Jacks Return Home

After an impressive win over No. 4 Missouri State, the Jacks continue Valley play against Western Illinois Saturday


Zoey Schentzel

Quarterback Mark Gronowski before a game against Butler Sept. 17 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Gronowski had his best game of the season Saturday in the Jacks’ 28-14 over Missouri State. Gronowski was 22-for-29 passing for 319 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 20 rushing yards.

Cooper Kanthak, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are back home this week as they take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1.

SDSU is coming off with a 28-14 road win against No. 4 Missouri State last weekend to move to a 3-1 overall record and 1-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Western Illinois is coming off with a 52-17 loss to Northern Iowa. They are winless this season at 0-4 and are 0-1 in conference play. 

The Jacks hold a 12-5 all-time record against the Leathernecks and have won the past four matchups, outscoring the Leathernecks by a combined score of 190-65 in those games.

Here is what to look for from each team. 

About South Dakota State: 

The Jacks are on a three-game winning streak after losing a close game against Iowa in week one. They bounced back to defeat No. 25 UC Davis, Butler and No. 4 Missouri State. 

SDSU is currently ranked third in the FCS Coaches Poll, behind only North Dakota State and Montana. 

“I thought we played really well in a lot of phases and I’m really proud of our football team,” coach John Stiegelmeier said about the Missouri State game.  

Coming off receiving MVFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, quarterback Mark Gronowski has improved over the last couple of games. Last week the sophomore led the Jacks to victory as he completed 22-29 passes for 319 yards and accounted for all four of the team’s touchdowns. 

In the season Gronowski is 62-101 passing with 795 yards and eight touchdowns. He has also been effective on the ground where he has three rushing touchdowns as well. 

Tight end Zach Heins had a career game last weekend, as he had seven catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. Heins has stepped up in the absence of all-American tight end Tucker Kraft, who has been out with an injury. 

Isaiah Davis leads the Jacks in rushing with 333 yards on 74 attempts. While Davis is still searching for his first touchdown of the season, he averages 79.8 yards per game.

SDSU has gotten help in the passing offense as 11 different players have recorded a catch this season. Jadon Janke leads the team in receiving with 16 receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns. 

On defense, SDSU is led by all-American linebacker Adam Bock, who leads the team in tackles with 33 total. The team has five interceptions and six sacks.

About Western Illinois: 

The Leathernecks are led by first-year coach Myers Hendrickson. They are 0-4 on the season after losing to the likes of UT Martin, Minnesota, Southern Utah and Northern Iowa.

Western Illinois is averaging only 15.5 points per game. They average 93 rushing yards per game and 218 passing yards.

Bruno Clay is the quarterback for the Leathernecks. He has struggled this season, completing 34-of-60 attempts for 386 yards while throwing for one touchdown and five interceptions. 

He is also the team’s leading rusher with 146 yards on 31 attempts with one touchdown. Running back Erin Collins is second with 28 attempts for 76 yards. 

Nasseim Brantley leads the team in receiving, catching 21 balls for 388 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns.

Western Illinois’s defense is led by sophomore linebacker Chase Graham, who has 34 total tackles with 20 solo tackles. 

The Leatherneck’s defense has forced three turnovers with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The team also has two sacks.

“They do a lot of stuff well on offense, they are a good football team and we’ll be ready,” Stiegelmeier said of Western Illinois. 

Up Next:

SDSU is back at home Oct. 8 as in-state rival South Dakota comes to town for the South Dakota Showdown Series at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at 2 p.m.