Zenner Bulldozes Record

Marcus Traxler

A season ago, SDSU couldn’t run the football to save its season, finishing dead last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference rushing.

Now the Jackrabbits can’t run the ball enough, with their running back nearly doubling the yardage of every other FCS runner through two weeks.

Behind 278 yards from running back Zach Zenner — a Division I SDSU record — the Jackrabbits were never really in trouble en route to their first win in 2012, defeating Southeastern Louisiana 31-14 at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, La.

Zenner, who had 34 carries and a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, allowed the Jackrabbits to outrush SLU on the ground, 357 yards to 11, and earn Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

“In order for a running back to have a good game, there’s got to be holes open, and that’s what happened tonight,” Zenner said.

The Jackrabbits scored their first touchdown early in the second quarter when quarterback Austin Sumner found  Seth Daughters in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Bookended by a pair of Justin Syrovatka field goals from 23 and 22 yards, respectively, the Jackrabbits took a 13-0 lead at halftime and likely should have led by more.

The Lions did not take the loss without a fight. SLU drove 75 yards on the opening drive of the second half and scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Stanley to Michael Chaney to cut the SDSU lead to 13-7.

SDSU would answer with a Trevor Tiefenthaler return to midfield and with a 46-yard rainbow pass from Sumner to Jason Schneider on 3rd and 16, to put the Jackrabbits up 21-7 after making a two-point conversion from Sumner to Vince Benedetto.

Zenner would get back to work in the second half with a 35-yard touchdown run where he nearly went untouched to move the score to 28-7. His night would have been perfect if not for a late fourth quarter fumble, which was picked up by T’Darryl Grays for a 25-yard return, setting the final score at 31-14.

“He’s a Jackrabbit running back in the sense that he runs so hard and he’s so competitive,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “Unfortunately, he had the fumble at the end, but he had a great game.”

For the Lions (0-2), the late touchdown did little to change the mood about the game. Saturday’s loss marked the first time in nine years that SLU lost its home opener.

“We still make too many dad-gum stupid mistakes,” SLU coach Ron Roberts said. “We don’t do the things necessary to win. We’re our own worst enemy right now.”

Sumner finished the game 8-of-18, passing for 134 yards with two touchdowns and a first half interception. Doug Peete led the Jackrabbits with six solo tackles, four tackles for a loss and two of SDSU’s five sacks.

SDSU opens its home season Saturday at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium against UC Davis at 2 p.m. in the Cereal Bowl.

“It’s a treat to play at home,” Stiegelmeier said. “It’s going to be fun to have a great crowd because I know we will, and it’s going to be fun to compete against Davis. They’re a good football program.”