeier called them “the most complete game” he has seen since coming here. The victories did not come against the toughest of competition though. Texas State and Stephen F. Austin had only one win between the two of them when they visited Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

The offense is getting better by the week, as is the play by Berry. Berry threw for 335 yards last week with three touchdowns compared to just 139 yards in the season opener against Western Illinois. The Jacks do not turn the ball over on offense except for last week when they turned the ball over three times in the first half. The emergence of red shirt freshman running back Kyle Minett and the steady play of senior Cory Koenig have given a spark to the running game.

The defense has been very solid for the Jacks. They went over seven quarters without giving up a point. Jimmy Rogers leads the team defensively with 58 tackles; he also has an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Mitch Pontrelli leads the team in sacks with three and Tyler Koch leads the team in interceptions with two, one he returned for a touchdown.

Senior place kicker Parker Douglass has been himself. He has only missed one field goal attempt, against Georgia Southern. He also broke his own school record for longest field goal, a 57-yarder that he made in the Hobo Day game against Stephen F. Austin. Freshman punter Dean Priddy has been steady for the Jacks. He is averaging 37.4 yards per attempt with three that have gone over 50 yards; the longest was 58.

The Jacks have improved every week. The Jacks have shown they can compete against nationally ranked teams. Now they just have to prove they can pull it out down the stretch.

The Jacks return to action this weekend hosting Cal Poly at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.