‘This one’s on me…’

LOGAN MEYER Sports Reporter


For only the 38th time in 102 contests, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits suffered a defeat on Hobo Day—one of the most prolific homecoming merriments in America. Just the same as the two previous years, the Jacks fell by three points on their homecoming—but this year it was at the hands of the 22nd-ranked UNI Panthers. Northern Iowa notched its 29th win in the all-time series with SDSU, and it did so in a nail-biting fashion.

“We played well enough to win, but I don’t think I coached well enough to win,” said SDSU Head Coach John Stiegelmeier. “Like I told the players, this one’s on me. They played their hearts out.”

Zach Lujan, the junior quarterback that has missed the last two games due to injury, was re-inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday, but was only on the field for two offensive series. The third offensive series saw freshman Taryn Christion take over under center, but not much was going on offensively. In fact, the game remained scoreless throughout much of the first half. Northern Iowa put the first tally of the game on the board, and it came via a 24-yard field goal by Michael Schmadeke with 2:43 remaining in the second quarter. The scoring drive by UNI was the first time either team was able to get much going on the offensive side, but Northern Iowa quarterback Aaron Bailey made that seem irrelevant. On a drive that began at their own 2-yard line, Bailey contributed a 41- yard run that put the Panthers in great field position and allowed them to capitalize. The Panthers took a 3-0 lead into the half, and felt they were sitting pretty.

The second half was a different story, however. On their second drive of the third quarter, the Jackrabbits put together a convincing drive that had them threatening to score in the Panther red zone. On that drive, Christion connected with sophomore standout Jake Wieneke for a 41-yard completion and had the Jacks right where they wanted to be. Christion was able to cap off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior Connor Landberg. That score made it 6-3 in favor of SDSU, but was quickly moved to 7-3 after the successful extra point by kicker Jay Carlson.

The Panthers wasted no time in responding to the pulse of the Jackrabbit offense, taking the ball 79-yards (15 via penalty) and punching it into the end zone to put the Panthers back on top. Bailey took the ball in on a 35- yard scramble up the middle that made the score 10-7 in favor of UNI—and they would never look back.

Following a solid defensive stand by the Jackrabbits forcing a turnover on downs at the SDSU 22 yard line, the Jacks found themselves in a similar situation later on in the fourth quarter. The Jacks were faced with a 4th-and-1 from the UNI 10-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game, and SDSU took a gamble. Instead of choosing to kick a makeable field goal that would have likely pushed the game to overtime, the Jackrabbit coaching staff smelled victory.


The Jackrabbits handed the ball off to junior Kyle Paris to get the measly yard to keep the drive alive, but were stuffed by UNI’s Tim Kilfoy to all but slash any chance of an SDSU victory. Bailey scrambled for a first down on the ensuing drive, and secured possession and the ability to run out the clock on the Jackrabbits.

“In my heart, I felt we were going to win this football game in the end, and that meant not overtime,” Stiegelmeier said. “Again, we can second guess everything, but this one’s on me.”

The ending, quite fitting for how the day went, ended with a Bailey rush—just one of 23 attempts on the day, and he finished with 169 yards on the ground. For SDSU, Christion led the rushing attack with 16 carries for 61 yards. He also completed 15-of-20 passes, accounting for 156 yards through the air. As per usual, Wieneke led the team with four catches for 85 yards.

Defensively, the Jacks were led in tackles by junior linebacker Jesse Bobbit with 10—tying the game high. Defensive captain and senior linebacker T.J. Lally recorded eight tackles in the contest.

The Jackrabbits will next hit the road on October 31, traveling to Missouri State to take on the Bears. Kickoff for that matchup is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Springfield, Missouri.