South Dakota State Jackrabbits Bring Home the Marker, 19-17
*** Information provided by SDSU and GoJacks.com
FARGO, N.D. – The mantra for the South Dakota State football has been "Last Play" since a 2014 playoff loss in the closing seconds at North Dakota State. Saturday afternoon, the Jackrabbits scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Taryn Christion to Jake Wieneke with a single-second remaining to knock off the top-ranked Bison, 19-17, before a crowd of 18,828 at the Fargodome.
With the win, the Jackrabbits improved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. NDSU dropped to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in league play. SDSU also gained possession of the Dakota Marker for the first time since 2009.
SDSU's victory came after the Jackrabbits came up empty in three previous red-zone possessions – two of which resulted in turning the ball over on downs and the third on an interception in the end zone.
Both teams put together a time-consuming drive on their opening offensive series. SDSU was stuffed on a fourth-down play at the Bison 1-yard line before NDSU put together an 18-play, 99-yard that bridged into the second quarter and ended on a 1-yard run by quarterback Easton Stick. Initially, Stick was stacked up at the line of scrimmage before bouncing outside for the score.
The Jackrabbits got on the board on a 38-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri late in the second quarter, but the Bison countered with a 49-yard field goal by Cam Pedersen on the final play of the half to take a 10-3 lead into intermission.
NDSU carried the momentum into the second half, marching 76 yards on nine plays with Stick carrying the final 26 yards for his second score of the game. Stick led the Bison in rushing with 86 yards on 12 carries.
The complexion of the game changed on the next Bison possession as Chris Balster popped the ball loose from running back King Frazier near midfield and Nick Farina came up with the recovery. SDSU cashed in with a five-play, 54-yard drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Christion to Dallas Goedert. For Goedert, it was his ninth receiving touchdown of the season and marked the seventh game in a row, dating back to last season, in which he has caught a touchdown pass.
Vinatieri's second field goal of the game, a 42-yarder four minutes into the fourth quarter, pulled the Jackrabbits to within 17-13.
Meanwhile, SDSU's defense continued to come up with stops and held the Bison to one first down in the fourth quarter.
SDSU's game-winning drive began at its own 20 with 2 minutes, 28 seconds to play. Sandwiched around a holding penalty, Christion ran for a pair of first downs before finding Adam Anderson for 16 yards and connecting with Wieneke along the left sideline for 25 more yards to put the ball at the NDSU 11 with under 30 seconds to play. A Christion-to-Goedert pass moved the ball to the Bison 2 with five seconds remaining, setting up Wieneke's heroics. The two-time All-American was the lone receiver on the left side of the formation and cut quickly toward the middle of the end zone for his 11th receiving touchdown of the season.
Wieneke finished the game with six catches for 108 yards, with Goedert adding game-highs of 11 receptions for 150 yards. Both receivers hit the century mark for yards in the same game for the fourth straight time.
Christion accounted for 444 yards of total offense, completing 24-of-42 passes for 303 yards and rushing 20 times for 141 yards. SDSU finished with a 523-304 advantage in total offense, including a season-high 220 rushing yards.
Stick completed 14-of-20 passes for 143 yards, with Darrius Shepherd leading Bison receivers with six catches for 74 yards.
Freshman linebacker Christian Rozeboom paced the Jackrabbit defense with 12 tackles, including a sack. Besides his forced fumble, Balster made nine tackles, with Jesse Bobbit adding eight.
Robbie Grimsley led all players with 14 tackles for NDSU.
The Jackrabbits return home to face Youngstown State on Hobo Day. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
* NDSU leads the all-time series, 59-41-5, and the Dakota Marker series, 8-5
* The Jackrabbits improved to 16-15 against ranked MVFC foes since joining the league in 2008 and 25-37 against ranked FCS opponents since 2004
* Wieneke upped his career touchdown receptions total to 38 and has caught a TD pass in 23 of 32 career games
* Wieneke recorded the 20th 100-yard game of his career and increased his career receiving yardage total to 3,579, putting him 43 yards away from passing Jeff Tiefenthaler (3,621 yards from 1983-86) for the SDSU career lead
* Christion became the first Jackrabbit quarterback since Ted Wahl in a 1988 game at North Dakota to pass for 100 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game
* SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier moved into sole possession of fourth place in career victories by a Missouri Valley Football Conference coach with 64, breaking a tie with former Western Illinois mentor Don Patterson
* The Jackrabbits did not attempt a punt in the game
* SDSU was 8-of-16 on third-down attempts and 2-of-6 on fourth-down tries