Jacks face Panthers on Hobo Day

Evan Patzwald, Assistant Sports Editor (He/Him)

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits bounced back from their heartbreaking loss to Southern Illinois with a strong performance against Western Illinois. 

They now look forward to playing Northern Iowa as the Panthers travel to Brookings to play in the 107th annual Hobo Day game Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

SDSU currently holds a 62-39-5 record in Hobo Day games.

The game is preceded by the Hobo Day Parade, taking place in Downtown Brookings. The parade consists of floats created by student organizations and Brookings locals. The parade starts at 9:30 a.m.

Ahead is what to look for in SDSU’s game against UNI.

About South Dakota State

The No. 6 Jacks (5-1, 2-1 in MVFC) moved up one spot in the STATS Perform FCS poll as they moved from No. 7 to No. 6. 

They most recently beat the Leathernecks of Western Illinois last weekend. They started off the game slow as they only held a 13-10 lead at halftime over a team that has only one win all season. 

The Jacks were sparked by a 21-point third quarter after Canyon Bauer recovered a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown to start the period for the away team. They never looked back and won the game by a final score of 41-17.

The last time these teams faced off was in the season opener last spring. The Jacks won 24-20 after completing a game-winning drive led by quarterback Mark Gronowski in his first game. 

“If there was one thing about Hobo week, there’s a lot of distractions and late nights by people other than our players, but good night’s sleep and focus all come into play in winning football games,” coach John Stiegelmeier said.

About Northern Iowa

The 20th-ranked Panthers (3-3, 1-2 in MVFC) are looking to bounce back after dropping their last two games after starting the season 3-1. Last weekend, they put themselves in a big hole against South Dakota as they fell behind 24-0 at halftime before ultimately losing the game 34-21. 

The week before that game, UNI faced off against powerhouse NDSU and fell 34-20 in that game. 

UNI is eighth in the Missouri Valley offensively, averaging 27.2 points per game, but rank fourth in the MVFC defensively, allowing 18.3 ppg. 

UNI’s last win against the Jacks was in the FCS Playoffs in 2019. After falling behind 10-0 early, the Panthers shut out SDSU the rest of the game and won 13-10 after an 18-yard field goal to win the game and advance to the quarterfinals.

Key Players for SDSU 

On the offensive side of the ball, SDSU remained dominant after a third quarter surge, which led them to victory last weekend. 

Quarterback Chris Oladokun completed 17-of-25 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Pierre Strong Jr. also continued his solid season as he rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries. 

Jadon and Jaxon Janke are other players to look out for this weekend. Jaxon is coming off a 101-yard game with a touchdown off nine catches and his brother Jadon had 21 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Adam Bock added seven tackles against the Leathernecks and is leading the team in tackles on the year with 48. Isaiah Stalbird is second on the team with 26 and he finished with five tackles against WIU.

Key Players for UNI

The Panthers are led by Michigan St. transfer quarterback Theo Day, who is in his first season under center for the team. Most recently against USD, he threw for a season-high 303 on 25-of-35 passing. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game. 

“He’s got a really good arm, he makes good decisions, he’s got a lot of targets and weapons,” Stiegelmeier said.

Northern Iowa’s leading rusher is Dom Williams, and he has gained 388 yards on the year. Isaiah Weston and Quan Hampton are receivers to watch in the game with Weston having 453 yards on the season and Hampton having 380. Hampton amassed 108 yards against USD last weekend.

Defensively, UNI is led by linebacker Spencer Cuvelier. He has 73 total tackles this season, with 20 of those being solo tackles. Behind Cuvelier is Korby Sander with 43 tackles on the year.

“We’re gonna have a good game plan and we’re gonna do everything we can to execute it,” Stiegelmeier said. “You get better when you play teams like this, and you better bring your A-game and play every play like it’s your last or you may be feeling disappointed at the end of the game.”