Jacks stand tall

Logan Meyer Sports Reporter

While playing spoiler isn’t something the Jackrabbits are used to, that’s exactly what they did for Kansas Coach David Beaty. Following their first win over an FBS opponent since moving to Division I, the South Dakota State Jackrabbit football team was fired up—with cheers that continued to the locker room—and finished with a breakdown of “Go Jackrabbits!” 

Even Head Coach John Stiegelmeier had some strong words to describe the victory. 

“It is a historical victory,” Stiegelmeier said. “It puts SDSU and SDSU football on the map a bit more.” 

Following the win, the Jacks vaulted five spots from 15th to 10th in the FCS Coaches’ Poll, and also received one first-place vote.

It’s safe to say a strong outpouring of offense (463 yards total) helped the Jackrabbits make the Jayhawks the third school in a Power Five conference to lose to an FCS school more than once since 2010. 

At quarterback, the Jackrabbits went with junior Zach Lujan who finished the game with 293 passing yards, and completed 17 of his 33 passing attempts. Lujan also threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Coach Stiegelmeier said of Lujan, “I thought Zach played well, but can and will play better.” 


The Jackrabbits were led in the rushing department by freshman Isaac Wallace, who ran for 118 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Sophomore Brady Mengarelli also aided the rushing efforts with 69 yards and a trip across the goal line on 10 carries. 

As for the passing game, it was no surprise that the Jacks leaned heavily on sophomore Jake Wieneke. Wieneke, who was tabbed an FCS Preseason First Team All-American, finished the bout against the Jayhawks with a game-high 160 yards receiving and two scores on eight receptions. Stiegelmeier praised the performance of Wieneke, saying, “I thought Jake played really well.” The Missouri Valley Football Conference also took note, honoring Wieneke as co-MVFC Player of the Week. Wieneke posted the eighth 100-yard receiving game of his career.

Sophomore Dallas Goedert also recorded a pair of grabs, including one that was key in converting a fourth down attempt late in the fourth quarter that kept the chains moving and set up a Wallace three-yard score that put the Jacks up by 10. 

A late Kansas score pulled the Jayhawks back within three, but they would be their own undoing, fumbling a snap near midfield after a long pass completion, allowing time to run out and cementing the Jacks’ upset. 

Saturday’s contest did not fall short in excitement. There were a few exciting plays made by several different Jackrabbits. A first quarter interception and return of 53 yards by junior Dallas Brown got things going early, before the Jacks raced out to a 17-7 first quarter lead. A forced fumble by SDSU junior Nick Mears and recovery by junior linebacker Jesse Bobbit in the second quarter also proved to be costly for the Jayhawks. However, Goedert made the most important play of the game in a crucial spot, after converting the aforementioned fourth down attempt that set up the final Jackrabbit score.  Additionally, a back-of-the-end-zone, toe-tapping grab by Wieneke made himself a case for a spot on SportsCenter’s highlight reel. 

As for what the Jackrabbits need to work on for the next week of the season, Stiegelmeier had a few areas he would like to see improvement in.

“Tackling, pass blocking and conditioning,” Stiegelmeier said. “We were spent.”

Next, the Jackrabbits will play their home opener on Sept. 12 against Southern Utah, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings.