FCS Playoffs: South Dakota State Beats Northern Iowa
What a difference six weeks makes.
Back in October, Northern Iowa took advantage of two early South Dakota State turnovers, outscoring the Jackrabbits 17-0 in the first quarter, en route to a 38-18 Missouri Valley Conference win.
Saturday (December 2) in round two of the FCS Playoffs, the fifth-seeded Jackrabbits flipped the script, scoring 34 of the first 41 points of the game, beating the Panthers 37-22 to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
SDSU is now 3-0 at home in the FCS post season and will look to extend that streak when they host New Hampshire next weekend.
Leading 3-0 in the first quarter, the Jackrabbits capped a seven play 70-yard drive with a touchdown pass from Taryn Christion to Cade Johnson on fourth and goal from the two yard line.
After UNI answered with a touchdown drive of their own, South Dakota State started clicking on all cylinders.
It began with a Johnson 70-yard kickoff return, setting up a Chase Vinatieri career-long 55-yard field goal to extend the lead to 13-7.
The Jackrabbits then responded with lengthy back-to-back touchdown drives, eight plays and nine plays respectively, capped by a Christion touchdown run and a Dallas Goedert touchdown catch to give SDSU a 26-7 lead at intermission.
In the second half, the South Dakota State defense stepped up on three straight Northern Iowa possessions.
First, after SDSU had throw an interception, the Jackrabbit defense got the ball back on downs.
The Panthers next possession ended in a single play when Logan Backhaus forced a fumble, which was recovered by Nick Farina.
After SDSU converted that into a Christion to Jacob Brown TD pass, the defense played takeaway again, when Larenzo Williams stopped a UNI drive in the red zone with an interception.
For the Jackrabbits, Christion finished the day 19-of-28 passing for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Goedert had six catches for 83 yards. Brady Mengarelli, Mikey Daniel, and Isaac Wallace combined for 105 yards rushing.