No. 1 Jacks survive UNI on last-second field goal

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State football team managed to survive a scare Saturday in Cedar Falls against Northern Iowa, as the Jacks beat the Panthers 31-28 on a game-winning Hunter Dustman field goal.

Dustman’s last-second kick gave the Jackrabbits at least a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title and a guaranteed spot in the FCS playoffs.

“I Kind of just went numb, knowing like all the work we put in all season and now to punch our ticket (into the playoffs), Dustman said on how he felt after making the game-ending field goal.

With Just two seconds remaining on the clock, Dustman lined up for a 34-yard field goal to break the tie and win the game, but the kick missed wide left. Fortunately for Dustman, UNI wide receiver Sergio Morancy was called for a leaping penalty which gave him a second chance 8-yards closer. And this time he capitalized.

The no. 1 Jackrabbits move their record to 9-1 on the season and 7-0 in the MVFC. They are also on a 9-game win streak, tied for the longest streak in SDSU football history.

“We have confidence in our offense,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “We have gotten points with fewer seconds on, and this is a good football team. Northern Iowa is really good, so it was exciting to get down there and have a chance for a field goal.”

Dustman went 3-3 on the day with his longest from 45 yards out earlier in the game, his longest collegiate field goal.

The Jacks offense started the game slowly with only three points scored in the first quarter coming on a 23-yard field goal courtesy of Dustman.

UNI put their first points on the board early in the second quarter with a touchdown run of 34 yards by tailback Vance McShane. McShane finished the game with 62 yards and one score on eight carries.

SDSU quickly answered with a rushing touchdown from Isaiah Davis to put them back ahead 10-7. Davis finished the game with 105 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. The touchdown scored by Davis put him tied for 10th place on SDSU’s all-time rushing touchdowns list with 26.

The Jackrabbits would score two more times in the first half, one coming on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mark Gronowski to Jadon Janke and the other coming from Dustman with a 45-yard field goal. Janke’s touchdown catch was his only reception of the game. Gronowski threw for 263 yards in the game with one touchdown and one interception.

The Panthers would score one more time in the first half with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Theo Day to Desmond Hutson. By halftime, the Jackrabbits led 20-14. Day finished the game throwing 30 passes with 16 completions, 270 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Amar Johnson would bring the SDSU lead to 28-14 after a rush into the endzone untouched. The Jacks would add a two-point conversion with a Gronowski pass to Davis. Johnson put up 39 yards and a touchdown in the game on 11 carries.

Northern Iowa would fight back with two unanswered touchdowns. One came in the third quarter on a 21-yard touchdown catch by Logan Wolf to pull within a touchdown. The Panthers then tied the game in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run from Day.

SDSU tight end Tucker Kraft went for 69 yards on four receptions in his third game back from injury. Jaxon Janke also finished with four receptions but with 60 yards.

With the two interceptions on the day from Cale Reeder and Chase Norblade. SDSU has gone every single game this season with at least one interception.

Jason Freeman led the jacks defensively with six total tackles, followed by Malik Lofton with four. Caleb Sanders picked up three sacks on the night along with a sack coming from both Freeman and Cade Terveer.

South Dakota State will play their last game of the regular season at 2:00 p.m. Nov. 12th at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium for Senior Night against the 5-4 Illinois State Redbirds.