SDSU defeats Coyotes 31-8BROOKINGS — South Dakota’s Division I college football bragging rights were up for grabs for the first time and it was the Jackrabbits who ran away with the honors.
By: Marcus Traxler, The Daily Republic
BROOKINGS — South Dakota’s Division I college football bragging rights were up for grabs for the first time and it was the Jackrabbits who ran away with the honors.
South Dakota State built a 21-point first quarter lead and resisted two red zone drives from South Dakota, as the Jackrabbits defeated the Coyotes 31-8 Saturday in front of 15,278 people in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits, with a playoff berth on the line, zapped any life from USD with a 10-play, 75-yard drive to open the game with quarterback Austin Sumner hitting wide receiver Aaron Rollin for a 7-yard touchdown reception.
USD nearly got back into the game on one throw as Coyote quarterback Josh Vander Maten had an open Will Powell on a deep post route but the ball sailed long. Later on the drive, Vander Maten fumbled the ball and senior linebacker Chris Tracy ran it back 43 yards to put SDSU ahead 14-0 with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits finished off a 64-yard drive before the end of the quarter when tight end Cam Jones took a direct snap as quarterback and plunged in from a yard out to put SDSU ahead 21-0.
Admittedly, the first quarter was a “punch in the gut” for the Coyotes, according to Vander Maten and it became too much of a hole to climb from.
“It was 21-0 before we could even get going,” said USD head coach Joe Glenn, who played in the series as a Coyote quarterback in the 1970s. “We couldn’t get anything going and they capitalized on every mistake we made.”
For the Jackrabbits, Saturday wasn’t the time for a letdown.
“We weren’t going to come out slow,” Tracy said. “We had everything riding on this game.”
The Jackrabbits, wearing throwback uniforms from the 1980s and early 90s, added a career-long 48-yard field goal before halftime from kicker Justin Syrovatka to go up 24-0 into the break. The Coyotes rallied in the third quarter, driving 13 plays to the SDSU 7-yard line before Vander Maten’s pass to wideout Terrance Terry fell short on fourth-and-3.
After a missed 32 yard field goal at the end of the third quarter and a 44-yard try was blocked, the Coyotes’ special teams finally gave the red section in the corner of the stadium something to cheer about, when Kyle Shanker blocked an Ethan Sawyer punt and Mike Garvey ran it back 27 yards for a touchdown. The fourth-quarter touchdown, coupled with a two-point conversion, cut the lead to 16 points.
The Jacks then answered with a five-play drive and running back Zach Zenner scored from one yard out with 5:08 to play to set the final 23-point margin. SDSU won the total yardage battle, 428-266.
Zenner finished the game with 28 carries and 164 yards. Sumner was 20-for-30 passing for 272 yards and one touchdown, while the ’Yotes Vander Maten was 21-for-36 for 219 yards. USD’s Will Powell led the Coyotes with eight catches for 118 yards.
SDSU’s win caps an 8-3 season, with the Jackrabbits finishing alone in second place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 6-2. SDSU learned Sunday that it qualified for the FCS playoffs and will host Eastern Illinois for a first round game at 2 p.m. Saturday in Brookings.
On the flip side, the Coyotes’ difficult debut season in the MVFC comes to an end at 0-8 in the league and 1-10 overall.
Despite the hype, Tracy said the game had a great atmosphere and thought the hype about the game was worth it.
“We look forward to it, (USD) looks forward to it, and the whole state of South Dakota goes along for the ride,” Tracy said.
SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said he expects the series to intensify when the teams meet at the end of the 2013 season in Vermillion.
“Our guys had never played in this,” Stiegelmeier said. “When we go down there and we’re in their environment ... it will be huge. But it’s going to take some time.”