Jacks Welcome Bulldogs

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Collegian photo by ZOEY SCHENTZEL

Linebacker Daeton Mcaughy returns the ball after intercepting Aggies quarterback Miles Hastings in the Jacks’ two-point victory Saturday. McGaughy returned the ball 31 yards after the interception. It was his third career interception.

Cooper Kanthak , Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State football team welcomes Pioneer League member Butler in its final non-conference matchup of the season as the Jacks will take on the Bulldogs this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. 

Mike Uremovich in his first season at Butler has his team 2-0 with wins over St. Thomas (FLA.) and Taylor University, 31-26 and 45-10 respectively.

Butler will present a new challenge with a dual-threat quarterback Saturday night in Brookings.

In their latest game against Taylor, Butler quarterback Brett Bushka completed 14-of-20 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He added 80 yards on the ground on 12 carries and a touchdown. Bushka’s performance last week earned him Pioneer Football League (PFL) player of the week.

“They are a much better team than when we played them last,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “They do a really good job on defense, and their quarterback is a playmaker.” 

SDSU’s last and only prior matchup with Butler was in 2013 in Brookings, a game the Jackrabbits won 55-14.

This year’s Bulldogs are led by Bushka, a redshirt junior. He leads the team in rushing with 140 yards on the ground and one touchdown. He also leads in passing with 426 passing yards with five touchdowns on a 71% completion percentage.

Other weapons for the Bulldog offense are running back AJ Delnhart, who has 127 rushing yards on the season with a touchdown. Wide receiver Tyler Adams is their leading pass catcher with 16 receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

The offensive line is a strength for this Butler offense with a lot of experience, only allowing two sacks this season. They have three players that have earned All-PFL awards in Bryan Bystol, Colton Ruhland and Skyler Spetter. 

Butler averages 38 points per game with 216.5 rushing yards and 220.5 passing yards. 

Their defense has improved from previous seasons though. Last season they gave up 34 points per game, while this year only allowed 26 and 10 points respectively in their first two games. 

Teams have averaged 134.5 yards on the ground and only 176 yards through the air against the Bulldogs. Their defense has forced two interceptions and two sacks so far this season. 

“Getting the ball to our playmakers and seeing what they can do,” Stiegelmeier said when talking about how the SDSU offense can get back on track. 

Last week’s game against UC Davis was an improvement from the Jackrabbits’ week one loss against Iowa. SDSU scored 24 points while gaining 250 yards of total offense.

“It was good to finally get some touchdowns,” quarterback Mark Gronowski said. “We’ve just got to be better executing across the board. We finished well, and we can take that into our next game.”

Another area of concern for SDSU’s offense is that their all-American tight end Tucker Kraft, who left last week’s game against Iowa early, is injured and could be out for a while.

Despite some offensive struggles, the Jackrabbit defense has been good through the first two weeks of the season. 

Linebacker Adam Bock, is leading in tackles with 22 to lead his defense this year. Colby Huerter is second in tackles with 12. Daeton Mcgaughy and Caleb Francl each have an interception this season.