Nelson vs. Heckendorf: Battle of Gunslinger Quarterbacks

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

The SDSU Jackrabbit football team will strive for its third straight victory on Saturday as they face the St. Cloud State Huskies in the annual Hobo Day game.

The game features two of the NCC’s best quarterbacks–SDSU’s Brad Nelson and SCSU’s Keith Heckendorf.

Nelson leads the NCC with an average of 283 passing yards per game while Heckendorf is second with 253.7 yards per game.

Nelson, a first-year starter from Winona, Minn., took over the reins of the SDSU offense after serving for two seasons as the backup to Dan Fjeldheim. He has thrown 2,264 yards and 18 touchdowns while having a completion rate over 65 percent.

The junior is less than 500 yards from breaking the SDSU single-season passing record with three games to play.

Heckendorf, a four-year starter for the Huskies from Mosinee, Wis., is the all-time passing leader for SCSU with 9,073 yards and 97 touchdowns. He was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy last year as he authored a season that included 2,817 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. He has also had four five-touchdown games in his collegiate career.

The senior has thrown for 2,283 yards and 26 touchdowns so far this season.

Sophomore Josh Davis has been Nelson’s top target with 49 catches for 711 yards and six touchdowns. Other top receivers for the Jacks are Solomon Johnson and Brian Janecek. Heckendorf has several targets for his passes. Ed DeShazer leads the team with 521 yards while Ryan Koch and Tim Greene have 10 and eight touchdowns respectively.

Saturday’s game will be the 33rd matchup between the Jackrabbits and the Huskies since the rivalry begain in 1947 with SDSU having a 24-8 advantage in the series.

The Huskies won last year’s game in St. Cloud 28-24. The Jacks jumped out to a 21-7 first-quarter advantage before Heckendorf led the Huskies to victory with a 305-yard, three-touchdown effort. Fjeldheim passed for a school-record 460 yards in the losing effort.

The last game between the two schools in Brookings took place in 2001. The outcome was a 30-24 comeback win for the Jacks despite Heckendorf’s school-record 369 yards passing. The Huskies have not won in Brookings since 1995.

Kickoff at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is at 2 p.m.