Jackrabbits blow past Duquesne, advance to quarterfinals

Landon Dierks

Blowing snow and below-freezing temperatures did little to slow down the fifth-seeded South Dakota State football team in its 51-6 win over Duquesne Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

SDSU blanked Duquesne for more than two quarters and earned a spot in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal round.

Senior quarterback Taryn Christion had a rough afternoon passing, going just 12-of-26 for 144 yards and one touchdown.

Instead, it was the rushing attack that picked up the slack in the snow. As a team, SDSU rushed for 326 yards.

“All week we anticipated the weather to be bad,” Tyler Weir, senior offensive tackle, said. “So we knew that we’d have to run the ball well to get the job done today and I think we did that.”

Junior running back Mikey Daniel led the way for SDSU. The Brookings native recorded a career-high 100 yards on the ground and found the end zone twice on the afternoon.

“I’m really proud of what Mikey did today,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “He doesn’t get to play as much as Pierre [Strong Jr.] and when he got his chance he responded really well.”

Duquesne’s fortunes in the running game didn’t quite match up to SDSU.

Just as they did last season, the Jackrabbits neutralized Duquesne’s leading rusher, junior A.J. Hines. The Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Year was held to 21 yards on 10 carries.

“It means a lot (to have a performance like that),” SDSU redshirt freshman defensive tackle Krockett Krolikowski said. “We prepared a lot through the week to stop their run because they’re a heavy run team.”

The turning point in the game came in the second quarter.

With SDSU leading 7-0, redshirt freshman receiver Isaiah Hill took his first career carry on a reverse and scampered 23 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the quarter to extend the lead to 14 points.

Later in the quarter, Duquesne looked poised to cut into the Jackrabbit lead as it drove the ball to midfield, but a gamble to try and convert on fourth-and-short did not pay off for the Dukes as the Jacks took over possession after a turnover on downs.

The Jacks didn’t take long to capitalize on the Duquesne miscue.

SDSU redshirt freshman running back Pierre Strong Jr. took a handoff on the first play of the ensuing drive 52 yards for a touchdown to extend the SDSU lead to 21-0.

A quick three-and-out by the Duquesne offense gave the ball back to the Jacks and allowed Chase Vinatieri to tack on a 39-yard field goal just before halftime.

It was the Dukes who struck first after the break. Junior quarterback Daniel Parr ran in from three yards out just over a minute into the third quarter after a 68-yard completion set up the Dukes inside the SDSU 10-yard line.

“I thought we had a little momentum there,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. “When you play good teams like this they’re going to shut that down right away.”

That was about all that went right for the Dukes in the second half.

Despite finding the end zone for the first time in his collegiate career, the night for Hill didn’t end there. Hill recorded his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon on as many attempts with 6:37 remaining in the quarter.

Just over half a minute of game time later, junior running back Mikey Daniel hurdled a defender on a 27-yard touchdown run one play after an SDSU interception return set up the offense with good field position.

Junior cornerback Zy Mosley scored the third Jackrabbit touchdown in under four minutes of game time with a 43-yard pick six that left SDSU up 44-6 after three quarters of play.

Stiegelmeier was pleased with his team’s effort during the stretch to put the game out of reach.

“Football is a game of momentum,” he said. “Surely we took a lot of momentum away from (Duquesne)… any time you do that it affects your opponent and gets you motivated.”

Daniel’s second score of the day capped off the scoring in the lopsided victory.

It’s on to the quarterfinal round for the Jackrabbits.