Jackrabbits rally from 18-point deficit to overcome Bears.

The SDSU football team bounced back from their lopsided loss to Illinois State, coming back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Missouri State Bears 32-28.

Both teams entered the game with 3-2 records and having lost their first Missouri Valley Football Conference game.

The Jacks gained an early edge after forcing the Bears to punt within their own 20 yard line. Je Ryan Butler broke a 35-yard return to set up what would be a 36-yard field goal for Justin Syrovatka who has made a field goal in every game this season.

MSU countered, taking advantage of a short field after Ethan Sawyer’s 21-yard punt to drive 32 yards, capped off by a Calan Crowder three-yard touchdown run.

Having been held below 50 yards in the first quarter, the SDSU offense broke open in a big way early in the second quarter when on third and 12 Zach Lujan rolled out of the pocket and found Jake Wieneke open downfield and Wieneke took it the rest of the way for a 78-yard touchdown.

Things quickly turned downhill for the Jacks though as the Bears would score on back to back possessions, the second touchdown coming off Dylan Cole’s interception of Lujan.

The descent continued when Tyler Finnes replaced Lujan, who head coach John Stiegelmeier said he wanted to calm down, only to throw an interception on his second passing attempt, setting up another MSU touchdown, putting the Bears up 28-10.

Coming back into the game, Lujan led the Jacks to an answer as SDSU went 82 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lujan to Wieneke.

“To symbolically bench him [Lujan] for one series and to have him come back and play with the poise he did – he wasn’t perfect and nobody is – I’m really proud of him,” Stiegelmeier said.

After a third quarter that belonged to the defenses, the Jacks broke through in the fourth quarter when Lujan connected with Wieneke for third time and a successful two-point conversion brought the Jacks to within three points.

SDSU continued their offensive revival on the next drive, getting it to the 36 from where Zenner busted loose for 35 yards to set himself up for a one-yard touchdown run on the next play.

The Jackrabbits’ defense again rose to the occasion the following MSU drive. After the defense allowed a fourth and inches conversion, Melvin Taveras picked off Harris to give SDSU the ball on their own 40.

MSU managed to force an SDSU punt and began to drive down the field, but after breaching the SDSU 35-yard line, the Jacks stiffened, ultimately denying the Bears on fourth and eight to secure the victory.

“I believe in our players and I just believed we were going to win that football game,” Stiegelmeier said. “I don’t know if I felt we were the better team – I think that’s somewhat arrogant – but I think in that half we were the better team and I thought we deserved to win this game. … [defensive coordinator] Clint Brown made two really good calls at the end there.”

After being held to 56 yards in the first half, Zenner finished the day with 27 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Wieneke had a career day, catching eight passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Schneider also broke the century mark in receiving yards with 105 yards on seven receptions.

Defensively the Jacks held the Bears to 249 yards, only 80 of those yards coming in the second half.

“I thought defensively we were pretty happy with the way we were playing even when were down,” said linebacker T.J. Lally. “…We knew that if we kept playing that way we were going to eventually shut them down.”

SDSU next week travels to face the University of Northern Iowa Panthers who picked up their first conference win against USD on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18.