Defensive dominance keys the Jackrabbits’ big win over WIU

Andrew Mount

SDSU’s defense picked a good time to find the end zone for the first time in 2012.

Holding a 14-10 lead, SDSU’s defense set out to shut down the Western Illinois offense.

The Jackrabbits’ defense kept Western Illinois out of the end zone completely. Skyler Luxa of the Jacks made things tougher for WIU offensively when he intercepted quarterback Wil Lunt on the opening drive of the second half, taking the football 23 yards the other way for a touchdown.

“I didn’t do too much work, I just had to catch the ball,” Luxa said after the game. “It was really up to the ten other guys out there.”

SDSU’s defense came up big, only allowing three total points. The other seven points scored by WIU came off an early interception thrown by Austin Sumner, which was taken to the end zone for a touchdown.

It was the third game this season that SDSU’s defense hasn’t allowed a single touchdown.


Zenner delivers

Besides the efforts by defense and special teams, the offense also scored points as well as on the back of its star running back.

Zach Zenner had another incredible day running the ball, racking up 171 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. His two touchdown runs of 46 and 60 yards were the only touchdowns by the Jacks’ offense.

“When you don’t cash in, or don’t score in the red zone, it makes you want to come back and score that much more,” Zenner said.

When asked what led to his two big touchdown runs, Zenner said, “Definitely blocking upfront and downfield.”

Zenner now has 1,248 yards along with 8 touchdowns on the season. He continues his amazing play, averaging 208 yards per game and eight yards per carry. According to calculations by The Sports Network, Zenner is on pace for 2,288 yards this season.


Kool cashes in

The game opened with a bang as senior Tyrel Kool took the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the first SDSU kick return for a score since October 2007.

“Well, I heard someone was going to win an ATV,” Kool joked, drawing laughs from the room of reporters. “It was great blocks, right when I caught the ball … We just kind of went with it, I saw a little crease kind of to the back side and I thought, hey, you know, if I get in it fast enough, we might have a chance, and it just kind of happened.”

“If you remember as a redshirt freshman, he was phenomenal at kickoff returns,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said of Kool. “We had just felt that we had enough guys, and we wanted to use him more as a wide receiver, and we haven’t done that, so we decided let’s try this.”

Despite the team’s efforts, and having a record of 5-1, Kool says there is still work to do.

“As a team, we won’t be satisfied until we play a perfect game,” Kool said. “I think that we are capable of really big things, you see the potential in our team for that, it’s really obvious. … We have to make little adjustments here and there, cleaning things up. With time, that’s going to come, and it’s really going to be fun to watch, I think.”


Jacks stay at No. 20

Despite a convincing win over Western Illinois, the Jackrabbits remained at No. 20 in this week’s FCS media poll.

The Jackrabbits remain unranked in the coaches’ poll, while this is the fourth straight week SDSU has been ranked in the poll of writers, broadcasters and sports information directors around the country.

Four of the nation’s top five teams from last week lost Oct. 13. Top-ranked NDSU dropped to No. 4 after their loss to Indiana State 17-14, and Montana State moved down to No. 5 after ranking second last week. Eastern Washington, James Madison and Georgia Southern are the top three teams this week.