Dominate South Dakota State downs Drake at Target Field

The SDSU Jackrabbits turned Target Field into Brookings North as the Jacks down Drake 70-7.
Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 11:44 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota State racked up its most points and yards in a game in five years, rolling past Drake, 70-7, Saturday in a nonconference football game Saturday afternoon at Target Field. 

Nine different players found the end zone for the top-ranked Jackrabbits, who improved to 3-0 on the season and ran their school-record winning streak to 17 games. Drake dropped to 0-3. 

Drake put the first — and its only — points on the board before the crowd of 18,174 had a chance to settle into its seats. On the first play from scrimmage, Bulldog quarterback Luke Bailey connected with Colin Howard on a deep pass down the middle of the field for a 53-yard gain to the SDSU 30. Two plays and a penalty later, Bailey hooked up again with Howard for a 35-yard touchdown 2 minutes and 17 seconds into the contest. 

From there, it was all Jackrabbits. SDSU needed only four plays to knot the game at 7-all as Isaiah Davis caught a short pass from Mark Gronowski and scored from 23 yards out. On the next possession, SDSU converted twice on third and long after the Jackrabbits were set up in Drake territory after a 42-yard punt return by Tucker Large to the Bulldog 36. Tight end Kevin Brenner finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown reception from Gronowski. 

The Jackrabbits pushed their lead to 35-7 with three more touchdowns in the second quarter. Gronowski tossed scoring passes of 13 yards to Zach Heins and 18 yards to freshman wide receiver Griffin Wilde around a 1-yard touchdown run by Amar Johnson. Large set up Johnson’s touchdown with a 61-yard punt return to the Drake 18. As a team, SDSU recorded 179 yards on six put returns and added 73 more yards on a pair of kickoff returns by Amar Johnson. Large ended the day with what is believed to be a school-record 149 yards on four punt returns, with Devon Cole tallying 24 yards on his lone return and Dalys Beanum adding a 6-yard return. 

Gronowski, who accounted for a career-high six touchdowns, ended his afternoon with a 5-yard touchdown run and a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Janke on the first two Jackrabbit drives of the third quarter. Gronowski, whose five touchdown passes also were a career best, completed 18-of-25 passes for 226 yards as he topped the 5,000-yard mark for his career. 

Janke notched season highs of seven catches and 85 receiving yards as 10 different Jackrabbits caught passes on the day. SDSU’s final three touchdowns covered 20 or more yards, including two by Angel Johnson. First, Johnson closed out a 21-point third quarter with a 21-yard score, followed by a 66-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. In between, backup quarterback Chase Mason scampered 69 yards through the Bulldog defense for his second rushing touchdown of the season. 

The Jackrabbits amassed 618 yards of total offense, including a 359-47 advantage on the ground. Angel Johnson paced the rushing attack with 90 yards on only four carries, while Davis gained 77 yards on eight attempts. Bailey led Drake by going 16-of-29 for 201 yards through the air and gaining 25 yards on three rushing attempts. Daeton Mcgaughy led all players with nine tackles, including a tackle for loss, for the Jackrabbits.

The Jackrabbits have their lone bye week of the regular season before opening Missouri Valley Football Conference play Sept. 30 against North Dakota. Kickoff for the Precision Ag Bowl and Hall of Fame Game is set for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

Recap courtesy of SDSU Athletics.