Jacks earn road win against No. 4 Missouri State

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

Two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a strong defensive effort led to South Dakota State’s win Saturday against No. 4 Missouri State, a 28-14 victory at Robert W. Plaster Stadium in Springfield, Missouri.

After the Bears forced a second-half comeback to tie the game, the third-ranked Jackrabbits pulled away late to win their Missouri Valley Football Conference opener. With the win, SDSU now improves to 12-1 all-time against the Bears

In the first half, SDSU marched down the field on the first drive of the game for 37 before kicker Hunter Dustman missed a 50-yard field goal to keep the score 0-0.

Quarterback Mark Gronowski put the first points of the day on the board with a 3-yard pass touchdown to senior receiver Jadon Janke after taking the offense 92 yards down the field in 10 plays. Janke finished the game with 102 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.

The Jackrabbits went scoreless on their next four drives of the first half. In that time, they punted the ball twice and missed two more field goals by Dustman with one from 35-yards out and one from 44-yards out. SDSU ended the half leading 7-0.

In the first drive of the third quarter, Missouri State quarterback Jason Shelley drove the Bears down to South Dakota State’s 10-yard line before throwing an interception to Jacks safety Colby Huerter who broke away from the Bear’s offense before finally going down at the 25-yard line of Missouri State.

Four plays later, Gronowski put the Jackrabbits on the board again with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Janke to put SDSU up 14-0.

After being down by 14 points, the Bears started to gain momentum later in the second half. They moved 71-yards down the field on their next drive and scored a 15-yard rushing touchdown from tailback Jacardia Wright to cut the lead in half.

After a punt by the Jackrabbits, Shelley threw a deep ball to his wide-open receiver, Raylen Sharpe, for a 67-yard touchdown, making the score 14-14. The Bears got the ball right back after the Jacks failed to convert a 4th and 1 play. But they could not capitalize on the turnover on downs, and they gave the ball back to SDSU.

The Jackrabbits’ next score of the game was a 21-yard touchdown to tight end Zach Heins, giving SDSU the lead back.

The Jacks scored one final time by a pass to Jadon Janke, who tip-toed on the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown making the score 28-14.

Desperate trying to stay in the game, Bear’s quarterback Jason Shelley forced a pass to the end zone late, and it was intercepted by safety Matthew Durrance to end the game.

Gronowski was efficient all game, finishing 22-29 for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Isaiah Davis was SDSU’s leading rusher with 85 yards on 20 carries. Amar Johnson finished with 44 rushing yards on seven attempts.

Heins led in receiving with 127 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown. Jadon Janke caught two touchdown passes and had 102 yards receiving on eight catches. Jaxon Janke caught six balls for 83 yards and a touchdown.

For the Bears, Shelley finished 19-29 for 185 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions and was pressured by the Jackrabbit defense throughout the game. He also finished with 32 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Wright ran the ball 13 times for 63 yards and a touchdown to lead the team in rushing. Jordan Jones led the team with four receptions and finished with 43 yards receiving.

The Jackrabbits outgained Missouri State in total yards, 475-258.