BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — SDSU picked up an impressive 27-19 win over #2 NDSU to keep the Dakota Marker Trophy in Brookings.
“I would credit number one our crowd there was unbelievable energy. Our students stayed and I love that and then obviously our players made some plays. We didn’t make them all, but they made some plays to make a difference, so I’m really proud,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “This is such a great rivalry and my hat goes off to the type of football program that North Dakota State is.”
The Jackrabbits struggled offensively in the second half, as they were able to just get 79 yards. NDSU outgained the Jacks 365-349.
SDSU rushed for 181 yards against the NDSU defense that is allowing just 74 yards per contest.
SDSU started the game with a bang as Pierre Strong Jr. broke loose for a 75 yard touchdown run. It took 16 seconds for the Jacks strike and take a 7-0 lead.
However, the Bison would even the contest with a touchdown pass midway through the first quarter.
Then SDSU scored 20 unanswered points, starting with a one yard touchdown run by Strong Jr.
On the ensuing drive, SDSU used an incredible play call that led to Strong Jr. completing a touchdown pass to Tucker Kraft.
“We were really trying to sell the quarterback sneak. He snapped it real low, I caught it, one-thousand one, one-thousand two and then throw,” SDSU running back Pierre Strong Jr. said.
“When they work you’re a genius and when they don’t, you have 10,000 people that are questioning it,” Stiegelmeier said. “Our job as coaches is to work on it, believe in our players and try to execute it. We won’t be able to use that play for three years, but today it was the right moment and it clicked off. One of the coolest things for me is when a guy like Pierre comes up to me and says, ‘thanks for believing in me coach and letting me do that’. It’s so rewarding and it’s emotional to be honest with you, that a young man feels that.”
Strong Jr. said they put that play in three years ago and it was the first time that they used it.
A pair of Cole Frahm field goals, one in the second quarter and one in the third quarter, to open a 27-7 lead.
NDSU would respond with a near seven minute drive that ended in a touchdown from Cam Miller to RaJa Nelson.
NDSU put together a long six minute drive in the fourth quarter as they looked to cut the SDSU lead to one score.
However, the SDSU defense would come up with a huge set of downs as they turned away the Bison and kept them out of the endzone.
The Bison would add a late field goal and then they needed an onside kick recovery, but SDSU’s Cale Reeder did his job and recovered the kick to seal the win for SDSU.
“Just hearing that the spring (Dakota Marker win) was a fluke. That just really added fuel to our fire. So, to keep it home for another whole year meant the world,” Strong Jr. said. “I feel like we just got our swag back, you know. We were dancing after first downs. The crowd is always with us and on the sideline, we’re cheering on the defense and the defense is cheering us on. I feel like we got our confidence and our swagger back, so we’re good.”
Pierre Strong Jr. led the way for the Jackrabbits as he rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He also threw for an 11 yard touchdown. The standout running back has now rushed for 1,142 yards this season.
Chris Oladokun went 13-22 for 157 yards. He also rushed for 19 yards.
Jaxon Janke led the way through the air as he hauled in six catches for 118 yards. Tucker Kraft had five receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.
NDSU’s Cam Miller was 15-22 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
SDSU will face another rival next week as they travel to Vermillion for a 1 p.m. kick-off against USD.
The Bison will travel to Ohio to play Youngstown State next Saturday.