SDSU tops rival USD 31-8BROOKINGS (AP) — South Dakota State earned a chance at the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs Saturday afternoon with a 31-8 win over in-state rival South Dakota in the teams' first gridiron match-up in nine years.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
BROOKINGS (AP) — South Dakota State earned a chance at the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs Saturday afternoon with a 31-8 win over in-state rival South Dakota in the teams' first gridiron match-up in nine years.
The Jackrabbits (8-3, 6-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) were led by running back Zach Zenner, who gained 164 yards on 28 attempts with one touchdown. It marked the eighth time he gained more than 100 yards this season.
Zenner said he hopes the victory is enough to get the Jackrabbits into the FCS playoffs.
"That's something we've been working toward all season," he said after the game.
SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner was 20 of 30 for 272 yards with one touchdown.
South Dakota got its only score on a blocked punt and 27-yard return with just under 8 minutes left in the game. USD (1-10, 0-8 MVFC) ends its season without a conference win.
USD head coach Joe Glenn said his team got hit with three quick scores and it was tough to recover.
"They capitalized on every one of our mistakes, and it was 21-0 before we really got our hands on the ball," he said.
Receiver Will Powell led the Coyotes with seven catches for 110 yards.
The game drew a crowd of 15,278 to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Jacks quarterback Austin Sumner completed 5 of 6 passes on the opening drive, including a 30-yard third-down completion to Tyrel Kool and a 7-yard touchdown pass to receiver Aaron Rollin to give the Jacks a 7-0 lead.
SDSU head coach John Stieglmeier said Kool's third-down catch on that drive got the Jacks going.
"You make one play, it has an effect on the whole game," Stieglmeier said.
USD quarterback Josh Vander Maten had a chance to quickly tie the game on a deep ball to a wide open Will Powell, but Vander Maten overthrew him. Later in the drive, SDSU defensive end Doug Peete stripped the ball from Vander Maten on a third-down play, and linebacker Chris Tracy picked it up and returned it 43 yards for a 14-0 Jacks lead.
SDSU extended its lead to 21-0 on its next possession with an eight-play, 64-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by tight end Cam Jones, who lined up at quarterback for the play.
The second quarter remained scoreless until SDSU's Justin Syrovatka kicked a career long 48-yard field goal near the close of the half to give the Jacks a 24-0 lead.
USD reached the red zone on their first three possessions in the second half but couldn't come away with any points.
The Coyotes' first drive of the half reached the Jackrabbit 7 but ended when Vander Maten and receiver Terrance Terry couldn't connect on a fourth-down pass.
The Coyotes drove again, this time down to the SDSU 15, but corner Je Ryan Butler slapped the ball away from Powell on third down and kicker Kevin Robb missed a 33-yard into-the-wind field goal attempt on fourth down.
USD defensive end Skyler Luxa blocked Robb's 44-yard field goal attempt on the Coyotes' next possession.
The Coyotes finally got on the board with just under 8 minutes left in the game when Kyle Shanker blocked Ethan Sawyer's punt and fellow linebacker Mike Garvey picked up the ball and returned it 27 yards for the touchdown.
The FCS playoff spots will be announced Monday.
Stieglmeier said he feels SDSU is good enough but has no idea if the Jacks will be in until the announcement.