Jacks football team looks to bounce back in MVFC opener

By ANDREW HOLTAN Sports Editor

The South Dakota State football team kicks off Missouri Valley Football Conference play Saturday, Oct. 1, when they take on the Western Illinois University Leathernecks at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium at 6 p.m. This will be the 14th match up between the two schools.

 The Jacks are ranked No.15 in the STATS FCS Top 25. 

They come into the game with a record of 1-2 and are coming off a 38-31 home loss to the Cal Poly Mustangs on Sept. 14. The Leathernecks are 3-0 under first-year head coach Charlie Fisher, and are now ranked No. 8 after a 28-23 win over FBS opponent Northern Illinois University.

SDSU gave up 601 yards against Cal Poly with 440 of them coming on the ground. The Mustangs ran the triple option and ran all over the Jackrabbits. The Jacks haven’t been able to stop teams through the air giving up 274.6 yards per game. They’ve also given up 41.7 points per game.

The Jacks offense has been a bright spot for them this season scoring a MVFC high 42.7 points per game and racking up 419 yards per game. They’ve done most of this through the air, averaging 290.3 yards per game. SDSU averages 128.7 yards per game on the ground but struggled against Cal Poly and only had 71 yards. The Jacks have also intercepted their opponent five times and have been 100 percent in the red-zone going 13 for 13.

WIU is coming off a game where they torched NIU for 315 yards. The Leathernecks also racked up 131 rushing yards. They average 444 yards per game on the offense, 253.3 of those coming through the air and 190.7 on the ground. 

The Leathernecks’ defense has complemented their offense this season, giving up only 21.3 points per game. They give up 481.7 yards per game, which is a lot, but have held their own in the red-zone, giving up just four touchdowns on nine attempts. WIU gives up 305.7 passing yards per game and 176 rushing.

The Jackrabbits are led on offense by junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke and sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion. The tandem has connected for seven touchdowns on the season. Wieneke has had back-to-back games with three touchdowns. 

With eight touchdowns this year, Wieneke has also set the record for most receiving touchdowns in a career at SDSU, passing Jeff Tiefenthaler who had 32 from 1983 to 1986. He leads the entire FCS in receiving touchdowns and is tied for the lead in the MVFC in receiving yards per game with 107.9

Christion has thrown for at least three touchdowns in each of the three games. He has 12 total touchdowns on the season with 10 of them coming through the air, which is the most in the MVFC and two on the ground. He is second in the MVFC in completion percentage at 69.2 percent and is third in yards per game with 269.7.

Junior tight end Dallas Goedert is the X-factor for the Jacks offense. He has 249 yards receiving and three touchdowns, including a one-handed touchdown grab against Drake.

The Leathernecks have stars of their own in sophomore quarterback Sean McGuire and wide receiver senior Lance Lenoir. They’ve only connected for one touchdown on the season but have racked up plenty of yards per game.

Lenoir is tied with Wieneke for the lead in receiving yards per game at 107.9. He also averages 6.3 receptions per game.

McGuire won Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 315 yards and a touchdown last week. He averages 253.53 yards per game and has four touchdowns on the season.

The Leathernecks are led on the defensive side by junior linebacker Brett Taylor, who has a team high 36 tackles. Taylor also has one of the two interceptions on the season for WIU.

The Jacks defense is led by senior linebacker Jesse Bobbit and freshman linebacker Christian Rozeboom. The duo have combined for 53 tackles and Bobbit has one interception.

The Jacks will be looking to avenge a 30-24 overtime loss to the Leathernecks in Macomb, Illinois in 2015.