Jackrabbits hang on for victory over UC-Davis

SDSU survives late rally to win 24-22
Jackrabbits win 24-22
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 12:24 AM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Mark Gronowski ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, and South Dakota State survived some anxious moments down the stretch to hold off UC Davis, 24-22, in a nonconference battle between nationally ranked teams Saturday night at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

In winning the annual Dairy Drive game, the Jackrabbits, ranked second in the Stats Perform media poll and third by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, evened their record at 1-1. UC Davis, which entered the game ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll, dropped to 0-2.

SDSU capitalized on an interception and ensuing 31-yard return by linebacker Daeton McGaughy four minutes into the game, capping a five-play, 17-yard drive to put the first points on the board on a 1-yard run by Gronowski.

The Jackrabbits pushed their lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 41-yard field goal by Hunter Dustman that came after the SDSU defense took over on downs as the Aggies ventured into Jackrabbit territory for the first time.

UC Davis got on the board 80 seconds after Dustman’s field goal on a 68-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline from Miles Hastings to Lan Larison.

SDSU answered with its best drive of the young season, pushing its lead back to 10 points at 17-7 with an 11-play, 86-yard march. Isaiah Davis accounted for 33 rushing yards on the drive, while Gronowski completed passes of 15 yards to Jaxon Janke and 13 yards to Zach Heins before finishing off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle.

Isaiah Gomez brought the Aggies to within 17-10 on a 36-yard field goal with one second remaining in the first half.

After a scoreless third period that included the Aggies clanging a 43-yard field goal attempt off the right upright, the Jackrabbits were poised to put the game away after scoring their third — and final — touchdown of the night on a broken play six minutes into the final stanza. On first and goal from the UCD 7, the snap sailed over Gronowski’s head, but the sophomore signal-caller was able to retrieve the loose ball in stride at the 25 and then heaved the ball to the end zone into the arms of a diving Tyler Feldkamp for a touchdown and a 24-10 lead. That play completed a 12-play, 75-yard drive that consumed more than six minutes.

As quickly as the tide turned for the Jackrabbits on that one play, the ball began to bounce in UC Davis’ favor. After forcing the Aggies to punt for the fifth time in the game, SDSU failed to salt the game away as it committed its third turnover of the night by losing a fumble at its own 46.

UC Davis quickly cashed in as Hastings hooked up with Justin Poerio for 9-yard touchdown with 3:21 remaining. The Jackrabbits’ Jarod DePriest blocked the PAT attempt, which appeared to result in a return for a defensive extra point by Tucker Large. However, after a lengthy review, the ball was ruled to have hit the ground in the end zone after the block, negating an opportunity for a return.

With the score remaining at 24-16, Gomez recovered his own onside kick at the UCD 47 and the Aggies capitalized with their second scoring drive in one minute and 12 seconds. A pass down the middle of the field was deflected by the intended receiver into the hands of McCallan Castles at the 1-yard line and resulted in a 25-yard touchdown with 2:03 remaining in regulation.

UC Davis’ attempt at a game-tying two-point conversion was no good as Hastings rolled right, but his pass to the back corner of the end zone landed out of bounds.

This time, the Jackrabbits’ DyShawn Gales recovered the onside kick and SDSU was able to run out the clock.

UC Davis finished with a 322-250 advantage in total offense despite the Jackrabbits’ Isaiah Davis leading all players with 112 rushing yards while matching his career high with 25 carries. Gronowski completed 13-of-21 passes for 110 yards, but was intercepted twice. Jaxon and Jadon Janke each caught three passes for 36 and 33 yards, respectively.

Hastings finished the game 26-of-43 passing for 273 and three touchdowns for UCD. The Aggies’ do-everything back Ulonzo Gilliam hauled in eight receptions for 80 yards and added another 33 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.

Rex Connors was credited with a game-high 17 tackles for UC Davis, with Teddye Buchanan adding 10 tackles. For SDSU, Adam Bock led the squad in tackles for the second straight week with nine, while safety Colby Huerter adding seven stops in his first career start.

UP NEXT

The Jackrabbits close out nonconference play by hosting Butler in the Beef Bowl on Sept. 17. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

NOTES

  • SDSU leads the all-time series, 7-2, and has won the last six matchups, although five of those meetings have been decided by seven points or less
  • The Jackrabbits improved to 22-4 in home openers under head coach John Stiegelmeier, and extended its winning streak in those games to 12
  • SDSU remained undefeated in Dairy Drive games at 9-0
  • Saturday’s game was part of the MVFC-Big Sky Challenge
  • The Jackrabbits played without six starters from last week’s season opener at Iowa
  • Jaxon Janke moved into a tie with Tyrel Kool (2009-12) for 10th place on the SDSU career receptions chart with 138
  • Gronowski notched the third two-rushing-touchdown performance of his career
  • Davis reached the 100-yard mark in rushing for the eighth time in his career overall and for the second time against UC Davis
  • Feldman’s touchdown reception was the first of his career
  • Attendance was 15,182, which ranks as the ninth-largest crowd at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium since the facility opened in 2016