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SDSU hangs on for first win of season over UC Davis

A late 14-point lead for the Jackrabbits was whittled to two points, but a late stand earned SDSU its first win of the year

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SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski runs his way for his second touchdown against UC Davis during a college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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BROOKINGS — It was a close one but the South Dakota State Jackrabbits fended off a late game rally Saturday in front of their home crowd for the first time this season.

With what seemed to be a commanding 24-10 lead for the Jackrabbits midway through the fourth quarter, UC Davis scored twice in a minute and 22 seconds late in the fourth quarter — with an onside kick in between — to get within two points.

But SDSU held tough on a game-tying two-point conversion and recovered an ensuing onside kick to seal the Jackrabbits' 24-22 win in front of 15,182 fans at Dykhouse Stadium.

While SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier was pleased to get a win against what he called a "really good football team," he said the game provided a lot of "teachable moments" for his football squad.

"We could easily be sitting here with a score of 24-10, and we don't have these lessons to talk to our players about," Stiegelmeier said of Saturday's win against the Aggies, ranked No. 25 in the FCS coaches' poll.

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South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski celebrates during a college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic

Coming off a 7-3 loss to Iowa, Gronowski found some rhythm leading the Jackrabbits offense, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for another. The sophomore quarterback turned to his running game when the Jackrabbits needed it most, producing two rushing touchdowns on the goal line.

Gronowski's 1-yard run up the gut put SDSU on the board in the first quarter. UC Davis answered with a touchdown in the second quarter to cut the Jackrabbits lead 10-7. Once again, Gronowski punched his way threw for a rushing touchdown late in the second quarter to end the half with a 17-10 lead.

"We didn't really have that many big plays, but we had to march and march and march. I feel like as we keep going through the season, we are just going to get better and better," Gronowski said.

After a scoreless third quarter, SDSU marched down the field early in the fourth. The drive was capped off with a wild 7-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tyler Feldkamp who Gronowski found after recovering from a fumbled snap. The unexpected play pushed SDSU's lead to 24-10 until UC Davis began its late game rally.

"That's exactly how we drew it up in practice all week," Gronowski laughed. "Tyler Feldkamp just continued playing and threw an arm up. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and he was wide open. I just gave him the ball, and it was awesome."

A fumble from Angel Johnson In the fourth quarter comeback effort, the Aggies' Miles Hastings connected on two touchdown passes that came in the last three minutes of the contest. The Aggies' quarterback threw for 273 yards on 26-of-44 passes, including a late touchdown pass on a deflection to McCallan Castles to get within two points.

Although UC Davis used its aerial attack to produce its offense, SDSU's defense stumped the Aggies running game. The Jackrabbits held UC Davis to just 49 rushing yards in the game. Stiegelmeier was proud of the defensive effort that was led by Adam Bock, Colby Huerter and redshirt freshman Tucker Large.

"There are a lot of guys on the football team tonight who haven't played a lot of football. You win a lot of football games with guys that play hard and believe in themselves," Stiegelmeier said.

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Although he didn't have a touchdown connected to his name, running back Isaiah Davis covered a lot of ground for the Jacks and put SDSU in scoring position throughout much of the game. Davis knifed his way threw the Aggies' defense and produced 112 rushing yards on 25 carries.

The Jackrabbits (1-1) will take on Butler on Sept. 17 in Brookings in the annual Beef Bowl game.

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South Dakota State's Amar Johnson runs for a SDSU first down on Wednesday against UC Davis during a college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic

Related Topics: SDSU JACKRABBITSFOOTBALL
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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