PERFECT FINISH: Jackrabbits finish first unbeaten regular season with victory over Missouri State
SDSU wins 35-17 to claim second straight outright Missouri Valley Football Conference title and finish 11-0
BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota State put the finishing touches on a perfect regular season for the first time in school history, defeating Missouri State, 35-17, in a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
The top-ranked Jackrabbits improved to 11-0 overall and went undefeated in league play for the second consecutive season with an 8-0 mark to claim the confernce title outright. Missouri State ended its season 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the MVFC.
SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski accounted for three touchdowns on the day, including opening the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run on the Jackrabbits first drive of the game. That capped a six-play, 78-yard march that included pass plays of 22 yards to Jadon Janke and 35 yards to Jaxon Janke.
After being held to a three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, Missouri State responded following the Jackrabbit touchdown with a 13-play, 67-yard drive of its own that culminated with an Owen Rozanc field goal from 33 yards.
The Jackrabbits extended their lead to 21-3 midway through the second quarter following two more long touchdown drives. SDSU moved 80 yards on only five plays late in the first quarter, when Gronowski hit tight end Zach Heins down the right hash for a 31-yard touchdown.
The Jackrabbits then turned to the ground game in the second quarter, with Gronowski picking up 14 yards on a bootleg on fourth-and-2 before Isaiah Davis tallied back-to-back runs of 13 yards before finding paydirt from a yard out.
SDSU had a chance to add to its lead on the final play of the first half, but Hunter Dustman’s 46-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright.
Missouri State trimmed the deficit to 21-10 by becoming only the second team to score against the Jackrabbits in the third quarter this season. The Bears drove the length of the field on only seven plays, capping the 93-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Pachot to Hunter Wood.
However, SDSU responded with the next two scores as Amar Johnson scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter and Gronowski connected with Jadon Janke off a flea flicker for a 36-yard scoring strike deep over the middle in the fourth quarter.
Gronowski finished the game with a career-high 323 yards on 16-of-23 passing, while Jadon Janke put together his second big game in a row by recording career highs with 10 catches and 187 receiving yards. Jaxon Janke added three receptions for 65 yards.
Pachot and Wood hooked up again in garbage time on a 40-yard touchdown pass for the final tally for Missouri State. Pachot ended the afternoon 23-of-35 passing for 261 yards, with Wood hauling in four passes for 78 yards and the two scores. Raylen Sharpe led the Bears with eight catches for 86 yards.
SDSU held a 477-343 advantage in total offense, with Davis leading the ground attack with 85 yards on 17 carries. Davis topped the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season and also surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards in Saturday’s game.
The 24-team Football Championship Subdivision playoff field will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Central Time Sunday on ESPNU. The Jackrabbits are all but assured of being the top seed and would receive a first-round bye before hosting a second-round game on Dec. 2.
- South Dakota State leads the all-time series against Missouri State, 13-1
- The Jackrabbits’ current 25-game winning streak ranks as the fourth-longest in FCS history
- SDSU also extended its MVFC winning streak to 17 games dating back to late in the 2021 season
- The Jackrabbits hold a 92-34 record (.730 winning percentage) in MVFC regular season games since joining the conference in 2008 and have not had a losing league record in 16 seasons
- SDSU improved to 50-7 all-time at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and has won 18 consecutive home games
- Jadon Janke moved into a tie with Cade Johnson (2017-19) for third place in career touchdown receptions at SDSU with 28
- Jadon Janke also moved into a tie with JaRon Harris (2005-08) and Glen Fox (2006-09) for eighth place on the SDSU career receptions chart with 152, and also overtook Jason Schneider (2,404 yards from 2011-14) for seventh place in career receiving yards with 2,517
- Jadon Janke’s 187 receiving yards are tied for ninth-most in a single game by a Jackrabbit
- Jaxon Janke caught a pass for the 44th consecutive game
- Gronowski rushed and passed for a touchdown in the same game for the seventh time this season and 21st time in 36 career starts
- SDSU recorded a season-best 29 first downs despite a season-worst 3-for-8 performance on third-down attempts
- Tucker Large was credited with three pass breakups — the most by a Jackrabbit in a game this season
- Attendance was 15,637
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