Jacks prepare for rematch against North Dakota State


Dakota Marker Game

By TRENTON ABREGO Sports Reporter

History is not on the side of the Jackrabbits as they prepare for tomorrow’s game against North Dakota State University.

This game is the third game of the FCS playoffs and a rematch of the Dakota Marker rivalry game and a matchup that will see the Missouri Valley co-champions square off. 

South Dakota State and North Dakota State were awarded the honor of Missouri Valley Champions, but South Dakota State owned the head-to-head tiebreaker as they beat the Bison last time in Fargo by a score of 19-17.

In the last contest, the Jackrabbits found offensive success in both running and throwing the football. The Jacks had 220 rushing yards and 303 passing yards as team, but were spotty in the red zone as they only converted on their chances three out of six times. The play calling for the Jackrabbits was aggressive as they went for six first downs but only converted on two of them.

The defense for the Jackrabbits was an impressive unit, which kept the Bison’s offensive game in check. Easton Stick was held to 143 yards passing but had 92 yards and a touchdown on the ground on his twelve attempts. The momentum for the Bison was quickly lost when King Frazier fumbled the ball and the Jackrabbits recovered and marched down for a touchdown.

Prior to the win in October, the Jackrabbits weren’t victorious in Fargo since 2008, but they will need to win in Fargo twice this year to prolong their season.

Last week the Jackrabbits sneaked out a win against the Villanova Wildcats who fields one of the top defenses in all FCS. The high octane offense was held to just 190 yards, seven of them coming on the ground.

“Two things attributed to that, they ran a different scheme and the weather made the ground to be slippery but you got to give credit to them they are a good defense,” Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said about the offense in the win over Villanova.

The offense will have to step up in order to beat the Bison. While the Fargodome offers a hostile environment for opponents, there won’t be any concern about the weather, which affected some of the play against Villanova.

“Chris Klieman says it’s worth 7 (points) but that is only if you let it affect you,” Stiegelmeier said about the hostile crowd environment.

Defensively the jackrabbits will have to play the Bison just as tough they did last game, as the Bison are coming off a first-round in which they put up 299 yards on the ground.

The Jacks have been preparing for the game by inserting their practice facility with crowd noise to give the players an opportunity to imagine what the crowd will be like on Saturday afternoon.

The Jackrabbits have a chance to snap the 21-game-playoff streak against the Bison, but if the last matchup was any indication, it won’t be easy for the Jackrabbits to repeat a victory over their rival.

South Dakota State will want to protect the ball, eliminate the turnovers and keep the penalties at a minimum as the Bison come into the game with 23 turnovers in just 12 games. South Dakota State is the 10th least penalized team in the FCS, with an average just over four and a half penalties per game.

The Jackrabbits will be seeking their first 10-game winning season in program history.

The game will be televised on ESPN at 11 p.m.

“Every time the atmosphere is a blast up there, I enjoy it a lot so I’m really excited,” said Dallas Goedert in a post-game conference about the third round matchup with the Bison. “I think we match up really well against them, they’re a good football team, we’re a really good football team.”