MACOMB, ILL (SDSU) — South Dakota State broke loose from Western Illinois with a 21-point third quarter to defeat the Fighting Leathernecks, 41-17, in a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at Hanson Field.
The Jackrabbits, who entered the game ranked seventh in the Stats Perform media poll and eighth by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in league play. WIU dropped to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in the MVFC.
Holding a 13-10 halftime advantage, the Jackrabbits began to assert themselves on the opening drive of the second half. After forcing a punt after a three-and-out, Kinser Madison blocked the Leatherneck punt at the WIU 15 and Canyon Bauer scooped up the football at 9 and carried it in for a touchdown.
Although Western Illinois answered with a 15-yard touchdown run by Myles Wanza on its next drive, the Jackrabbits quickly regained the momentum with two touchdowns less than three minutes apart later in the quarter. Pierre Strong, Jr. found the end zone from 17 yards out for the first SDSU score and Jaxon Janke scored on a 21-yard pass from Chris Oladokun moments later as the Jackrabbits dominated the battle for field position in the third quarter.
Strong, who rushed 19 times for 122 yards, capped the scoring less than a minute into the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Jackrabbits drew first blood, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Oladokun to Jadon Janke midway through the first quarter.
Western Illinois would score the next 10 points over a four-minute span to take its lone lead of the game. Dennis Houston tallied for the first points for the Leathernecks on a 12-yard end-around touchdown and Mason Laramie booted a 43-yard field goal into a brisk wind.
Houston tallied a game-high 14 receptions for 71 yards.
SDSU tied the game on a 47-yard field goal by Cole Frahm and grabbed the 13-10 halftime advantage on the final play of the first half as Frahm connected again from 29 yards out.
The Jackrabbits limited WIU to 84 yards of total offense in the second half and held a 370-237 advantage for the game. SDSU’s offense was spread nearly evenly as Oladokun completed 17-of-25 passes for 195 yards and the Jackrabbits gained another 175 on the ground. Jaxon Janke caught a career-high nine passes for 101 yards to lead the receiving corps.
Defensively, the Jackrabbits notched four sacks and were led by Adam Bock’s seven tackles. Michael Griffin II, Payton Shafer and Isaiah Stalbird each contributed five stops.
Western quarterback Connor Sampson was 29-of-51 passing for 207 yards.
The Jackrabbits return home to host Northern Iowa Oct. 23 on Hobo Day. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.