Jacks v. ‘Yotes: SDSU looks to break two-game skid to rival USD

Cooper Kanthak, Sports Reporter

It’s rivalry week for the South Dakota State football team as they welcome the University of South Dakota Coyotes Saturday at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at 2 p.m. for the South Dakota Showdown Series. 

The Jacks lead the all-time series with a record of 29-23-1 since 1950. USD, however, has won the past two matchups including last year on a last-second Hail Mary pass in Vermillion. Before that, SDSU was on a nine-game winning streak.

SDSU is coming off of a 34-10 win Oct. 1 against Western Illinois. Running back Isaiah Davis led the Jacks in rushing with 199 yards on 27 attempts and two touchdowns. Quarterback Mark Gronowski threw for 188 yards and had one passing touchdown. The Jacks improved to 4-1 and 2-0 in conference play.

“It was good to get a win against Western (Illinois),” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I thought, for the most part, that all three phases played well enough to get a win.”

USD has an overall record of 1-3 and a conference record of 0-1. They had a bye week this past weekend and before that played host to NDSU, where they fell 34-17. The Coyotes held the lead against the Bison going into halftime but came up short in the second half.

Here’s what to know about each team heading into Saturday’s matchup.

About South Dakota State: 

The Jacks have won four games in a row and have started Missouri Valley Conference play 2-0 with wins over Missouri State and Western Illinois. 

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

Starting left guard Mason McCormick was honored this past week with the Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week award as he helped SDSU gain 458 total yards of offense last week against Western Illinois. Davis was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week, as well. 

Gronowski leads the team in passing, completing 59% of his passes with 983 passing yards and nine touchdowns.  

The rushing attack is led by Davis with 101 attempts for 534 yards and two touchdowns. Gronowski also has 121 yards rushing with four touchdowns on the season. 

The Janke twins lead the team in receiving. Both have three receiving touchdowns, with Jaxon having 22 catches for 258 yards and Jadon having 17 catches for 242 yards. Tight end Zach Heins has chipped in 13 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. 

On the defensive side, the Jacks are led by linebacker Adam Bock, who has 43 total tackles with 27 solo tackles. SDSU has six interceptions on the year, all by a different player. The defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks nine times. Reece Winkelman and Max Baloun each have two apiece.

“We’re excited about the game, the rivalry, and we’re excited to get (USD) here in Brookings,” Stiegelmeier said. “We’ve been blessed with really great attendance, and I know it’s a big game for both of us.”

About South Dakota: 

The Coyotes started the year at Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, where they lost 34-0. Their next game was against Montana, where the Coyotes lost 24-7. The Coyote’s lone win on the season came against Cal Poly Sept. 17 with a final score of 38-21.

The USD offense is averaging 15.5 points per game. They are led by quarterback Carson Camp who is completing 58% of his passes. He has a touchdown/interception ratio of four to three and 733 passing yards. 

Running back Travis Theis leads the Coyotes in rushing with 321 yards on 65 attempts. He also has three rushing touchdowns. Shomari Lawrence is second on the team with 35 attempts for 210 yards. 

Wesley Eliodor leads the team in receiving touchdowns with two. He is also first in yards with 175. JJ Galbreath and Jack Martens also have over 100 yards receiving. 

The defense has four players with 30 or more tackles. Stephen Hillis leads the team with 39 total while Brock Mogensen, Myles Harden and Dennis Shorter each have 30 or more tackles on the season. Harden leads the team with three interceptions. Linebacker Michael Scott leads the Coyotes with three sacks. 

“You love rivalry games,” Stiegelmeier said. “We don’t want to get caught up in it and forget the preparation though.” 

Up Next:

SDSU will head to Fargo next weekend as they take on North Dakota State in the Dakota Marker game at 2:30 p.m.