Hobo Day turns into a happy day for football team

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

he process may not have been pretty, but the SDSU Jackrabbit football team did the expected on Hobo Day as they defeated Missouri-Rolla 64-28 in front of 14,503 fans at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

SDSU started the game with a 44-yard kickoff return by JaRon Harris. The play set up a 29-yard field goal by Parker Douglass. Starting quarterback Andy Kardoes, however, aggravated his ankle injury on the drive and was unable to return to action.

Red-shirt freshman Ryan Berry entered the game at quarterback on the second SDSU drive, and led the Jacks to their first touchdown, a 14-yard run by Cory Koenig.

Missouri-Rolla struck back as Miner quarterback Evan Gray connected with wide receiver Brandon Landry on a 51-yard touchdown pass.

Berry gave SDSU some breathing room in the second quarter when he threw a six-yard scoring toss to Chris Molitor. Anthony Watson extended the SDSU lead to 24-7 with a 5-yard touchdown run.

The Jacks appeared to be on cruise control late in the first half when the game became sloppy as Berry fumbled the ball deep in Miner territory. The SDSU defense forced a punt, but the Miners got the ball back at midfield after a fumble on a punt return by Paul Aanonson.

Gray quickly capitalized on the mistake as he connected with Ashton Gronewald on a 15-yard touchdown toss to make the halftime score 24-14.

The Miners came out quickly in the second half as Gray connected with Gronewald again on a 77-yard passing strike to cut the SDSU lead to 24-21. Gray finished the game with 335 passing yards and four touchdowns, earning the respect of SDSU Head Coach John Stiegelmeier.

“They had us on our heels too often,” Stiegelmeier said.

The Jackrabbits responded to the threat as they rattled off 33 straight points to put the game out of reach. Koenig and Watson each scored another touchdown, and Douglass added two field goals. Reed Burckhardt came in to relieve Berry. He threw for one touchdown and ran in for another.

Meanwhile, the SDSU defense stopped the potent Miner offense on five consecutive drives.

“We had to do a gut check on defense,” said linebacker Billy Ray Kirch.

Running back Trevor Hohn entered the game late in the fourth quarter for some mop-up work, and ended up rewriting the Jackrabbit record book with two long runs. He broke off a 64-yard touchdown with a minute thirty-seven remaining, to break the Hobo Day record for most points scored, a mark that had stood since the 61-0 defeat of USD in the 1963 Hobo Day game.

Following an interception by Tyler Koch, Hohn broke off a 73-yard run in the final seconds, that established new SDSU game records for most rushing yards with 567, and most offensive yards with 689. The previous SDSU mark for rushing yards was 532 against Augustana in 1952, while the previous high for total offense was 682 yards against Wayne State in 1999.

The Jacks finished the game with three players with ore than 100 yards rushing. Koenig had 15 carries for 184 yards, Hohn had 161 yards on six carries, and Watson added 117 yards on 11 carries.

Koenig gave the credit for the running game’s success to the offensive line.

“As long as we run hard, it’s there,” Koenig said.

SDSU, now 4-3 on the season, hosts perennial I-AA power Georgia Southern next Saturday. The Jacks look to avenge a 63-7 defeat last year in Statesboro, Ga.

“The memory of last year’s experience will motivate our guys,” Stiegelmeier said.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.