Jacks stay hot on Hobo Day

The No. 7 South Dakota State Jackrabbits are atop the Missouri Valley Conference after coming off a 24-10 win over the previously No. 12 Youngstown State Penguins. The Jacks are now 5-2 on the season and are in first place in the conference.

The Jackrabbits will look to make five-straight wins as they travel to Normal, Illinois, for a showdown with the Illinois State Redbirds, who come into the game with a record of 3-5, and have lost five of their last six.

In the Hobo Day game against Youngstown State, the Jackrabbits ran out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back. 

Junior tight end Dallas Goedert caught a 61-yard pass on the first play of scrimmage to set up a two-yard rushing touchdown from junior running back Brady Mengarelli. Freshman linebacker Christian Rozeboom intercepted a pass and returned it to the four-yard line to set up a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion to senior wide receiver Connor Landberg.

“It was a tremendous start, take the points any way you get them,” Stiegelmeier said. “It seemed easy, but Youngstown State is a good football team.” 

 A new school record of 17,730 people attended the game at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

“It’s tremendous and it was homecoming, so you hope you get some people back,” Stiegelmeier said on his radio show.

In the win over the Penguins, the Jackrabbits out-rushed the top-rushing team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and scored the very first rushing touchdown of the year against the stout defense. 

The offensive line performed particularly well against the Penguins, only allowing them to get to Taryn Christion twice for sacks. 

“Our offensive line is playing phenomenally,” Stiegelmeier said. 

The defense continued their impressive form with six sacks against Youngstown State. They also only gave up 311 total yards of offense and caused two turnovers.

After the big win, Stiegelmeier celebrated with his players by dancing in the locker room.

“That was a weak moment,” Stiegelmeier said with a laugh. “But I hope to do more this week.” 

Now, it’s on to Illinois State. It will be much the same as the prior matchups this season when the Jackrabbits played some of the best defenses the Missouri Conference has to offer. The Redbirds have the second-best pass defense in the MVFC. 

The Jackrabbits will look to get their tandem of Goedert and junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke going again as Wieneke was held in check with five catches and 33 yards against Youngstown State. Goedert was held without a touchdown in a game for the first time this season, but had six receptions and 108 yards. 

Mengarelli scored his first touchdown of the year against the Penguins and will look to keep that momentum going against the Redbirds. 

The Jackrabbits will look to continue their improvements on defense and shut down the Redbirds, who have the lowest scoring offense in the conference. 

Sophomore quarterback Jake Kolbe leads the Redbirds offense and averages 230 yards per game in the air for the Redbirds. 

Anthony Warrum, senior wide receiver for Illinois State, averages 78 yards per game and also averages four receptions per game. 

While the Redbirds offense is only averaging 22.8 points per game, the defense is giving up 23 points per game. 

The defensive line for the Redbirds is led by junior defensive linemen Adam Conley, Dalton Keene and sophomore Matt Swaine. 

Senior linebackers Alejandro Rivera, B.J. Bello and Brent Spack lead the Redbirds in tackles.

Illinois State has defeated an FBS opponent this year, as they beat Northwestern Wildcats by a score of 9-7. 

Junior defensive lineman Kellen Soulek, the Yankton native, won Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Week honors as he had two sacks, five tackles and a broken-up pass.