Jackrabbits run over North Dakota

Isaiah Davis leads ground attack in 42-21 SDSU win
#1 Jackrabbits win 14-7
Published: Oct. 1, 2023 at 12:45 AM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - An efficient offense coupled with a swarming defense propelled top-ranked South Dakota State to a 42-21 victory over North Dakota in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at a sold-out Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

In winning their 18th consecutive game dating back to last season, the Jackrabbits improved to 4-0 on the season. UND, ranked 11th by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches and 12th in the Stats Perform media poll, dropped to 2-2 overall.

SDSU scored touchdowns on six of its first seven offensive possessions, including taking the opening kickoff and putting together a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The Jackrabbits established the run game on the opening series with all but one play on the opening series coming on the ground with quarterback Mark Gronowski plunging in from a yard out for the first score of the game.

After forcing a three-and-out on UND’s first offensive possession the Jackrabbits’ fast start continued with a nine-play, 77-yard drive. Isaiah Davis opened the drive with a 22-yard carry and Amar Johnson picked up three first downs with a 10-yard gain and receptions of 13 and 10 yards to set up a 6-yard Davis touchdown run for a 14-0 lead 10 minutes into the contest.

The two squads then traded nine-minute drives over the course of the remainder of the first half. UND established a short passing game to move into Jackrabbit territory and extended the drive thanks to an SDSU pass interference penalty before Quincy Vaughn was ruled to have broken the plane of the goal line from a yard out before losing control of the ball on the Fighting Hawks’ second fourth-down attempt on a 15-play, 75-yard drive.

SDSU’s only drive of the second quarter consumed 9 minutes and 36 seconds and consisted of 18 plays to cover 91 yards. The Jackrabbits converted four times on third down, including an 18-yard hookup between Gronowski and Jaxon Janke on third-and-17 that moved the ball to the UND 21. The Gronowski-to-Janke connection finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown with 40 seconds remaining in the opening half.

The Jackrabbit defense forced UND to punt three times in the third quarter while SDSU extended its lead to 35-7 on Davis touchdown runs of 3 and 1 yards, the latter of the two coming three plays into the fourth quarter.

UND put together a pair of 75-yard scoring drives in the final stanza, but Angel Johnson’s 50-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown in between the two Fighting Hawk scores helped seal the SDSU victory.

Both teams ran 59 offensive plays, but the Jackrabbits held a 433-234 advantage in total offense, including a 266-68 edge in rushing. Davis, who missed the game at UND last season due to injury, ended the afternoon with 132 yards on 16 carries.

Gronowski completed 13-of-22 passes for 167 yards, including three completions to Jaxon Janke for 51 yards and three to Zach Heins for 46 yards.

UND starter Tommy Schuster was 19-for-24 passing for 118 yards with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Luke Skokna for the first Fighting Hawk touchdown of the fourth quarter. Backup Trey Feeney engineered the final scoring drive of the game for UND, completing 6-of-8 passes for 48 yards and finding the end zone on a 5-yard run.

In his first action of the season, Jackrabbit linebacker Adam Bock registered a game-high 10 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss with a sack. Fellow linebacker Isaiah Stalbird added eight stops.

Malachi Buckner led UND with seven tackles.


The Jackrabbits face their first MVFC road test of the season, traveling to Illinois State on Oct. 7. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Illinois.


  • UND leads the all-time series, 47-37-5, although the Jackrabbits have won the last three matchups
  • Davis posted the 17th 100-yard game of his career
  • Davis rushed for three touchdowns in a game for the fifth time in his career and upped his career rushing TD total to 36, moving him into fifth place on the all-time SDSU charts as he passed Jerry Welch (34 touchdowns from 1951-54)
  • Jaxon Janke extended his streak of games with a reception to 38
  • Gronowski passed and rushed for touchdowns for the ninth consecutive game and 18th time in 29 career starts
  • Gronowski ended the day with 5,230 career passing yards, which is good for seventh place on the Jackrabbit career charts after passing Dan Fjeldheim (5,176 yards from 1999-2002)
  • The sacks recorded by Bock and Cade Terveer were SDSU’s first of the season
  • Bock notched double figures in tackles for the 12th time in his career
  • The Jackrabbits were 6-for-8 on third-down attempts
  • The Jackrabbits are a perfect 16-for-16 in red-zone scoring opportunities this season with 15 touchdowns and have scored on their last 62 trips inside the. Opponents’ 20-yard line (49 touchdowns, 13 field goals) dating back to last season
  • SDSU has outscored the opposition, 38-0, in the third quarters of games this season
  • During their 18-game winning streak, the Jackrabbits have defeated 10 ranked opponents
  • Attendance was 19,231, which is the fourth-largest crowd since Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium opened in 2016