Jackrabbits fall in regular season finale


VERMILLION, S.D. (SDSU) – Fifth-ranked South Dakota State turned the ball over four times in falling to in-state rival South Dakota, 24-21, in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

The Jackrabbits wrapped up the regular season with an 8-4 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU will await its postseason fate until the Football Championship Subdivision playoff field is announced at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

SDSU scored on its opening possession of the game, marching 80 yards on nine plays. A 54-yard catch and run by Cade Johnson put the Jackrabbits deep into USD territory before Kallan Hart capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Keaton Heide.

USD, 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the MVFC, gained its first lead of the game by scoring all 10 points of the second quarter. Mason Lorber booted a 39-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to put the Coyotes on the board.

After the Jackrabbits’ second lost fumble of the game late in the period, USD cashed in with an 11-play, 34-yard touchdown drive. The Coyotes converted twice on third down and opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the SDSU 1 in the closing seconds of the half, with Austin Simmons finding Brett Samson in the back of the end zone for USD’s first touchdown of the game.

SDSU regained the lead on the opening drive of the second half as Mikey Daniel burst through the line untouched for a 27-yard touchdown run to finish off a seven-play, 71-yard drive.

The rest of the third quarter belonged to the Coyotes, who scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 24-14 lead into the final stanza. Simmons scored from 2 yards out for the first score, followed by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Lorber. Both scores were set up by long passes to Kody Case – 44 yards on the first drive and 35 yards on the second. Case finished the game with five receptions for 111 yards.

The Jackrabbits pulled back to within 24-21 early in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard pass from Keaton to fullback Luke Sellers. It was Sellers’ first career touchdown.

Defensively, SDSU held the Coyotes without a first down in the fourth quarter, forcing punts on all three possessions.

However, the Jackrabbits turned the ball over on downs on one of their final three possessions and lost a pair of fumbles, including one at the USD 30 midway through the fourth quarter. The final turnover came on a failed hook-and-lateral at midfield in the final seconds.

SDSU finished with a 498-369 advantage in total offense. Heide completed 26-of-35 passes for 308 yards, while Johnson ended the afternoon with game highs of 10 catches and 139 yards to lead the receiving corps.

Daniel finished with a career-high 125 yards on 17 carries.

For USD, Simmons completed 20-of-32 passes for 252 yards and also led the Coyotes in rushing with 47 yards on 16 carries. In addition to his two touchdown receptions, Samson totaled six receptions for 71 yards.

Christian Rozeboom notched a game-high 14 tackles for the Jackrabbits as he topped the 100-tackle mark for the fourth year in a row. Levi Brown and Michael Griffin II each were credited with four stops.

Jack Cochrane paced USD with 11 tackles, including one of the Coyotes’ four sacks.

First-round matchups for the FCS playoffs will be played Nov. 30 at campus sites. The top eight seeds will receive first-round byes and host second-round games Dec. 7.

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