No fly zone over Southern Utah

By: Justin Harned Sportswriter

South Dakota State solidifies their second victory of the season with a stout performance on defense.

Coach John Stiegelmeier penciled in career win No. 113 tying him with Ralph Ginn (113-89-9 record from 1947-68) for the most in program history as the Jackrabbits filed a 26-6 win against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds Saturday evening at Eccles Coliseum.

“I am honored to be the head football coach and be part of a bunch of staffs that have won that many games at South Dakota State,” Stiegelmeier said during the post-game press conference.

The Jackrabbit defense stifled SUU with three interceptions, shutting them out well into the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits have won five of their last six games against Big Sky Conference opponents and the No. 11-ranked Jackrabbits improve to 2-1 overall on the young season.

SDSU chewed up more than five minutes of the clock on their first drive, which resulted in a 13-play 75-yard drive and a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Reggie Gandy.

Momentum shifted in the Jacks’ favor when defensive lineman Shayne Gottlob intercepted a pass at the opponent’s 4-yard line resulting in a touchdown in the first play of the second quarter. Gottlob said the coaches called the perfect blitz for that situation. The Jackrabbits took a 14-0 lead over the Thunderbirds.

“Yesterday we were going through walkthrough and coach Brown threw me a few balls and I dropped them,” Gottlob said with a smile at the post-game press conference. “He [Brown] told me not to drop them anymore and so I think that was kind of part of it. But I have to be [thankful] for my wingspan as I was able to kind of just tip it, focus on it and bring it in. I was just glad to make a play for our defense.”

The defensive success continued with a standout performance from true freshman defensive back, Trey Carr, who intercepted a pass, recorded two tackles, two pass breakups and returned an interception on a PAT for two points to cap the game.

Carr wasn’t fooled when the Thunderbirds called a fake PAT – little more than five minutes remaining in the game. SUU coach Ed Lamb praised Carr after the game during the press conference – calling the sequence a brilliant athletic play by him. It was just the second time in the program’s history a PAT was returned for a score.

“I feel like I’m getting comfortable and loose and can be myself,” Carr said in the post-game press conference. “The coaches just prepared me – and all my teammates are preparing me, also.”

SDSU added to their lead in the first half, going up 21-0 at halftime when Zach Lujan connected with redshirt freshman Jake Wieneke on a fade in the right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. 

Walter Payton Award candidate Zach Zenner rushed for 140 yards with an average of 5.6 yards-per-carry. Backup running back Brady Mengarelli added 13 carries for 65 yards. Wieneke ended the game with three receptions for 68 yards and one touchdown.  Trevor Wesley led the Jackrabbit receivers with four catches for 40 yards.

The Jackrabbits will return home Saturday to take on Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the 48th annual Beef Bowl at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.