There were fireworks on and off the field as the 20th-ranked Jackrabbit football team kicked off the 2007 football season August 30 at the newly renovated Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill. The longest game in Jacks history saw SDSU (0-1,0-0 in GWFC) falling short to Western Illinois University Leathernecks (1-0,0-0) 29-26 in four overtimes.
With a chance to score a touchdown and the win, or kick a field goal and force an unheard-of 5th overtime; SDSU quarterback Ryan Berry threw a pass on the right sideline that fell into the hands of Leathernecks safety Patrick Stoudamire to seal the victory for Western Illinois. Berry ended the day with three inceptions and two touchdowns.
The only touchdown for the Jacks in regulation was made possible by an incredible 63-yard kickoff return by Trevor Hohn, with 3:18 left in regulation. Hohn on the kickoff suffered what may have been have been a season ending injury. At the 1:45 mark with the Jacks facing a fourth and one, they called on senior running back Cory Koenig. Koenig did not disappoint as he moved the chains and continued the game-tying touchdown.
Berry then completed a pass to Matt Anderson to propel the Jacks to the two-yard line. With 38 seconds left in regulation to back up tight end Colin Cochart-Cochart was only in the game due to an injury to All-American Chris Wagner-who hit pay dirt as he caught a pass with two Leathernecks defenders in his face. Using the Cochart touchdown, along with two Parker Douglass field goals the Jacks were trailing 13 to 12.
SDSU head football coach John Stiegelmeier had a choice to make. Either going for two and have one play decide whether the Jacks would win or lose, or take the sure thing and go for the extra point kick, and play extra football. Stiegelmeier first went with his gut and lined up for two and the win. However before the ball was snapped, a timeout was called and the Jacks decided to play it safe, going for one and forced the game into overtime.
Stiegelmeier revealed that in most cases he would have gone for two, and went for the win. But since WIU kicker Taylor Rowan missed two field goals in the game and All-American Parker Douglass was 2-2 on his kicks, he decided that overtime was the best choice for his team.
In the first overtime, the Jacks had the ball, and scored first on a Douglass 22-yard field goal to make the score 16-13. SDSU senior defensive lineman Jason Boswell netted a sack for a loss of six yards on WIU’s first play of overtime. Rowan followed up three plays later with a 38-yard field goal to tie it back up at 16 a piece.
In the second overtime, WIU quarterback Matt Barr, who gave the Jacks headaches all night, ran the ball in from 17 yards out to give WIU a 23-16 lead. Berry again faced a fourth and four when he hit senior wide out Chris Doblar for a 19-yard touchdown and Douglass added an extra point to knot the score at 23.
The third overtime showcased both defenses as both. Douglass converted on a 36-yarder and Rowan on a 27-yarder tying it up at 26.
In the fourth overtime, Rowan converted a 27-yard field goal, Berry and company could not give an answer and the Leathernecks came out victorious.
“It was a fun game to be a part of. It was played the way a football game should be played. I’m proud of our young men for giving ourselves a chance to win,” Stiegelmeier said.
The Jacks were led offensively by JaRon Harris, who had six catches for 58 yards, and Doblar, who caught four passes for 33 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, the Jacks had six players in double digits with tackles. “I thought our defensive line was very good,” said Stiegelmeier. Stiegelmeier also said that Mitch Pontrelli and Eric Schroeder stood out on the defensive line.
#1.883354:2196240438.jpg:Football.el.jpg:Running back Cory Koenig follows offensive lineman Nick Flesner through the Leathernecks defense. Koenig led the team with 28 rushes for a total of 117 yards.:Eric Landwehr/University Relations