Vinatieri kicks Jackrabbits into third round

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Actions at the football game between South Dakota State and Villanova. SDSU beat the Wildcats 10-7.

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits defeated the Villanova Wildcats 10-7 in a tightly contested battle, advancing to the third round of the FCS Playoffs.

It was a defensive struggle in Brookings as both teams’ defense showed up in full-force. The Jackrabbits’ much-improved defense stayed strong this week, only giving 321 total yards.

Special teams proved to be the decisive component in the Jackrabbits’ victory.

Chase Vinatieri sent the Jackrabbit fans home happy as he converted a 40-yard field goal attempt into the wind, to give the South Dakota State squad the lead with 1:15 left.

“Just do my job, make the kick, that’s all I could do,” Vinatieri said of the kick in a post-game interview.

South Dakota State never trailed in the game despite struggling on offense. The Jackrabbits just compiled 197 yards, with 190 of them coming from the passing game. The yardage total for the Jacks was the season-low. On the ground, the Jackrabbits mustered just seven net yards on twenty carries.

“It was a little frustrating, I mean our job is to score points and that want we want to do and what we have done all year but I mean we played through it and put a drive together when we needed to,” said tight end Dallas Goedert.

Goedert, the Britton native, set up the game winning drive as he got a 33 yard pass to get the Jackrabbits at the Villanova 26-yard line. He had 92 yards on eight receptions and a touchdown.  

Goedert also became SDSU’s leading receiver on the year, with 87 receptions on the year.

“I actually did come and steal it, I didn’t know that I did at the time until I had the ball and I could catch it so I caught it,” Goedert said. “It was actually for Marquise Lewis.”

Villanova fielded the CAA Defensive Player of the year, in Tanoh Kpassagnon, but was held in-check as he only had one quarterback hurry. Kpassagnon was the player the Jacks concerned themselves with the most, but he only played one defensive sequence in the first since he was nursing a bad thumb.

Defensively, the Jackrabbits were led by the MVFC Freshman Newcomer of the Year, Christian Rozeboom who had thirteen tackles and six solo. Jesse Bobbit also had ten total tackles.

Cole Langer came up with a crucial sack in the fourth quarter, to force the Wildcats to burn their last timeout.

Brady Hale punted seven times for the Jackrabbits, which also proved to be crucial as much of the game was a battle of field position. Hale averaged 45.4 yards per punt. His longest was 61 yards and he pinned the Villanova Wildcats inside their 20-yard line three times.

“I thought Brady Hale, our punter, he did a phenomenal job in those conditions,” Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said in the post-game conference.

The Jackrabbits played a clean game — they never turned the ball over and only had one penalty for five yards.

Now the Jackrabbits will travel to Fargo, North Dakota for the third round of the FCS playoffs. This will be a rematch at the Fargodome, since the Bison defeated San Diego 45-7.

South Dakota State won the last matchup by a last-second touchdown to beat the top nationally-ranked Bison 19-17.

“The intensity will be even higher, if you can imagine that in that place (Fargodome), but we are excited to be there and we won’t take this for granted,” Stiegelmeier said.