One win closer to a conference chamioship

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Actions at the football game between South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota. SDSU won 28-21 over the Coyotes.

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits ran away from the South Dakota Coyotes Saturday night and defeated the instate rivals 28-21.

The Jacks have now won eight straight games against the Coyotes since 2000.

“It’s a big win [over USD] but we aren’t going to get too caught up in it,” said SDSU Head Coach John Stiegelmeier.

With the win, the Jacks improved to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. With a win over Northern Iowa next weekend the The Jacks would win the MVFC for the first time in school history. 

It would be the first conference championship for the Jacks since 2007, when they won the Great West Football Conference. That is SDSU’s only conference championship in the past 40 years. 

The Jacks are also playing for a chance to get a bye in the FCS playoffs, which is awarded to the top-eight teams in the country selected by FCS Playoff Committee. SDSU is No. 8 in the top-25 media poll.

SDSU proved able to get the victory against USD in a way they haven’t done all season — on the ground.

The Jacks ran for a total of 415 yards, which was a season-high and had four touchdowns on the ground. They came into the matchup averaging 143.6 rushing yards per game and usually relied on the passing game to carry them to victories.

The Coyotes limited the Jackrabbits to just 28 points and holding junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke and junior tight end Dallas Goedert both to under 50 yards and no touchdowns. USD held the Jacks to 215 passing yards, which is 113 yards fewer than their season average.

“I thought 28 would probably be a good number, obviously you got to stop the running game and they got too many big running plays,” said Bob Nielson, head coach for the Coyotes.

Junior Brady Mengarelli went for 161 yards on 21 carries and sophomore Isaac Wallace had 102 yards. It was Wallace’s second 100-yard game on the season, and the first for Mengarelli. Senior Kyle Paris also saw action in the game as he had ten carries for 74 yards. Sophmore quarterback Taryn Christion also ran for 79 yards on 12 carries.

“We had over 400 yards rushing — that’s crazy, credit to those guys. They’ve been working hard,” Christion said.

Defensively, the Jackrabbits held USD quarterback Chris Streveler, who came into the game as one the top rusher in the conference, to just 55 yards. Streveler was averaging 88.1 yards per game heading into the game.

The Jackrabbits will head south this weekend to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for a showdown with the Northern Iowa Panthers, who are 5-5 on the year and 4-3 in conference play.

All of the Panthers’ losses have been down to the wire, as their average margin of defeat is about four points.

In the last outing for the Panthers, they beat Western Illinois 30-24. Led by sophomore quarterback, Eli Dunne who had 209 yards on 19 completions for two touchdowns and an interception. Senior running back Michael Malloy had 19 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

For Northern Iowa, they have a defense that has been stout all year. They led the Missouri Valley in interceptions and passing defense. The Panthers only gave up 333 total yards to the Western Illinois Leathernecks, who have one of the better offenses in the Missouri Valley.

Defensively, the Panthers are led by senior defensive lineman Karter Schult who leads the conference with 16 sacks. Junior defensive back Malcolm Washington has four interceptions in seven games.

For the Jackrabbits, Mengarelli and senior Nick Carr won weekly conference honors. Mengarelli won MVFC Offensive Player of the Week and Carr won MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week.

The Jacks have gone by the motto “go 1-0 this week.” This week that 1-0 would mean a conference championship and Stiegelmeier knows how important that would be for SDSU. 

“I’m going to bring that up this week, because it’s our captains’ and seniors’ goal,” Stiegelmeier said.