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Jackrabbits hold off Kennesaw St., advance to FCS semifinals

KENNESAW, Ga. -- Taryn Christion capped a game-sealing drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with less than 3 minutes left to lift South Dakota State to a 27-17 victory over fourth-seeded Kennesaw State in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision ...

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KENNESAW, Ga. -- Taryn Christion capped a game-sealing drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with less than 3 minutes left to lift South Dakota State to a 27-17 victory over fourth-seeded Kennesaw State in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals Saturday.

The win moves SDSU to 10-2 on the season and into the FCS semifinals for the second straight season. It sets up a showdown at No. 1 North Dakota State (13-0) on either Friday or Saturday

SDSU led 20-3 after three quarters but back-to-back Owls touchdowns trimmed the Jackrabbit lead to three points with less than 7 minutes remaining.

Facing 3rd and 12 at their own 33, Christion found wideout Cade Johnson on the sideline for a key 33-yard gain. Five plays later, on 3rd and 7, Christion scooted up the middle and scampered into the end zone, putting SDSU back up by two scores with 2:22 remaining. On the ensuing drive, Logan Backhaus’ interception of Owls’ backup quarterback Daniel David with 1:29 remaining extinguished any hope for the KSU, which finished the season at 11-2.

Kennesaw State outgained SDSU 418-308 and ran for 312 yards in the game but David replaced standout quarterback Chandler Burks, who left the game in the second quarter with an arm injury.

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After the two teams traded field goals in the first quarter, SDSU posted two touchdowns, with Adam Anderson hauling in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Christion, followed by Pierre Strong’s 9-yard touchdown run, setting up a 17-3 halftime lead for the Jacks.

In a driving rain all game, Christion finished the game with 37 rushing yards and was 12-for-18 passing for 147 yards. Pierre Strong ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and Johnson finished with 72 yards on four catches in the pass game.

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