Jackrabbits fall 7-3 to Iowa in offensive struggle


Joclyn Haven

South Dakota State running back Isaiah Davis carries the ball in a NCAA football game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. The Jackrabbits fell to the Hawkeyes 7-3 in an game that included more combined punts (21) than first downs (16).

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits moved to 0-1 on the season after an ugly 7-3 road loss in their season opener to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.

This marked the 12th time the Jackrabbits have faced an opponent from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), their fifth with a member of the Big Ten Conference, and their first-ever matchup with the Hawkeyes. With the loss, SDSU’s record against FBS opponents fell to 2-10 and is 16-10 in season openers overall under coach John Stiegelmeier.

This season opener for the Jacks proved to be a defensive battle. With a combined total of ten points for both teams, not one touchdown was scored throughout the football game.

The Jackrabbits had a combined total of 120 yards the whole game with 87 yards passing and 33 yards on the ground. SDSU also struggled in this game with numerous penalties, picking up 12 penalties for 66 yards, double the number of rushing yards the Jacks picked up. Eight of SDSU’s 12 penalties came on false starts.

Another area of concern for the Jackrabbits was injuries, with multiple players on the team going down throughout the game.

“It was a hard-hitting game and I hope those kids are going to be okay,” Stiegelmeier said.

Among some of the key injuries was all-American tight end Tucker Kraft, who went down early in the game and never returned. Quarterback Mark Gronowski also went down in the second half, but soon returned.

Iowa put themselves on the scoreboard first with a 46-yard field goal by kicker Aaron Blom late in the first quarter. Blom previously missed a 40-yard field goal attempt on the Hawkeyes’ second drive of the game.

South Dakota State put their only points of the day on the board in the second quarter with a 44-yard field goal from Hunter Dustman. Dustman saw a good amount of action on the field during the game, punting the football 11 times on the day which is the most punts by a Jackrabbit since joining Division I in 2004.

In this defensive game, the Jacks had two takeaways on defense. The first was a 17-yard run back on an interception by junior linebacker Caleb Francl in the second quarter.

“I am very proud of our defense. You know the difficulty they had running the ball says a lot about, I would call it difficulty, but it says a lot about our front seven,” Stiegelmeier said.

Adam Bock, who grew up outside of Iowa City, Iowa had the second takeaway in the game with a forced fumble on Iowa tailback Leshon Williams in the second half of the game. Bock had over 100 friends and family at the game. The Jackrabbit linebacker finished the game with 13 tackles.

Thanks in part to the Jackrabbit defense, Iowa could never generate any offense, leading to boos from many Hawkeye fans at several moments. But Iowa punter Tory Taylor did his job, punting the ball inside the SDSU ten-yard-line multiple times which led to two safeties for the Hawkeye defense.

The first came with four minutes left in the third quarter when Iowa’s Jack Campbell tackled running back Isaiah Davis in the end zone to put Iowa ahead 5-3. The second safety came late in the fourth quarter when Gronowski was sacked by Joe Evans.

“I told our players that we are going to use this to get better,” Stiegelmeier said. “This will be great film for us to watch and we will find a lot of positives and correct negatives.”

Both quarterbacks struggled in the game. Gronowski was 10-26 for only 87 yards. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras finished just 11-25 for 107 yards and an interception, including missing several wide-open throws.

Davis finished with 18 carries for 50 rushing yards. He was also the Jackrabbits’ leading receiver, catching five balls for 32 yards. For the Hawkeyes, Williams finished with 72 yards on 24 attempts. Arland Bruce IV led them in receiving, with 68 yards on five receptions.

South Dakota State football returns to the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, South Dakota for their home-opener Sept. 10 against the UC Davis Aggies at 6 p.m.