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


Joclyn Haven
Jadon Janke catches a touchdown pass from Mark Gronowski in the Jacks’ last reular season game Nov. 18 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Janke finished with 10 catches for 187 yards.

South Dakota State University is set to take on the Mercer Bears at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium this Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

After receiving the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Jackrabbits received a first-round bye. Mercer on the other hand had to fight out Gardner-Webb to advance in their first playoff run in school history.

The first meeting between these two teams ever.


Carter Peevy will bring the Bears to Brookings for the second-round matchup. The redshirt sophomore has been impressive in his first year starting. Peevy has thrown for 2,209 yards while completing 66.67% of his throws for 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

The Georgia native has also seen success running the ball, amounting to 312 total rushing yards and 12 scores with a 75-yard touchdown run in their matchup against Gardner-Webb.

Mercer’s abilities on the field haven’t gone unnoticed in Brookings, South Dakota.

“This is a really, really talented team, they have speed at every level,” said head coach Jimmy Rogers. “Our hands will be full for sure and we have to play our best football.”

Though Peevy isn’t the only player finding his footing on the ground. Al Wooten II has been leading this Mercer offense in rushing yards this season with 702 on the year. The junior has amounted to six scores on the ground and two from the air.

Ty James, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award (award for the most outstanding offensive player) has been the go-to receiver for the Bears, putting up 1,102 receiving yards this season with seven touchdowns. James has averaged nearly 100 yards this season. The senior has the No. 2 spot in receiving yards in all of the FCS behind Monmouth’s Dymere Miller with 1,293, though James has 29 fewer receptions.

Fellow receiver Devron Harper has been a reliable second option for this Mercer offense, amounting to 536 yards and two scores on 53 receptions. Wooten II and Travion Solomon each have over 100 receiving yards as well.

On defense, the Bears are ranked No. 29 in total defense, only allowing 22.5 points per game.

Linebacker Ken Stanley leads the team in tackles with 89 total and has shown to be a force in the backfield, amounting to four sacks and 15 tackles for loss, totaling a loss of -68 yards. Stanley also is one of six Mercer defensive players with an interception.

Lance Wise Jr., safety for the Bears, has pulled in five interceptions so far this season, tied for No. 3 in the FCS and has 77 total tackles, second on the team. Wise Jr. is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the FCS.

Leading the Bears in both tackles for loss and sacks is defensive lineman Solomon Zubairu with nine sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. Zubairu also has 47 total tackles.


The Jackrabbits are fresh off a first-round bye and have their eyes set on Frisco. SDSU has two of the Walter Payton finalists on their Offense

with quarterback Mark Gronowski and tailback Isaiah Davis. Both players were also named Co-offensive Players of the Year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Jason Freeman, Amar Johnson, Gronowski, Garrett Greenfield Cade Terveer, Davis, Tucker Larger, Jadon Janke and Mason McCormick were all named to the MVFC All-Conference First-Team.

Mike Morgan, Zach Heins, Hunter Dustman, Gus Miller, Kaydon Olivia, Isaiah Stalbird, DyShawn Gales and Ryan Van Marel join their teammates on the MVFC All-Conference Second-Team.

“Huge congratulations to a lot of our guys on this team that are much deserving of the recognition,” said Rogers.

South Dakota State has been one of the most well-rounded teams in all the FCS, averaging 37.63 points per game while only allowing 11.27 points per game.

The Jacks have amounted to 2,419 yards on the ground and have the No. 9 spot for rushing offenses in the FCS.

Davis has been the guy for the SDSU rushing attack this season, racking up 1,086 rushing yards (12th in the FCS) and 11 rushing touchdowns (tied for 18th) on 162 attempts. Backups Amar Johnson and Angel Johnson each have four rushing touchdowns on the year while Amar Johnson has 597 yards and Angel Johnson has 278.

Gronowski joins the trio of running backs with 220 rushing yards of his own with seven touchdowns on the ground.

In the passing attack, Gronowski has been the most efficient quarterback in the FCS with a 184.08 passing efficiency grade. While completing 68.53% of his throws, the Illinois native has thrown for 2,359 yards (214.45 yards per game) along with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Janke twins have once again been Gronowski’s favorite targets, with Jadon leading the team in receiving yards (677 yards) and receiving touchdowns (eight receiving touchdowns) while Jaxon has 602 yards and three scores.

Freshman Griffin Wilde has pulled in 16 catches for 299 yards and five touchdowns with tight end Heins also bringing in five scores with 293 yards on 20 catches.

The Jacks walk into the playoffs with the No. 2 defense in the FCS, behind HBCU Florida A&M. Though South Dakota State has allowed one more yard than Florida A&M has, they have allowed seven fewer touchdowns.

Linebacker Freeman has been the guy on this defense, bringing in two interceptions, four tackles for loss and 72 total tackles, leading the team in that category.

Joining Freeman at the top is fellow linebackers Stalbird and Saiveon Williamson. Stalbird has 58 total tackles with four tackles for loss and two sacks with Williamson following closely with 53 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Tucker Large leads the Jacks with three interceptions while also bringing in 38 tackles. Defensive backs Gales and Dalys Beanum also have a pick of their own.

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Marshall Minihan, Sports Editor
Sports Editor Marshall Minihan is a junior at South Dakota State University and is from Canton, South Dakota. He majors in journalism and minors in communication studies and recreation administration.

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