Jackrabbits offense on full display in win over Butler

Cooper Kanthak, Sports Reporter

After struggling offensively the first two weeks, South Dakota State turned things around Saturday as they defeated Butler 45-17 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in their final non-conference game of the season.

The Jacks move to 2-1 on the season as Butler now drops to 2-1. SDSU entered the game ranked second in the FCS media poll while Butler received some votes but didn’t crack the top 25.

The game started off fast for SDSU as they received the opening kickoff and marched for 75 yards on eight plays capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Mark Gronowski.

Butler responded with a quick score themselves as quarterback Bret Bushka completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Luke Wooten. Bushka led Butler with 211 yards through the air on 18 of 31 passing while gaining a team-best 29 rushing yards on nine carries.

The Jacks quickly came back with another 75-yard scoring drive set up by a screen pass from Gronowski to Canyon Bauer that went all the way to the Butler seven-yard line where the next play was a passing touchdown to Jaxon Janke.

SDSU grew its lead three minutes into the second quarter as Gronowski hooked up with receiver Jadon Janke in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.

Right before the half, the Jacks extended their lead 28-7 after recovering a muffed punt by Butler. Gronowski tossed his third touchdown pass of the half as he found Zach Heins for a 28-yard touchdown going into halftime.

SDSU did not slow down in the second half, scoring another 17 unanswered points that started with a 27-yard field goal from Hunter Dustman. Then a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs by reserves Angel Johnson and Rudy Voss.

Butler managed a few late scores with a 33-yard field goal and a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Bushka.

“Our success is props to our preparation. These guys come in every single week and there are no complaints, it’s just work,” said linebacker Daeton Mcgaughy. “I feel like that’s we’ve had so much success. Regardless of who’s on the field, the standard is the standard.”

SDSU had 463 total yards of offense compared to only 264 from the Bulldogs. The Jacks scored touchdowns on their first three offensive possessions and tallied 38 consecutive points throughout the game.

“It felt good to finally get some momentum going with the offense,” said quarterback Mark Gronowski.

Gronowski stuffed the stat sheet as he threw for 279 yards with three touchdowns while also rushing for 55 yards with another touchdown.

Isaiah Davis led the team on the ground with 74 yards on 11 carries. Redshirt freshman Josh Buri chipped in 29 yards on eight carries as well for the Jacks.

Through the air, Gronowski connected with seven different receivers. Jadon Janke and Canyon Bauer led the team with five receptions a piece. Both Jadon and Jaxon Janke caught a touchdown for SDSU as well as senior tight end Zach Heins. Head coach John Stiegelmeier had high praise for the offense after the game.

“I was very pleased with the offense,” Stiegelmeier said. “I thought Mark [Gronowski] played really well. So excited about the offense.”

The defense continued to play at a high level only allowing 17 points. Mcgaughy led the team with seven tackles. Adam Bock and Jason Freeman both had four tackles and Cale Reeder came up with the game’s only interception, his first of the year. The Jacks forced three turnovers from the Bulldogs while SDSU had none.

South Dakota State opens Missouri Valley Football Conference play Sept. 24 at Missouri State in a battle between top-10 teams. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Plaster Stadium in Springfield, Missouri.