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South Dakota State closes the regular season with narrow win over North Dakota

Jackrabbits expect to make 10th straight playoffs on Sunday

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South Dakota State University football. (Republic file photo)
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BROOKINGS — No. 13 South Dakota State closed the regular season with a victory over North Dakota Saturday, 24-21, at Dykhouse Stadium, likely assuring the Jackrabbits of a 10th consecutive NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth.

SDSU finishes the regular season at 8-3 and got an important seventh win against a Division I opponent for the purposes of the NCAA FCS playoff selection committee, which will announce the 24-team field at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

SDSU's Cole Frahm hit a 38-yard field goal with 5:23 remaining in the game, breaking a 21-all tie. On the ensuing UND possession, SDSU's Malik Lofton had a game-sealing interception from Tommy Schuster at the Jacks' 12-yard-line in the final minute of the game to end a potential game-tying or go-ahead scoring drive for the Fighting Hawks. It was the only turnover of the day for either team.

Quarterback Chris Oladokun completed 19-of-25 passes for 239 yards and the three touchdowns to lead the Jackrabbit offense, with Jaxon Janke tallying eight catches for 103 yards. The pair connected for SDSU's first touchdown early in the second quarter, and Oladokun found tight end Tucker Kraft for a 23-yard touchdown pass on third-and-17 just before halftime to put SDSU ahead 14-7.

Pierre Strong, Jr. rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, with Isaiah Davis adding 64 yards on nine attempts in his first game back in two months after being injured.

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UND dropped to 5-6 overall and 3-5 in league play, with all eight of its MVFC games decided by seven points or less. It answered the Kraft touchdown with a 1-yard Quincy Vaughn touchdown run at 14-all midway through the third quarter. After Oladokun found Jaxon Janke on a 25-yard touchdown catch that deflected off the hands of his brother late in the third quarter, the Fighting Hawks answered with a 7-yard touchdown run by Otis Weah to tie the game at 21 with 9 minutes to go.

The Fighting Hawks were able to stay in the game due to their success on third down, converting 13 of 19 attempts in the game. For UND, Schuster completed 22-of-37 passes for 218 yards. Bo Belquist and Brock Boltmann each caught five passes for 62 and 40 yards, respectively. Weah was the leading ground-gainer with 63 yards on 16 carries.

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 mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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