BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota State’s quest for an FCS National Championship came to an end this past weekend as they fell to Montana State in the semifinals. That loss marked the end to a year like no other for the Jackrabbits.

The Jackrabbits memorable 2021 came to an end this past Saturday in the FCS semifinals.

“I love our program, I thank God for our program and our players and the support we have and like I told them in the locker room this has to hurt. But that’s okay, because it meant it was important,” John Stiegelmeier said.

Beginning back in February and ending in late December, South Dakota State would play a total of 25 games across two seasons, finishing with a record of 19-6.

“It was awesome playing in the spring if I’m being honest, not because of it being spring, but because we had an entire year to prepare for it. You know, everyone was probably in the best shape they’ve ever been and we had a ton of time to bond,” SDSU senior lineman Wes Genant said.

“Well I love to coach so, to me it was a blessing and I love our players. So, to not have 15 days of spring ball but have a season in the spring and to be able to go to Frisco was an honor,” Stiegelmeier said.

The Jacks spring season with end with a loss in the national championship, creating a clear and and concise goal heading into the fall.

“We had all these bullet points that were listed up and at the very top was Frisco. Big ‘natty’, big dance, see Coach Stig dancing in the locker room,” Genant said.

SDSU would finish the regular season with a record of 8-3 defeating FBS opponent Colorado State in week one and they would also keep the Dakota Marker in Brookings with a 27-19 win over NDSU. But the Jacks would ultimately fall two steps short of reaching the FCS Mountain top, ending the careers of a decorated senior class.

“Over our long six years here man we really changed what SDSU football was and what its goals were, how we went about our business. I think that’s something that’s going to be remembered… those guys did something that changed SDSU football forever, they left their mark,” Genant said.

SDSU finished the fall season 11-4 overall, tying the program record for most wins in a season.