Jacks’ head into game with Northern Iowa with longest win streak since 2004


Joclyn Haven

Cornerback DyShawn Gales in the Jacks’ 49-7 Hobo Day win over Indiana State in front of 19,041 fans at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The turnout was the third-most since the stadium opened in 2016.

Skyler Jackson, Co-Sports Editor

The South Dakota State football team is back on the road Saturday, as the Jackrabbits head to Cedar Falls to take on Northern Iowa.

The top-ranked Jackrabbits (8-1, 6-0 Missouri Valley Football Conference) rolled past Indiana State in their 49-7 win on Hobo Day, while UNI (5-4, 4-2) earned a dramatic 37-36 victory at No. 24 Southern Illinois.

With only two games left in the regular season, SDSU appears to be in top form after its most dominating performance, while the Panthers have won three-straight games and are fighting for an at-large playoff bid.

Saturday’s game will mark the 59th all-time matchup between the two schools, with UNI leading the series 33-23-2. It will also be the 19th matchup between veteran coaches John Stiegelmeier of SDSU and UNI’s Mark Farley, in his 22nd season with the Panthers. Farley leads that matchup 11-7.

The last time these two teams met was on Hobo Day last year when UNI walked away with a 26-17 win. The Panthers have won two of the last three matchups with SDSU, including a 13-10 win in the FCS playoffs in 2019.

Here’s what to look for on each team heading into Saturday’s matchup.

About South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits have won eight games in a row since their week one loss to Iowa. That streak is tied for the longest in the country, along with Holy Cross, Jackson State and Sacramento State.

After two come-from-behind road victories against North Dakota State and North Dakota, the Jackrabbits returned to Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium for their Hobo Day matchup with Indiana State. In that 49-7 win, SDSU scored touchdowns on each of its first seven possessions.

The Jackrabbits are averaging 31.4 points per game offensively this season, and they scored 49 points in each of their last two games.

Quarterback Mark Gronowski is completing 64.3% of his passes this season, along with 1,701 yards and 16 touchdowns with only three interceptions.

Gronowski is also the team’s third-leading rusher with 224 yards to go with his seven rushing touchdowns this season.

SDSU’s running attack consists of the one-two punch of Isaiah Davis and Amar Johnson. Davis has 793 yards and eight touchdowns on 137 carries. Johnson has 429 yards and three touchdowns on 78 carries as he’s become a more vital part of the offense.

The Janke twins have been SDSU’s leading receivers. Jaxon Janke leads the team with 476 yards and five touchdowns, while Jadon has 447 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite dealing with injuries this season, including all-American linebacker Adam Bock, the defense has stepped up. They rank fourth in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing only 15.1 points per game.

The defense also has 18 total turnovers this season, and they have intercepted a pass in all nine games. Colby Huerter, Dalys Beanum, Cale Reeder and DyShawn Gales each lead the team with two interceptions.

“Their maturity continues to impress me in terms of how they handle things,” Stiegelmeier said. “From being number one to being on the road, all those things. So we look forward to trying to play our best football at UNI.”

About Northern Iowa

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for the Panthers. They began the season with three straight losses. UNI has since turned things around, winning three games in a row and five of its last six to put themselves back in playoff contention.

Last Saturday against Southern Illinois, the Panthers walked away with their most dramatic win of the season. In that game, an attempted SIU Hail Mary pass fell one yard short of the end zone, and the Panthers narrowly escaped with the 37-36 win.

“It was pretty dramatic,” Farley said. “But the fun part about the whole thing was when it’s over, you look back on how we persevered, and how we went into that football game. Very pleased with our football team on how they held their composure.”

Offensively, the Panthers are averaging 30.8 points per game, good for third in the MVFC behind only NDSU and SDSU.

Quarterback Theo Day is completing 65.8% of his throws this season, along with 2,471 yards and 19 touchdowns to four interceptions. Dom Williams is UNI’s leading rusher with 632 yards and nine touchdowns. Vance McShane has 579 yards on the ground and one touchdown.

Sam Schnee leads the team in receiving yards with 630, and Deion McShane is second with 467. Sergio Morancy leads the Panthers in receiving touchdowns with five this season.

On defense, the Panthers are fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26.4 points a game. Their leading tackler is Spencer Cuvelier with 77, while Korby Sander is second with 61.

The defense has intercepted eight passes this season.