With another thrilling comeback victory, the Jackrabbits spend another week atop the Great West Football Conference.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Jacks used a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat a ranked opponent. This week’s victim was No. 16 ranked University of California Davis.
The Jackrabbits continued their recent dominance of the fourth quarter. The Jacks shut out their opponent in the fourth quarter for the second week in a row, while scoring multiple touchdowns.
This week, the Jacks scored two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to erase an 11-point deficit.
Quarterback Andy Kardoes connected with tight end Chris Wagner for the first score, bringing the Jacks to within five points. After a failed two-point conversion, the Jacks needed a touchdown instead of a field goal.
With just less than seven minutes to go in the game, SDSU started a drive on their own 9-yard line, needing to travel 91 yards for the win. With the knowledge and experience of orchestrating two previous fourth-quarter comebacks, the offensive was confident they would score.
“We’ve been through it so many times. I guess its only three, but it seems like so many by now. It just feels like there’s no way we’re going to lose,” said Kardoes.
Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said, “Whatever the distance is, I think our guys have been in that situation enough now, that they just believe they’re going to win the football game. The belief has been proven.”
On a fourth-and-five, Kardoes connected with wide receiver Dusty Snyders for the first down. Snyders was not content with only the first down. He shook off a would-be tackler and scored the game-winning touchdown.
“It was fourth-and-five, but it was just like it was first down. There was no pressure, it seemed like. It was routine. I knew that our receivers were going to get open. It’s just a matter if I can get them the ball. I did. Dusty made a play to get in the end zone,” said Kardoes.
“He had position on the guy. I threw it to his outside shoulder. He walled the dude off, caught the ball and did the rest himself.”
“I was just trying to get open and make a play … he (Kardoes) stuck that ball the only place he could have,” said Snyders. “I remember seeing the ball come through the air. I didn’t know if it was going to get to me or not.”
Again, the Jacks went for two and failed, leaving them ahead by only one. The SDSU defense would again need to stop the opposing team from kicking a field goal to preserve a one-point victory.
The defense held the Aggies, and the Jacks found themselves with their second straight comeback victory against a ranked conference foe.
“My hat goes off to South Dakota State. We talked all week about them being a team that plays for a full 60 minutes,” said UC Davis Coach Bob Biggs. “Give South Dakota their due respect. They fought until the bitter end.”
The turning point in the game was when the Jacks kept the Aggies from scoring any points by blocking a field goal after a first-and-goal from the one-yard line.
“The blocked field goal, I think, gave them all the momentum,” Biggs said.
Stiegelmeier said, “The momentum of stopping them and blocking the field goal was really big in this football game.”
On the first play, UC Davis false-started. The next three plays failed to generate a touchdown, so the Aggies attempted a field goal. Defensive end Eric Schroeder rose high in the air and blocked the 19-yard field goal, preventing the Aggies from scoring.
“I just told Mitch Pontrelli, noseguard, just to hammer the guard and I said I’d jump over him. He just threw him on the ground, and I jumped up over him. It hit me right in the face. It was a good play on both our parts,” said Schroeder.
This season’s Jackrabbit football has not relied on any one player to make the big plays. Snyders’ reception made him the third Jacks receiver to catch a game-winning touchdown. Micah Johnson’s reception ended up being the game winner versus Nicholls State, and JaRon Harris was the hero at Cal Poly.
“It says that we are a team. It ain’t a one-man show,” Anthony Watson said. “It shows we are a complete team, a complete offense.”
Aiding the Jacks in their fifth consecutive win were 15,248 fans, the third-largest crowd in SDSU history.
Snyders said, “Man, our crowd is unbelievable. I know all of us wish we could go out there and thank every one of them for coming and supporting us, standing up and screaming. Being at Coughlin-Alumni is a whole different world when you have 15,000-plus people at your back rooting for you, getting up and screaming on third downs and stuff like that. Little things like that help you win ball games. Thanks to all those people out there who came.”