Bison Blitz

Not only did last weekend’s clash with North Dakota State University set a Coughlin-Alumni attendance record, it made history within the state of South Dakota—going down as the most heavily witnessed college football game in the state’s existence. A total of 17,348 people congregated in Brookings Saturday to see one of the most anticipated matchups on the FCS college football schedule this season: The Dakota Marker. 

Saturday’s Dakota Marker contest saw a nationally ranked, undefeated South Dakota State football squad take on a higher ranked North Dakota State team—and many thought with SDSU’s recent ascension in the polls that this may finally be the opportunity to take down an FCS elite. Despite all the hype, the Jackrabbits were only able to muster up one score throughout the entirety of the game, and fell 28-7. 

“Of course I’m frustrated!” South Dakota State Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said with a chuckle during the postgame press conference when asked his personal thoughts on the ongoing rivalry with NDSU. But that was about all the laughing that was done, as the Bison of North Dakota State dominated pretty much all night en route to their eighth straight win over the Jackrabbits. 

About midway through the opening quarter, a two-yard rush by King Frazier put the Bison up 7-0. Then, after a fairly uneventful first quarter, the second frame opened with another Bison score—a three-yard rush by NDSU’s Chase Morlock that extended the Bison lead to 14-0. This was about the time that the good feeling in the air kind of vanished, and Jackrabbit fans became anxious knowing any deficit would be difficult to make up against a stout NDSU team. 

After controlling possession for much of the second quarter, the Bison were able to punch in a score right before the half that made it a 21-0 game heading into the locker room.  

The second half proved to be much more interesting, especially for South Dakota State fans. Following an SDSU punt, NDSU quarterback Carson Wentz proceeded to take the ball 27 yards to the end zone on the ensuing drive and made it a 28-0 lead for Chris Klieman’s Bison. South Dakota State would then get the pigskin and finally begin to get somewhere, driving right down to the NDSU one-yard line. However, the Jacks were not able to cash in and turned the ball over to the Bison on downs after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. This sequence of events all but ripped the hearts out of the Jackrabbits, but they managed to keep fighting. 

The following drive, the Jackrabbits were able to force a fumble—and for a change there was new life. On the drive, the Jackrabbits marched right down the field before a 26-yard strike from quarterback Zach Lujan to tight end Dallas Goedert put the Jacks back in business, 28-7. In the final frame, the Jackrabbits were again able to recover an NDSU fumble, but weren’t able to capitalize and turned the ball back over on downs. 

There were many different areas, in which the Bison hurt the Jackrabbits, but the Bison pass rush disrupted Lujan’s rhythm and that gave NDSU the clear-cut advantage. “It all started with the lines,” Stiegelmeier said. “I said it earlier in the week—our lines would have to dominate, or at least match, and they didn’t.” 

Stiegelmeier was not hesitant to give NDSU credit where credit is due, knowing that his team was not the better one Saturday night. 

For the Jackrabbits, quarterback Zach Lujan finished with 242 yards passing on 19-of-38 attempts and a score. Senior Cam Jones led the Jackrabbits in receiving with 69 yards on four grabs. 

The Jackrabbits will return to action this weekend when they host the Sycamores of Indiana State. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday.