SDSU continues rivalry dominance, beats USD 49-27

BROOKINGS -- Boasting a big offense and a stout defense, the South Dakota State University football team continued its dominance over its in-state rivals on Saturday.

South Dakota State's Pierre Strong breaks a tackle attempt from South Dakota's Elijah Reed during a first-quarter touchdown run during the teams' college football game Saturday at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

BROOKINGS -- Boasting a big offense and a stout defense, the South Dakota State University football team continued its dominance over its in-state rivals on Saturday.

Pierre Strong ran for 253 yards and three touchdowns, while Taryn Christion had four total touchdowns in a 49-27 regular-season finale victory over the University of South Dakota in front of 8,517 fans at an icy, cold Dykhouse Stadium.

The Jackrabbits (8-2, 6-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) are poised to be among the top-8 seeds when the 24-team Football Championship Subdivision playoff bracket is announced Sunday morning. That would result in SDSU hosting a playoff game on Dec. 1. The Coyotes finish the season at 4-7 and 3-5 in the Valley. Saturday’s win makes it seven consecutive SDSU wins over USD in the Division I era, and 10 straight wins over the Coyotes overall dating back to 2001.

Strong, the Jacks’ flourishing freshman running back, had 116 yards on seven carries in the first half. It was the second straight game with three touchdowns for the Little Rock, Arkansas product, who is averaging more than 10 yards per carry for the season.

Trailing on two occasions by 28 points, the Coyotes showed some life in the fourth quarter, with back-to-back touchdowns and had a chance to recover an onside kick with 6:05 left. But the Jackrabbits came away with the ball following a scrum and Strong put the game on ice with a 46-yard touchdown run with under 4 minutes remaining.


Strong scored the Jackrabbits’ opening touchdown, a 30-yard run through the heart of the Coyote defense on just the third play from scrimmage in the game. But USD promptly answered with a five-play drive, capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass from standout quarterback Austin Simmons to Brett Samson.

The two teams traded punts before Strong struck again, breaking a 73-yard touchdown run to put the Jacks up 14-7. A Marshon Harris interception of Simmons led to the first of two jet-sweep touchdown passes from Christion to Cade Johnson from 20 yards out, and the Jacks took a 28-7 lead to the second quarter thanks to a Blake Kunz 59-yard touchdown catch from Christion.  

SDSU added more before halftime, thanks to a strip sack and fumble recovery from Ryan Earith. Two plays later, Christion ran the ball in from 16 yards out with 20 seconds left, padding the Jacks’ lead to 35-7 at the break. SDSU finished with a 495-445 edge in total yards, but only ran 53 plays compared to USD’s 98 offensive snaps.

Christion, who reached 100 career passing touchdowns in the game, had 172 yards passing on 12-for-22 passing. Johnson finished with three catches and 58 yards.

For USD, Simmons was 34-for-58 passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He added two rushing touchdowns after 79 yards rushing on 17 carries. Shamar Jackson led the Coyotes with 11 catches for 111 receiving yards.


USD 7  0 7  13 -- 27

SDSU 28  7 7  7 -- 49


Scoring summary

First quarter

SDSU: Pierre Strong 30 run (Chase Vinatieri kick), 13:29.

USD: Brett Samson 3 pass from Austin Simmons (Mason Lorber kick), 11:27.

SDSU: Strong 73 run (Vinatieri kick), 7:24.

SDSU: Cade Johnson 20 pass from Taryn Christion (Vinatieri kick), 3:16.

SDSU: Blake Kunz 59 pass from Christion (Vinatieri kick), 0:21.

Second quarter


SDSU: Christion 16 run (Vinatieri kick), 0:20.

Third quarter

USD: Simmons 8 run (Lorber kick), 11:23.

SDSU: Johnson 10 pass from Christion (Vinatieri kick), 4:41.

Fourth quarter

USD: Simmons 16 run (kick blocked), 12:01.

USD: Connor Herrmann 17 pass from Simmons (Lorber kick), 6:09.

SDSU: Strong 46 run (Vinatieri kick), 3:33.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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