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Jackrabbits humbled on Hobo Day again by Northern Iowa

Panthers spoil SDSU homecoming for third time since 2015 with 26-17 victory
Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Northern Iowa held South Dakota State’s high-powered offense in check, pulling out a 26-17 victory in a matchup of nationally ranked teams before a Hobo Day crowd of 16,889 Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

UNI, ranked 20th in the Stats Perform media poll and 24th by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in league play. The Jackrabbits, ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, dropped to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the MVFC.

Early on, the game appeared to be headed toward a shootout. The Panthers forced an SDSU fumble on the opening drive of the game and turned a short field into a touchdown. Taking over at the Jackrabbit 14-yard line, Bradrick Shaw finished off a six-play drive - all on the ground - with a 1-yard run 5 minutes and 50 seconds into the game.

The Jackrabbits who had scored 40-plus points in each of their first six games this season, responded with their best drive of the game, needing only six plays to cover 80 yards. The last 12 yards came on a touchdown pass from Chris Oladokun to Jadon Janke. It was Janke’s team-leading sixth touchdown catch of the season.

The two squads traded field goals for a 10-all tie as the game moved into the second quarter. UNI’s Matthew Cook booted a 55-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first quarter before Cole Frahm answered with a 34-yarder on the ensuing Jackrabbit drive.

Northern Iowa took a lead it would not relinquish as Isaiah Weston got behind the Jackrabbit defense for a 40-yard touchdown pass from Theo Day. Cook pushed the UNI lead to 20-10 at halftime with a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter, then tallied a 46-yarder midway through the third quarter.

Weston ended the afternoon with a game-high 125 receiving yards on four catches. Day completed 11-of-21 attempts for 232 yards. Vance McShane led a balanced Panther rushing attack with 54 yards on 20 carries.

UNI continued to win the field-position battle until the Jackrabbits finally flipped the field by pinning the Panthers at their own 2 on a 63-yard punt by Ben Dinkel. After forcing UNI to punt out of its own end zone, the Jackrabbits made it a one-possession game in the opening minute of the fourth quarter with a four-play, 40-yard scoring drive.

Oladokun connected with Tucker Kraft for 25 yards on a third-and-4 play, setting up Pierre Strong’s 9-yard touchdown run, which proved to be the Walter Payton Award candidate’s longest run of the day as he finished with 53 yards on 14 carries.

Cook’s fourth field goal of the day, this one from 51 yards, on the next UNI drive provided the final tally on the scoreboard for either team.

Several dropped passes thwarted Jackrabbit drives the remainder of the game and SDSU missed a chance to onnce again to get within one score as Frahm’s 47-yard field goal attempt with 2:45 to play sailed wide right.

SDSU finished with a narrow 360-335 advantage in total offense. Oladokun threw for 300 yards on 24-of-53 passing, with Kraft recording nine catches for 123 yards and Jaxon Janke adding 101 yards on four receptions.

Jackrabbit linebacker Graham Spalding led all players 12 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, and came away with the lone interception of the game. Michael Griffin II and Adam Bock each registered 10 tackles for SDSU, with Alfonzo Lambert pacing the Panthers with 10 stops.

UP NEXT The Jackrabbits continue action Oct. 30 at Youngstown State. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central) at Stambaugh Stadium in Youngstown, Ohio.

NOTES

  • Northern Iowa leads the all-time series, 33-23-2
  • The road team has won seven of the last 10 matchups in the series
  • SDSU dropped to 62-40-5 in Hobo Day games, with each of its last three homecoming losses coming at the hands of UNI (2015, 2017, 2021)
  • The crowd of 16,889 was the fourth-largest in stadium history (since 2016)
  • UNI started the game 4-for-4 on third-down attempts, but went 0-for-11 on third down the remainder of the contest
  • The Jackrabbits were 5-of-19 on third down and 2-for-6 on fourth-down tries
  • Oladokun completed all six of his first-quarter pass attempts for 107 yards and a touchdown
  • Strong scored the 32nd rushing touchdown of his career to move into a tie with Dan Sonnek (1984-87) for fifth place on the all-time Jackrabbit charts
  • SDSU did not score first for the first time this season
  • Kraft and Jaxon Janke each topped the 100-yard mark for receiving for the second time in 2021

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