BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — South Dakota State forced five first-half turnovers, converting those Northern Iowa miscues into 17 points on the way to a convincing 41-6 Hobo Day victory before a sellout crowd of 19,357 Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
The top-ranked Jackrabbits remained undefeated at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, extending their school-record winning streak to 20 games. Northern Iowa, which was the top team receiving votes in both major Football Championship Subdivision polls, dropped to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.
SDSU scored touchdowns on each of its first possessions to build an early 14-0 lead. Taking over after a short punt on UNI’s opening drive, the Jackrabbits marched 55 yards on eight plays with quarterback Mark Gronowski plunging in from a yard out for the first score of the game. A 13-yard pass from Gronowski to Mike Morgan on third-and-7 gave SDSU a fresh set of downs from the UNI 15 to set up Gronowski’s sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
The Jackrabbit defense forced its first turnover of the day on the next UNI drive and the SDSU offense cashed in on a short field moments later. Isaiah Stalbird stripped the ball from the Panthers’ Naran Buntin and Jason Freeman recovered at the UNI 35. Six plays later, Isaiah Davis spun and found the end zone from 3 yards out.
SDSU came up with its second fumble recovery in three plays when Steven Arrell jarred the ball loose and came up with the recovery at the UNI 45. However, the Jackrabbits gave the ball right back when Jasiah Galvan punched the football loose after a catch by Zach Heins down the middle and the Panthers recovered at its own 12.
The UNI streak of possessions ending with a turnover reached five with three more miscues in the second quarter. Jason Freeman and DyShawn Gales each came away with interceptions of Theo Day passes in Jackrabbit territory around a fumble near midfield that was forced by Logan Green and recovered by Caleb Francl.
The Jackrabbits converted the fumble into six points as Gronowski hooked up with Jadon Janke for a 16-yard touchdown pass. The SDSU lead grew to 24-0 after the Gales interception as Hunter Dustman booted a 42-yard field goal.
The Panthers got on the board on the final play of the first half on a 38-yard field goal by Matthew Cook to cut the deficit to 24-3.
Heins atoned for his earlier turnover by catching a pair of touchdown passes from Gronowski in the third quarter. The scoring strikes covered 6 and 23 yards, and extended the SDSU lead to 38-3. Heins ended the afternoon with four catches for 69 yards.
Dustman’s second 42-yard field goal of the game and a 43-yarder by Cook accounted for the scoring in the fourth quarter.
SDSU racked up a 450-264 advantage in total offense. Gronowski, who rushed and passed for touchdowns for the 11th consecutive game dating back to last season, was an efficient 21-of-26 passing for a season-high 291 yards and completed passes to eight different receivers.
Freshman Griffin Wilde (60 yards) and Jadon Janke (58 yards) shared game-high honors with four receptions for SDSU, while Davis paced the ground game with 103 yards on 17 carries.
UNI was limited to 40 net yards rushing as the Jackrabbits sacked Day four times. The UNI signal-caller completed 16-of-24 passes for 210 yards, with Sam Schnee leading the Panthers with 104 yards on four catches, including a 66-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Cade Terveer was credited with 1.5 sacks and five total tackles. Stalbird tallied a sack among his team-high nine tackles to go along with his forced fumble. Saiveon Williams added six tackles and a forced fumble.
Woo Governor registered a game-high 13 tackles and forced a fumble for UNI, followed by an 11-tackle outing from Edwin Dearman.
The Jackrabbits begin a two-game road swing with an Oct. 21 matchup at nationally ranked Southern Illinois. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Illinois.
- Northern Iowa leads the all-time series, 33-25-2, including holding an 11-9 advantage in the Division I era (since 2004)
- SDSU improved to 64-40-5 in 109 Hobo Day games
- The Jackrabbits have won 12 consecutive MVFC games dating back to late in the 2021 season
- SDSU notched its 16th straight home victory and upped its record at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium to 48-7 since the facility opened in 2016
- Davis recorded the 19th 100-yard game of his career
- Gronowski has rushed and passed for touchdowns in 20 of his 31 career starts
- Gronowski moved into a tie with Ryan Berry (2005-08) for third place on the Jackrabbit career passing touchdowns chart with 56
- Jaxon Janke extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 40 with three catches for 56 yards
- Jaxon Janke pass Josh Davis (3,192 yards from 2002-05) for third place in career receiving yards with 3,197, while Jadon Janke overtook Rusty Lenners (1,942 yards from 1993-96) for ninth place with 1,971
- Heins caught two touchdowns in a game for the second time in his career (vs. Lindenwood in 2021)
- SDSU recorded an interception for the first time since the Sept. 9 victory over Montana State
- The five turnovers forced by the Jackrabbits is the program’s highest total in a game since coming up with six takeaways — all interceptions — in the opening round of the 2021 FCS playoffs against UC Davis
- Gales’ interception was the eighth of his career, which ranks as the most among current Jackrabbit players