Sunday, October 23, 2016
Jackrabbits set tone early against YSU
By Charles Grove
A game that was touted as a slugfest between the two final unbeaten teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference turned out to be a mismatch.
South Dakota State (5-2, 4-0 MVFC) was dominant in every area in a 24-10 win over Youngstown State (5-2, 3-1).
The Jackrabbits scored the opening touchdown on a five-play drive that took just 2:38 off the clock. YSU was in trouble from the opening play when quarterback Taryn Christion hit Dallas Goedert for 61 yards to get into the red zone.
Things got worse on the Penguins’ opening drive when Ricky Davis threw an interception that was returned to the YSU 4-yard line. SDSU made it 14-0 one play later.
“They made a couple of big plays early and we were behind the 8-ball all day,” YSU head coach Bo Pelni said.
The Penguin offensive line that dominated Northern Iowa’s defense a week ago didn’t nearly have the same success against SDSU. YSU managed to gain just 94 yards on the ground through the first three quarters and Davis and backup quarterback Nathan Mays were sacked six times.
“You have to play well around your quarterback,” Pelini said. “Guys took their turns shooting themselves in the foot today.”
Mays took over for Davis with 9:16 to go in the game. Davis wasn’t taken out due to injury. Mays led a 10-play, 65-yard drive late in the game to get YSU into the end zone once the outcome was all but decided.
Pelini said everybody’s job is up for grabs, including that of Davis.
“Absolutely [Mays will compete for Davis’ job],” Pelini said. “Nobody is handed a job on our football team. You have to earn it every week.”
YSU appeared to show signs of life toward the end of the first quarter when the Penguins drove 58 yards on 11 plays, getting down to the SDSU 11-yard line. But the drive fizzled out and YSU had to settle for a field goal to make it 14-3.
Right tackle Dylan Colucci said SDSU blitzed much more than what was anticipated and that caused the YSU offense to face many third-and-long situations.
“Stopping the run on first down was huge,” South Dakota State defensive lineman Kellen Soulek said. “[The blitzing] worked really well. I don’t think they were ready for it.”
SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said his team was very effective stopping the run mainly because of the scoreline and YSU being forced to play from behind.
“I think Martin Ruiz and [Jody] Webb are really good players but when you want to run the football and you’re in that situation when you’re behind that much I think it takes you out of it.”
Defensively, Pelini felt his team did a solid job slowing down one of the top offenses in the FCS. YSU limited a team averaging 40 points per game to 24 and a team averaging 333 passing yards to 189.
“Defensively we played pretty well,” Pelini said. “We got a bunch of short fields and that’s a good offense. We hung in there, we made some plays when we needed to but you’re not going to just shut them down.”
It was “Hobo Day,” SDSU’s version of Homecoming and the Penguins and Jackrabbits played in front of a record crowd of 17,730. It is the largest crowd to ever see a college football game in the state of South Dakota.