Return seals SDSU’s road rivalry win; Jacks play for playoff berth Saturday

By JUSTIN HARNED Sports Editor


 It was the ultimate roller coaster ride of emotions for SDSU who visited Vermillion in what was perhaps one of the most exuberant victories for the Jackrabbits yet, defeating the Coyotes 27-12 in the South Dakota Showdown Series.

Living week-to-week, the Jackrabbits (7-4, 4-3) have found another way to earn a win against USD (4-7, 3-4) keeping their playoff hopes alive. In winning their third straight game, the Jacks must face Youngstown State this weekend for continued hopes of a playoff berth.

“This is a sweet victory in Vermillion … They’re a special group of guys [USD] that we feel blessed to go to battle with all year,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “A great rivalry, a great environment for a football game and I think in a lot of ways an entertaining football game, bottom line we won, that’s our goal 1-0 [each week].”

SDSU never trailed the Coyotes in their first appearance back in the DakotaDome since 2003 but the drama was at full scale. The energy buzzed throughout the dome, SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner threw an interception on the first drive of the game giving USD the ball at midfield but resulted in a blocked 48-yard field goal attempt by Miles Bergner as Winston Wright shot off the edge unblocked to get his hand on the ball. SDSU would go on to miss a 51-yard field goal on the ensuing drive, Jay Carlson’s first career attempt.

The Jackrabbits got on the scoreboard with just over a minute left in the first quarter on a 34-yard Sumner pass to Jason Schneider putting SDSU up 7-0. USD would go on to score on their following drive by a 21-yard field goal by Bergner. 

With 4:55 left in the second quarter, Zach Zenner cashed in a 1-yard touchdown run, a botched snap led to a failed two-point conversion, putting SDSU ahead with a 13-3 lead over the Coyotes. 

USD inched three points closer going in at the half down 13-6.

On the Yotes’ second drive of the second half, Terrance Terry caught a 13-yard pass from Kevin Earl to come within one of SDSU, a failed P.A.T. off the right upright kept the Jacks on top 13-12. 

Terry led the Coyotes offensively with nine receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.

SDSU would go on to seal it in the fourth quarter, as Sumner would find Schneider on a 5-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter putting SDSU on top with an eight point lead, 20-12. 

“I give South Dakota State a lot of credit, they got a good football team,” USD head coach Joe Glenn said. “We had our chances at times during he game, just didn’t make the plays they made … We just weren’t able to run the ball and we have been able to run the ball a lot better than that.”

The Coyotes’ first two drives in the fourth quarter ended with the Coyotes turning the ball over on downs in Jacks’ territory. USD wide receiver Josh Vander Maten was stopped a chain link or two short of a first down on a fourth-and-four screen pass, and a jubilant R.C. Kilgore who sacked Earl on a fourth-and-11 on the following possession.

“Everything clicked today,” Kilgore said. “The crowd was loud … I love when everyone is against you … Feels good to own the state one more year.”

SDSU got the ball back with every intention to waste the clock away with just over three minutes left in regulation until USD’s Keyen Lage came screaming off the line and popped Zenner who fumbled the ball at a critical moment in the game setting up the tying score for the Yotes.

“I think I had two hands on it,” Zenner said. “When it came out, I mean, that’s the worst feeling for a running back probably … So really I guess I gotta squeeze it and see that guy [Lage] coming.”


 On the very next play, Earl was pressured and threw the ball up on the left side of the field only to be intercepted by Wright. It looked like he was going to go out of bounds but Wright tip-toed his way in bounds and cut left up field out running his opponents and took it to the house for six, sealing the SDSU victory.

“Something we were taught every week [is] to take knee during two minutes,” Wright said. “I caught it, saw that I was in bounds looking at the clock and there were three minutes somewhere.”

Zenner, who topped the 100-yard mark for the 10th time this season, gained 137 yards on 31 carries against USD. 

“This game was about making plays and they made more plays than we did,” USD linebacker Tyler Starr said. 

Schneider finished with five receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns and Sumner completed 16-of-23 passes for 175 yards.

“Coming in we knew we had to win the next two games,” Schneider said. “It was a good game. Glad we came out on top.”