SDSU keeps playoff hopes alive

Zach Zenner and Jake Wieneke helped keep the Jackrabbit’s playoff hopes alive in Terra Haute, Ind. as SDSU battled back from a 9-7 first half deficit to defeat Indiana State 32-17.

The win pushes SDSU football to a 6-4 overall record on the year with a 3-3 record in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Indiana State falls to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the MVFC.

The final score can be misleading as SDSU faced some early adversity. A blocked punt resulted in a safety and the following free kick in a 3-yard Logan touchdown run, helping the Sycamore’s to their 9-7 halftime lead.

SDSU also missed some opportunities in the first half such as a Zach Zenner touchdown that was called back.

“We played well in the first half too,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “But everything came out and [we] played a great second half … I’m proud of the whole game, really.”

With the Jacks still down 9-7 midway through the third quarter, Wieneke caught a slant pass from quarterback Austin Sumner and took it 91 yards for a touchdown dodging defenders just squeezing into the right side of the end zone. The hookup tied the longest in program history, breaking the mark set exactly 28 years ago by Jeff Tiefenthaler.

With the touchdown SDSU took a 15-9 lead and never looked back.

Justin Syrovatka gave SDSU a two-possession lead with a 46-yard field goal that just stayed above the crossbar, 18-9. He has made a field goal in 12 straight games dating back to last season.

The following five plays would dash the hopes of the Sycamores. On a 3rd and 2 on the SDSU 38, Sycamore running back Buck Logan rushed 36 yards to the 2-yardline. Logan appeared to score a touchdown but the call was ultimately reversed. After an incomplete pass, SDSU linebacker Jesse Bobbit forced and recovered Logan’s fumble at the 2-yardline.

“[That was a] huge point in the game,” Stiegelmeier said.

After picking up 4 yards on a rush, Zenner busted through the Sycamore defensive line for a 94-yard touchdown run about a minute into the fourth quarter, increasing the Jacks’ lead to 25-9.

“That was vintage Zach Zenner,” Stiegelmeier said of Zenner’s 91-yard scamper to the end zone. “Give credit to the fat guys, because that was just a wedge-type play inside and Zach will always make a guy miss if he gets a head full of steam and he did. That was fun, because you grow used to that and it was fun to be able to see him do that today.”

Saturday marked the 29th time in Zenner’s career he has rushed for more than 100 yards. Zenner broke the MVFC record for most career touchdowns with 57 and tied Tom Koutsos for the league record with his 52nd career-rushing touchdown.

Zenner ended the day with 193 yards on 29 carries and four receptions for 26 yards. Wieneke recorded six receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns, the fifth time this season he has crossed the 100-yard mark.

The Jackrabbits take on Western Illinois next Saturday on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium for Military Appreciation Day.