Season opener ends with SDSU loss, Sumner injured

The Jackrabbit’s first-ever meeting with an SEC team, left them winless and without their starting quarterback.

 The Cotton Bowl champion and 24th–ranked Missouri Tigers handled SDSU by a final of 38-18 Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field in front of 60,589 fans, dropping the Jacks to 0-1 in their season opener.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game came late in the first quarter when fourth year starting quarterback Austin Sumner twisted his right ankle in the turf after bouncing outside to his left scrambling with the football. Sumner is scheduled to miss 6-8 weeks, meanwhile, sophomore and second-string quarterback Zach Lujan of Anchorage, Alaska replaced Sumner.

“I was happy with what Zach was able to do. I was happy with the way we responded,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “Now, that’s tempered by the feeling of losing a game that I thought – had some plays – we would have been able to scare them at the end, which was what our goal was.”

In the game’s first minute, both teams scored in firecracker fashion. Mizzou’s Maty Mauk hooked up with wide receiver Darius White for a 44-yard touchdown splitting the safeties on a deep bomb down the middle of the field. 

The Jackrabbits would answer immediately on their first drive of the game on a busted play resulting in Zach Zenner racing 75 yards for a touchdown from scrimmage. After two more touchdowns by Mizzou in the first quarter, the Jacks leveled off on defense making six stops in a row and pulling within three points in the beginning of the third quarter.

“It was just big plays, the first drive we were just a little jittery, even the second one it was just – we just didn’t finish sometimes,” starting linebacker T.J. Lally said. “The game plan was awesome. I was really excited about it going in and thought that showed for most of the game.”

A Justin Syrovakta 39-yard field goal late in the second-quarter ended the first half. A 10-play drive early in the third quarter resulting in a 3-yard touchdown run by Zenner capped off with a two-point conversion caught by Jason Schneider pulled SDSU within three of the Tigers, 21-18.

Then, Mizzou buried the Jacks on the following kick-off with a 100-yard kick return by Marcus Murphy, tugging momentum back to their side. SDSU came within striking distance on two occasions before committing turnovers. 

Despite gaining confidence as the game went on, Lujan found himself picked off in the endzone by the Tiger’s Aarion Pentonin with 8:55 left in the third quarter. Schneider also fumbled the ball in the red zone following a 22-yard catch in the middle of the fourth quarter.

“Giving up basically two drives in the red zone – it’s tough to win when you do that,” Zenner said. “You put 14 more points on the board and it’s a different game.”

Tiger’s Mauk finished the game 13-21 passing for 178 yards and three touchdowns and Russell Hansbrough tallied a game-high 126 yards on the ground with 20 carries.

Zenner crossed the 100-yard mark for the 22nd time in his career, gaining 103 yards on 17 carries. Redshirt freshman Jake Wieneke tallied six catches for 107 yards in his collegiate debut. Lujan ended the game 21-28 passing for 239 yards. Sumner was 2-4 passing for seven yards prior to injury.

Lally led the SDSU defense with 11 tackles while Mizzou’s Markus Golden recorded 10 tackles with a pair of sacks to lead Missouri on defense.

SDSU will take on Cal Poly this Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.