BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – Behind the rushing of Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State put together a number of time-consuming drives in posting a methodical 34-10 victory over Western Illinois Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

The Jackrabbits, ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision media poll conducted by Stats Perform and third in the coaches’ poll, won for the fourth consecutive game to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Western Illinois remained winless at 0-5 overall and 0-2 in league play.

Davis made his presence known from the get-go, carrying the ball on all six of the Jackrabbits’ plays from scrimmage on their opening drive of the game. The junior from Joplin, Missouri, tallied 46 yards on the opening drive, including a 26-yard gain on the second play of the series, before finding paydirt from 2 yards out moments later to give SDSU a 7-0 lead after the extra point by Hunter Dustman.

After recovering a Western Illinois fumble in the red zone, SDSU put together its longest drive of the season for both plays (14) and time (7:08) on its next offensive possession, settling for a 27-yard field goal by Dustman for a 10-0 lead with under a minute to play in the first quarter.

The Fighting Leathernecks answered with a 35-yard field goal by Mason Laramie early in the second stanza, but the Jackrabbits built their advantage to 17-3 with a nine-play, 58-yard drive that ended on an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mark Gronowski.

SDSU recovered the ball at the Western Illinois 21 after the ensuing kickoff held up in the wind and took a Jackrabbit bounce into the hands of Steven Arrell. However, the Jackrabbits couldn’t cash in as Dustman’s 33-yard field goal attempt was hooked left, keeping the score at 17-3 into intermission.

Dustman connected on a 25-yard field goal for the only points of the third quarter, capping a 12-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven more minutes.

The Jackrabbits put the game away with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter. First, Gronowski hooked up with Jaxon Janke for a 19-yard touchdown and Davis followed moments later with a 12-yard scoring run. Davis, who tallied 199 yards on a career-high 27 carries, set up his second touchdown of the game with a season-long 38-yard run.

Western Illinois’ lone touchdown was the result of a fortunate bounce. Naseim Brantley caught a pass near midfield and broke through several tackles on his way to end zone. The Jackrabbits’ Arrell jarred the ball loose from Brantley from behind just before Brantley crossed the goal line; however, the Leathernecks’ Jay Parker fell on the loose ball in the end zone to complete the 56-yard touchdown.

SDSU racked up nearly a 23-minute edge in time of possession (41:26 to 18:34) and ran 34 more offensive plays (80-34) in finishing with a 458-220 advantage in total offense. Gronowski completed 17-of-33 passes for 188 yards and connected with eight different receivers, including Jaxon Janke, who tied a career high with nine receptions for 94 yards.

The Jackrabbit defense limited WIU to 19 net yards rushing, extending SDSU’s Division I-era record streak of holding opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground for the fifth consecutive game.

Adam Bock paced the SDSU defensive effort with 10 tackles, followed by five by Jason Freeman.

UP NEXT
The Jackrabbits continue home action Oct. 8 by hosting South Dakota in the South Dakota Showdown Series. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

NOTES

SDSU leads the all-time series, 13-5.


The Jackrabbits have won the last five meetings and 12 of 14 games in the Division I era (since 2004).


SDSU’S time of possession total of 41:26 marked the program’s second highest in the D-I era, trailing only a 41:30 performance against Southern Illinois in 2017.


Davis, who crossed 2,000 yards for his career, reached the 100-yard mark for the second time this season and ninth time in his career.


Bock registered double figures in tackles for the second time in 2022 and 11th time in his career.


Jaxon Janke also tallied nine receptions in the 2021 meeting with Western Illinois.


Janke moved into seventh in career receptions at SDSU with 155, passing both JaRon Harris (152 receptions from 2005-08) and Glen Fox (152 receptions from 2006-09) on Saturday, and passed Harris (2,241 yards) for seventh in career receiving yards with 2,249.


Janke also took over sole possession of eighth place on the Jackrabbits’ career receiving touchdowns list with the 18th of his career, breaking a tie with his twin brother, Jadon, and Rusty Lenners (1993-96).


Reece Winkelman gained the ninth spot in career sacks for the Jackrabbits with the 17th of his career, passing Zach Carter (16.5 from 1994-98).


Caleb Sanders also notched a sack for his 35th career tackle for loss, tying him with Mark Dunbar (1977-80) and Eric Schroeder (2005-08) for fifth place on the SDSU career charts.


Attendance was 15,237, making it the 10th-largest crowd in stadium history.