Jacks pick up first win of year over UC Davis


Joclyn Haven

Running back Isaiah Davis carries the ball in SDSU’s 24-22 win over UC Davis Saturday at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Davis ran for 115 yards in the win.

Evan Patzwald, Sports Editor

The Jackrabbits survived a late scare in their home-opener against UC Davis after a failed two-point conversion from the Aggies sealed the first win of the season for SDSU 24-22 in front of 15,182 fans at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

No. 2 SDSU (1-1) took a 24-10 lead with 9:04 left to play in the fourth quarter before No. 25 UC Davis (0-2) gained some momentum after a fumble from running back Angel Johnson gave the Aggies the ball at midfield. They drove 46 yards in five plays, cutting the lead to eight after a blocked PAT.

The Aggies successfully converted an onside kick to get the ball back with three minutes left in the game and scored a 25-yard touchdown a minute later to cut the lead to two points. UC Davis was not able to convert the two-point attempt to tie the game and the Jackrabbit football team kneeled and ran the rest of the clock out.

The Jacks most recently played the Aggies in the first round of last season’s FCS playoffs. SDSU won the game 56-24 and had a team playoff record 446 yards and six interceptions in the game.

This game was not the same as SDSU totaled 250 yards of offense in the game on 65 plays, averaging 3.8 yards per play. The team’s longest play on offense through two games has been 17 yards and have 27 total points scored through two games. This is not something the Jackrabbits are used to.

“I’m not concerned,” coach John Steigelmeier said of the team’s slow offensive start to the season. “I do know we’re beat up and I do know we have to make decisions based on that. We’re not the same team we were at the start of fall camp, but we’re a good football team.”

Part of the reason the Jacks haven’t been up to expectations has been the injury to tight end Tucker Kraft. Kraft was looked at as one of the best tight ends in the country and an NFL prospect coming into the season until he sustained a right ankle injury early in their game against Iowa.

“Tucker’s got a pretty serious injury and he’s got a long way to go,” Steigelmeier said. “Great spirit though, our guys have great spirits. They motivate the guys that are healthy and are cheering them on.”

Quarterback Mark Gronowski played his first game back in Brookings since May 8, 2021, after missing last season because of injury. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 110 yards, a passing touchdown and two interceptions. The Naperville, Illinois native ran 7 times for 22 yards with two rushing touchdowns.

“Body’s feeling great,” Gronowski said after the game. “It’s really exciting to be back out here and playing in front of Dana J. after not playing here for the past 16-17 months and this is the biggest crowd I’ve played in here and it’s great to see all the support that we had.”

Running back Isaiah Davis had 25 rush attempts for 115 rush yards and Amar Johnson ran 6 times for 39 yards. Jaxon Janke and Jadon Janke had three receptions apiece to pace the Jackrabbit receiving corps, with Jaxon compiling 36 yards and Jadon recording 33 yards. Tight end Zach Heins reeled in two passes for 16 yards. Tyler Feldkamp caught his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter on a seven-yard scramble play.

“I think it really takes a couple games to get going,” Gronowski said of the team’s offense. “We got a new offensive coordinator, got new guys on the offense and we just got to get adjusted to each other and build that trust.

Adam Bock continued his strong start to the season pacing the SDSU defense with nine total tackles, six solo and three assisted. Colby Huerter trailed behind with seven tackles and Tucker Large had six.

The Jacks are at home again next Saturday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. when they will face off against the Butler Bulldogs. Butler is 2-0 on the season with wins over St. Thomas (Fla.) and Taylor.