Jacks defeat winless Western Illinois 34-10


Joclyn Haven

South Dakota State running back Isaiah Davis carries the ball in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game against Western Illinois Oct. 1. Davis rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns and was named conference player of the week.

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits took down the 0-5 Western Illinois Leathernecks 34-10 in an uneven contest at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and move to 4-1 (2-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) on the year.

Leading the charge for the Jacks was tailback Isaiah Davis who went for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 27 attempts for the night on his way to being named MVFC Offensive Player of the Week.

“You want that to happen for a player, but (Davis) is such a great team player,” coach John Steigelmeier said. “We know he can do it and he knows what he can do, and he finally got to do it today.”

Davis was just 18 yards short of breaking his single-game rushing record, in which he ran for 217 yards against the U.C. Aggies in the playoffs last season.

“I think we all knew it was bound to happen,” David said. “We got some good looks today, and we knew a couple of plays were just right there, and that was one cut or one block away from being a big play, and we showed out.”

SDSU would take the lead in the first quarter and wouldn’t give it up the rest of the game with a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Davis.

After forcing the Leathernecks to punt on their first drive, kicker Hunter Dustman brought the Jacks’ lead to 10-0 with a 27-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter.

Western Illinois would not remain scoreless for long after quarterback Clay Bruno marched them down the field, in range for kicker Mason Laramie to make the deficit only a touchdown.

With both teams exchanging punts after that, South Dakota State then used their momentum to march down the field 58 yards and score in nine plays on a touchdown run from quarterback Mark Gronowski, and the Jackrabbits went into halftime up 17-3.

In the third quarter, courtesy of an interception by DyShawn Gales, Dustman would make his final field goal of the day with a 25-yard kick.

The Jackrabbits extended their already big lead to 27-3 after Gronowski found senior wide receiver Jaxon Janke for a diving score. Janke finished the day with 94 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets and was the only Jackrabbit receiver to have more than 25 receiving yards.

Davis would lead SDSU back down the field, and he would almost score before he was pushed out of bounds after a 38-yard gain. However, on the next play, Davis found the end zone for the second and final time on the day from 12 yards out to push the lead to 34-3.

Western Illinois would score one last time after backup quarterback Henry Ogala found his wide receiver, Naseim Brantley, for what looked like a touchdown before Steven Arrell ripped the football out of his hands. Fellow receiver for the Leathernecks, Jay Parker managed to jump on the ball in the end zone for six.

SDSU finished the game with 458 total yards, with 188 coming from the air and 270 on the ground. Gronowski completed only 17 of his 33 passes (52%). However, Gronowski ended up finding nine different targets on the day.

“I think he was a little off and like I said on the radio, everybody has an off day,” said Steigelmeier.

For the Leathernecks, Bruno threw for only 10 completions on the day for 129 yards and an interception. Jaylen Reed led Western Illinois in the rushing game with just 22 yards in the game. Brantley was Bruno’s favorite target, going for 107 yards on nine targets.

Defensively for the Jacks, they proved to be a problem in the running game, allowing less than 60 rushing yards all game. Linebacker Adam Bock finished the game with 10 total tackles, eight of them being solo tackles. Along with Arrell, Caden Johnson also forced a fumble which was recovered by Deaton Mcgaughy.

In the 60-minute football game, the Jackrabbits had control of the football for 41:26 seconds while Western Illinois only had it for 18:34 seconds.

South Dakota State Football returns to Dykhouse Stadium Oct. 8 to take on their in-state rival, the University of South Dakota Coyotes at 2:00 pm.