FCS Playoffs: South Dakota State Beats Villanova to Advance to Quarterfinals
Over the years, the name Vinatieri has become synonymous with clutch field goal kicking, as Rapid City native Adam Vinatieri has built a case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame with big kicks for both the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
Saturday in Brookings, another Vinatieri added his name to that list of clutch performances, as Chase Vinatieri, Adam's nephew, knocked home a game-winning field goal, literally, with 1:21 left to give South Dakota State a 10-7 win in the second round of the 2016 FCS Playoffs.
The redshirt freshman from Sioux Falls got a home field bounce on the kick, banking it off the right upright to clinch the school's first-ever berth in the national quarterfinals.
The kick capped a day where SDSU's usually potent offense was held in check by the weather and Villanova's outstanding defense. The Jackrabbits, who averaged 481 yards of offense per game coming in, managed just 197 (just seven rushing yards) Saturday, scoring 27 points under their average.
The Jackrabbit defense came up with the first big play of the game on the Wildcats first possession of the first quarter, stopping Villanova running back Matt Gudzak for no gain on fourth-and-two from the SDSU 22 yard line.
The SDSU offense took advantage, going with a hurry up approach, covering 78 yards in nine plays, keyed by back-to-back Taryn Christion passes to Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke for 26 and 23 yards respectively. The drive ended in the end zone with a Goedert four-yard touchdown catch, giving the Jacks a 7-0 lead.
It stayed that way until right before halftime, when SDSU's defense appeared to have stalled a Villanova drive of more than six minutes, as the Wildcats, already out of timeouts, set up to kick a 23-yard field goal with time running out. But after a South Dakota State timeout, Villanova brought their offense back onto the field and scored on the next play, a six-yard touchdown pass from Zach Bednarczyk to Alex Padovani, to tie the game at seven with two seconds left.
The weather became a factor in the third quarter, as a nearly constant light snow made the field conditions at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium quite slippery. That limited both offenses to a combined six punts.
Villanova had a chance to take the lead with less than 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but a potential 46-yard field goal attempt was aborted when the Wildcats were whistled for an illegal substitution and had to punt instead.
Not only is the victory the first for SDSU in round two of the post season, it is also the school's first ever victory in the month of December.
Next up for South Dakota State? A quarterfinal game at top-seeded North Dakota State, Saturday, December 10 at 11:00 AM. NDSU beat San Diego in Saturday's second round game in Fargo.
SDSU and NDSU shared the 2016 Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship with identical 7-1 league records. The Jacks handed the Bison their only loss of the season, a 19-17 win at the Fargodome, October 15.
This will be the third time in the last five seasons these two have met in the post season. North Dakota State eliminated South Dakota State with second round wins in Fargo in both 2012 and 2014.