South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

SDSU starts conference play 1-0

Raena Visness
Running back Isaiah Davis scores a touchdown on the ground against UND. Davis finished the game with three rushing touchdowns.

South Dakota State improved to 4-0 on Saturday, taking down No. 11 North Dakota in dominating fashion, 42-21. 

In front of a sellout crowd of 19,231, the fourth-highest attendance in Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium history, the Jackrabbits proved once again that they deserve to be the No. 1 team in the FCS. 

UND won the toss and opted to give the ball to SDSU first, which proved a costly mistake as the Jackrabbits jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, with touchdown runs from quarterback Mark Gronowski and tailback Isaiah Davis.  

“I just had this feeling all day,” senior left guard Mason McCormick on the Jackrabbits quick start. “We were talking before the game and we just had a good feeling about it, and our coaches did a good job prepping us with our gameplan.” 

However, North Dakota bounced back after facing an early deficit and came back with a long, methodical 15-play drive that lasted over nine minutes, capping it off with a Quincy Vaughn one-yard touchdown. 

After cutting the lead to seven, the Jackrabbit offense followed up with an extensive nine-minute drive of their own, reaching the endzone for the third time of the half on a 6-yard touchdown reception to Jaxon Janke.  

Gronowski, who finished with 167 yards and a touchdown through the air, has now scored a rushing and passing touchdown in each of his last nine games dating back to last season. 

Going into halftime, it was very clear what was working for the Jackrabbits on offense.  

Keep feeding Isaiah Davis.  

SDSU came out of halftime, got an early stop, and the senior tailback from Joplin, MO punched in his second touchdown of the afternoon from three yards out. 

After forcing another UND three-and-out, the Jackrabbit offense was forced to punt for the first and only time of the day, which was followed by another North Dakota stop. 

Down by 21, UND was forced to punt to one of the best punt returners in the FCS this season, Tucker Large. On the initial punt, Large was wrapped up and had the ball stripped from his hands, but an inadvertent whistle gave SDSU another shot for a big return. 

“You got to replay the down, cause it’s an inadvertent whistle,” North Dakota head coach Bubba Schweigert on the controversial call. “that’s the rule.” 

On the replayed punt, Large broke free, wiggling past defenders for a 51-yard punt return which gave SDSU the ball deep into UND territory.  

One more Isaiah Davis touchdown would give the Jackrabbits a 28-point lead early in the fourth quarter.  

With the game seemingly over, UND scored a touchdown after an eight-minute drive, this one a touchdown pass from the quarterback Tommy Schuster to Luke Skokna.  

With just over five minutes to play, the Jackrabbits ended the day on a 50-yard rushing touchdown, this time from sophomore tailback Angel Johnson. 

The Fighting Hawks would score another touchdown, but it was too late as the Jackrabbits came away with a 21-point victory. 

The Jackrabbits scored on six of their eight offensive drives, with one of those two scoreless drives being the victory formation to end the game. 

SDSU outgained North Dakota by almost 200 yards, and the run game was a big reason why. The Jackrabbits finished with 266 rushing yards to just 68 for North Dakota. 

“We take pride in stopping the run,” coach Jimmy Rogers said. “It makes you one-dimensional and we were able to do that, I thought the defense was called really well.” 

Offensively, quarterback Mark Gronowski completed just 59% of his passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 22 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

In the backfield, it was Isaiah Davis who had a huge day, running the ball 16 times for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Davis now has 17 career 100-yard rushing games. To add, it’s also the fourth time in his collegiate career scoring three-rushing touchdowns in a game.  

One of the best running backs in the nation attributed his productivity on Saturday to the 605 Hogs and company. 

“Physicality is a way to describe it, you know they balled out all day,” Davis said. “It starts with practice and preparation. But it’s not just them, it’s a collective unit. Mark [Gronowski] doing his job, the receivers playing unselfish, laying their body on the line to make the blocks they can, were truly blessed here.” 

Angel Johnson finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on just two carries, while Amar Johnson added another 13 carries for 59 yards. 

In the receiving game, three players each caught three passes, with Jaxon Janke leading the way with 51 yards and a touchdown.  

Defensively, the return of Adam Bock proved to make a difference, as he recorded 10 tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss. Linebacker Isaiah Stalbird added another eight tackles, while Cade Terveer recorded the second sack of the season for the Jacks. 

“The gameplan was to shut down all of their funky formations, and different matchups that they like to do”, Stalbird said about the keys to stopping North Dakota. “Having last week and this week to compile all of that practice and get everything right.” 

For the Fighting Hawks, Tommy Schuster had 118 yards on 19-24 passing, with one passing touchdown. Gaven Ziebarth led the team in rushing with 22 yards on five carries, while Luke Skokna had four carries for 17 yards. 

Red Wilson was the leading receiver for UND, catching five passes for 45 yards. Bo Belquist caught four passes for 23 yards, and Luke Skokna had another three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. 

Malachi Buckner recorded 7 tackles defensively, while Malachi McNeal added another six tackles and one tackle-for-loss. 

The Jackrabbits now extend their longest win streak in school history to 18 straight and continue to climb the list of longest win streaks in college football history. With two more wins against Illinois State and Northern Iowa, SDSU would be tied for the tenth-longest win streak in FCS history. 

South Dakota State will travel to Normal, IL to play the Illinois State Redbirds on Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. The Jacks will be back at home on Oct. 14 to play the University of Northern Iowa for Hobo Days. 

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