Jacks win home opener 45-20

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

The SDSU Jackrabbit football squad bounced back from their season-opening loss Saturday night as they defeated Winona State 45-20 in front of 8,718 Cereal Bowl fans at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

“It’s good to be on the other side,” said wide receiver Brian Janecek.

It is especially good to be on the winning side after a 52-0 loss to UC-Davis last week.

“I’m tremendously proud of our players and coaches to put something in the past and come back to play a great game,” said SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier.

The first play set the tone for State as Hank McCall, playing cornerback for the first time, intercepted a Brian Wrobel pass to set the Jacks up in Warrior territory. Despite the first SDSU drive ending in an interception, the home team scored on its next possession when Janecek hauled in a 22-yard touchdown strike from Brad Nelson to give the Jacks a 7-0 lead.

After the Warriors tied the score, SDSU drove down the field again to set up a 30-yard field goal by freshman Parker Douglass. The Jacks then added another score before halftime on Janecek’s second touchdown, a nine-yard pass play, to give SDSU a 17-7 halftime lead.

The Jackrabbits started the second half with a pair of big plays to distance themselves from the Warriors. Nelson went deep on the first play of the second half with a 72-yard pass-and-run to Josh Davis. After a Winona three-and-out, Joey Abell blocked the ensuing punt to set up a six-yard touchdown run by Anthony Watson to give SDSU a 31-7 advantage.

Nelson finished his evening early in the fourth quarter with a one-yard scoring toss to Paul Keizer to cap off a 13-play, 74-yard scoring drive. The senior quarterback completed 24-of-31 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns to bounce back from his poor performance last week.

Nelson said that the passing attack was back into the flow that they had been in during the five game winning streak that ended the 2003 season.

“I thought Brad had a great presence in the pocket,” Stiegelmeier said.

Linebacker Chris Coauette intercepted a pass on the next drive that led to a 30-yard scoring play from backup quarterback Andy Kardoes to Chris Molitor to establish a 45-13 SDSU lead.

Winona State scored a late touchdown to bring the final score to 45-20.The Jackrabbit running attack was paced by Watson’s 14-carry, 60-yard effort with Cory Koenig adding 51 yards on ten carries. The receiving corps was led by Davis’s four catches for 137 yards. Solomon Johnson added six passes for 55 yards while Janecek had five catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns.

The SDSU defense sacked the Warrior quarterbacks five times and was forcing

Wrobel to scramble throughout the evening. Coauette led the defense with ten tackles with John Perry adding eight tackles. The Jacks had reshuffled their defense after the loss to UC-Davis to increase team speed. These moves included moving Coauette from inside to outside linebacker, starting McCall at cornerback, and inserting linebacker Mike James into the starting lineup.

“It’s our defensive coaches making tough decisions,” Stiegelmeier said.

In addition to completing his first collegiate field goal, Douglass gave SDSU an advantage in field position throughout the game as he nailed the Warriors at or inside their own 20-yardline after seven of his eight kickoffs. Stigelemeier described the freshman from Columbus, Neb., as a perfectionist and a great competitor.

“That guy is tremendous,” Stiegelmeier said.

SDSU returns to action next Saturday when they host Western Oregon in the annual Shrine Game. Kickoff at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium will be at 7 p.m.