Jackrabbits stomp Coyotes in South Dakota Showdown Series

MIRANDA+SAMPSON

MIRANDA SAMPSON

Trenton Abrego

Make it 10 straight wins in the South Dakota Showdown Series for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, who defeated the South Dakota Coyotes 49-27.

Judging by the first quarter, one might’ve thought there was going to be a shootout at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

Instead, the Jackrabbit defense made the necessary adjustments to shut down the run option on its way to a blowout and securing a top-eight seed in the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

The turning point came right before the second half, when Ryan Earith recorded a strip sack of South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons and took the ball inside the South Dakota 30-yard line.

It took just two plays for the Jackrabbits to find the end zone and push their lead to as much as 28 before the end of the first half. That’s the biggest lead that the Jackrabbits had.

Throughout the game, the Coyote defense was simply unable to slow the Jackrabbit offense.

“It felt really good to come out on senior night, play a full game and put up a lot of points on them,” senior quarterback Taryn Christion said in a post-game interview.

Despite running 53 plays, 45 fewer than USD, the Jacks out-gained the Coyotes by 50 yards.

It was the Pierre Strong, Jr. show on Saturday afternoon in Brookings.

Strong had 253 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. The three touchdown runs for Strong came from 30 yards, 46 yards and 73 yards.

“Got the best o-line in the Valley,” Strong said. “They open it up for me and I just make the same guy miss.”

Part of the reason why Strong was able to run past the Coyotes, was the conditions of the field. On Friday evening, Brookings received snow and rain which led to slippery and snowy conditions on the soy-based turf.

“That’s not very good weather conditions and that’s coming from a guy who coached in Duluth, Minnesota for a long time. The field was not good,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “Certainly it was the same for both teams but a big back like that it’s his kind of day,”

In the air, the Coyote secondary limited the effects of Taryn Christion and the passing game. Christion connected on 12 of his 22 attempts for 172 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, the Jacks stifled junior quarterback Austin Simmons and the Coyote offense. Simmons completed 34 passes on 58 attempts for two passing touchdowns and an interception.

Through the air, Simmons was without his favorite receiver, Dakari Allen. Instead, it was the Shamar Jackson showcase for the Coyotes. Jackson had 11 receptions on 14 targets for 111 yards.

Caleb Vander Esch also caused trouble for the Jackrabbit secondary and had 58 yards on six receptions.

Brett Samson and Connor Hermann each caught a touchdown for the Coyotes.

On the ground, the Coyotes were just unable to get the wheels turning. Simmons led the team with 79 rushing yards on 17 attempts and two rushing touchdowns.

Kai Henry was unable to break through the Jackrabbit defense and had 37 yards on 11 carries. It was the lowest total for Henry since the Oct. 27 game against NDSU, where he also ran for 37 yards.  

As a team, the Coyotes rushed for 150 yards.

In a rivalry game, there a number of times there was extracurricular events after the play was blown dead. In one instance, Mike Johnson was called and ejected for a hit on a defenseless-Adam Anderson.

“I am glad the way we play football, I am glad the way we take the field and do things, a couple of times we were out of control but I’m really proud of the way our team plays the game of football,” Stiegelmeier said.

Up next, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits will await the FCS Playoff Selection Show, where they will figure out their seeding. The Jacks are scheduled to earn a top-eight seed and a first-round bye, the question remains: what side of the bracket will they be in?

The selection show will be aired at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18.