SDSU shutout by No. 1 NDSU
BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota State stayed in the game for three quarters Saturday against the nation's top-ranked FCS team, North Dakota State, but ultimately the sixth-ranked Jackrabbits were blanked by their regional rival 20-0 before a record crowd.
The Jackrabbits (3-2, 0-1 Missouri Valley) came off a 59-20 loss last week at Nebraska, but were on a nine-game home winning streak, with the last loss to the Bison coming in 2011.
NDSU (4-0, 1-0) took a 51-0 victory over Delaware State in a week that included a visit by ESPN's “College GameDay” show. The two-time defending FCS champions have now won 14 straight on the road.
“I felt for three quarters it was a hard-fought game, which we expected,” said South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier. “But we just couldn't get anything going offensively and then we quit tackling and playing defense in the fourth quarter.”
Jackrabbits running back Zach Zenner had been barreling over defenses and leading the FCS through four games with 742 yards rushing for an average of 185.5. But on Saturday, he had just 4 yards on eight carries.
SDSU finished with minus-32 yards of rushing.
“Hard-nose, physical game,” said North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl. “I think the biggest difference in the ballgame is we were able to neutralize their running game.”
SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner passed for 156 yards but was sacked seven times.
“Any time you're playing against NDSU, you're going against a great defense,” he said. “We weren't executing it properly.”
The first score came well into the second quarter with a 1-yard run by Bison quarterback Brock Jensen, who had a 109 yards passing and 61 yards rushing but was sacked three times.
“Right now it feels really good,” Jensen said of the rivalry win. “It was a team effort. It feels good coming down here.”
South Dakota State's defense kept the Jackrabbits in the game into the fourth quarter until NDSU's John Crockett scored on a 14-yard run, though the extra point was blocked. Crockett rushed for 76 yards but also fumbled twice.
On the next Bison possession, Jensen ran it in again from a yard out for his second TD of the game.
“I don't think our guys gave up,” Stiegelmeier said. “But it takes a tough son of a gun to play that physical of a game through 60 minutes.”
Running back Sam Ojuri led North Dakota State in rushing with 113 yards on 19 carries. The team had 262 total yards rushing.
“There's room for significant improvement. We had uncharacteristic errors on all phases of the game. We need to pick up our discipline,” Bohl said. “We can certainly play better than we did.”
The team left any euphoria from last weekend's ESPN presence in Fargo, so that wasn't an issue, Bohl said.
NDSU linebacker Grant Olson recorded two sacks. Stopping Zenner for no gain on the first play of the game set the tone, he said.
“We knew that if we were going to win, we needed to be the more physical team,” Olson said.
“We were focused in on Zenner and shutting him down all week. It feels really good,” added NDSU defensive end Mike Hardie, who graduated from O'Gorman High School in Sioux Falls.
“It's a lot of fun,” he said of playing former high school teammates. “There's some good friends on the other team.”
A Coughlin-Alumni Stadium record crowd of 16,498 watched.
The rivalry known as the Dakota Marker game started in 2004. North Dakota State leads the series 6-4 now, holding on to the traveling trophy for the fifth year in a row.
The trophy mimics the quartzite monuments that used to mark the border between the two states. The initials “N.D.” and “S.D.” are chiseled on opposite sides, and “190 M” is inscribed on one face to representing the distance between Brookings and the Bison's home of Fargo.
That proximity brings a lot of rivalries between friends like Jaydon Gorter and Laura Rudie, both 19, who grew up in nearby Pipestone, Minn. He goes to SDSU and she's a student at NDSU. They've been trash-talking all week about the game.
“He talked me into sitting on this side,” Rudie said as they took their seats on the Jackrabbits side.