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Jackrabbits outlast North Dakota to lock up tenth straight FCS Playoff bid

SDSU wins 24-21 to reach seven Division One wins and likely earn at-large bid
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 10:44 PM CST
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In a back-and-forth game throughout, South Dakota State had the final answer as Cole Frahm kicked the go-ahead 38-yard field goal with just over five minutes remaining as the Jackrabbits outlasted North Dakota, 24-21, in the regular season football finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

With the win, the Jackrabbits, ranked 12th in the Stats Perform media poll and 13th by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, improved to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. 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.

After a scoreless first period, SDSU cracked the scoring column in the opening minute of the second half on a 17-yard pass from Chris Oladokun to Jadon Janke. That capped a seven-play, 87-yard drive that included a 22-yard run on the opening play of the drive by Isaiah Davis, who made his first appearance since the second game of the season.

UND answered with a 14-play, 79-yard drive of its own on the ensuing possession, with Garret Maag scoring the first Fighting Hawk touchdown of the game on a 16-yard pass from Tommy Schuster.

The Jackrabbits regained the lead in the final seconds of the half as Tucker Kraft caught a middle screen from Oladokun near the line of scrimmage and rumbled 23 yards for his sixth touchdown of the season.

UND knotted the game at 14-all on the opening drive of the second half, putting together another lengthy drive that was finished off by a 1-yard run by backup quarterback Quincy Vaughn.

After being stuffed just shy of the goal line on a fourth-down play on their next drive, the Jackrabbits took advantage of a short field after a UND punt to take the lead once again - thanks to a fortuitous bounce. On first and 10 from the UND 21, Oladokun’s pass to the end zone was originally intended for Jadon Janke, but was deflected in the hands of a diving Jaxon Janke for a touchdown.

Once again the Fighting Hawks put together the game-tying drive, covering 75 yards on 14 plays, the final seven yards of which came on a rushing touchdown by Otis Weah.

Tyler Feldkamp returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to set up SDSU at its own 42. Passes of nine yards to Kraft and seven yards to Jaxon Janke for first downs helped move the ball to as far as the UND 21, putting Frahm in position for his 38-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner despite some anxious moments late.

UND converted twice on third down and once on fourth down, the last conversion of which was a 25-yard pass from Schuster to Jacob Richter that put the ball at the SDSU 23. Following Cade Terveer’s second sack of the drive, Malik Lofton came up with the game-sealing interception at the UND 12. It was the only turnover by either team in the evenly matched contest.

Lofton’s interception was his team-leading third of the season.

SDSU finished with a 368-329 advantage in total offense despite running 20 fewer plays as UND converted 13-of-19 times on third-down attempts. The Fighting Hawks also held a 33:01 to 26.39 edge in time of possession.

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. Pierre Strong, Jr. rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, with Davis adding 64 yards on nine attempts.

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.

Adam Bock paced the Jackrabbit defense with a game-high 12 tackles, followed by eight by Isaiah Stalbird.

NOTES

  • UND leads the all-time series, 47-35-5, although SDSU has won three of four matchups in the schools’ Division I eras
  • The Jackrabbits improved to 8-2 this season when scoring first and 6-0 when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent
  • Caleb Sanders recorded a first-half sack which was the 15th of his career, tying him with Kevin Tetzlaff (15 sacks from 1988-91) for 10th place on the SDSU career charts
  • Strong upped his season rushing total to 1,317 yards, tying him with Rick Wegher (1984) for eighth-most in a single season by a Jackrabbit
  • Bock upped his season tackles total to a team-best 100 as he registered double figures in tackles for the sixth time this season and ninth time in his career
  • Oladokun increased his season passing touchdowns total to 20, tying him with Brad Nelson (2004) for seventh on the SDSU single-season charts
  • Jaxon Janke topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth game in a row and fifth time this season
  • Attendance was 8,135

UP NEXT

The Jackrabbits will find out their playoff fate Sunday morning as the 24-team field for the FCS playoffs will be announced at 11:30 a.m. on ESPNU. SDSU is in line to make its 10th consecutive postseason appearance.

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