TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (SDSU) — Third-ranked South Dakota State forced four first-half turnovers and erupted for 28 points in the second quarter en route to cruising to a 42-23 victory over Indiana State Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Jackrabbits, who upped their winning streak to six games, improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Indiana State dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.
SDSU took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards on eight plays to open the scoring. Redshirt freshman quarterback J’Bore Gibbs, who accounted for four first-half touchdowns, tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kallan Hart to complete the drive.
On Indiana State’s first play from scrimmage, Jackrabbit defensive end Reece Winkelman came up with a strip sack, also coming up with the recovery at the Sycamores’ 10-yard line. However, SDSU came up empty, missing a short field goal.
The Sycamores tied the game at 7-all later in the first quarter, taking advantage of the lone Jackrabbit turnover of the game – an interception by Keawvis Cummings. Indiana State needed only one play to score as Kurtis Wilderman connected with Matae Thomas from 28 yards out.
The Jackrabbits owned the second quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns 15 seconds apart. The first touchdown was a 23-yard pass from Gibbs to Jaxon Janke, finishing off a six-play, 80-yard drive that included a 21-yard connection from Gibbs to Janke on the previous play.
After forcing and recovering the third Indiana State fumble of the half – forced by Logan Backhaus and recovered by Michael Griffin II – SDSU cashed in on the next offensive play as Gibbs found Cade Johnson for a 25-yard score.
SDSU built its lead to 28-7 later in the quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Pierre Strong, Jr.
Indiana State ended the Jackrabbit scoring run with a 37-yard field goal by Jerry Nunez, but SDSU took advantage of another short field after a shanked punt in the final minute to go up 35-10 at halftime. The three-play, 45-yard drive began – after a penalty — with passes of 30 and 19 yards from Gibbs to Johnson and Adam Anderson, respectively, before Gibbs carried in from a yard out.
Johnson finished the game with season highs of seven catches and 134 receiving yards, while Strong carried 17 times for 144 yards. Strong scored the lone Jackrabbit touchdown of the second half on a 19-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Sycamores pulled to within 35-17 midway through the third quarter on a fake field goal as Nunez lofted a pass over the middle that was hauled in by Zach Larkin for a 14-yard touchdown. Dante Jones II added the final tally for either team with a 3-yard touchdown catch from Wilderman in the fourth quarter.
The SDSU defense recorded a season-high eight sacks in the contest, with Tolu Ogunrinde leading the way with two sacks. Nine different Jackrabbits were credited with at least a half-sack, including Don Gardner, who led the team with seven total tackles.
The Jackrabbits ended the afternoon with a 452-338 advantage in total offense. Gibbs completed 18-of-28 passes for a season-high 274 yards.
Wilderman was 19-of-31 passing for 196 yards, while Peterson Kerlegrand gained 107 yards on the ground on 19 carries.
Michael Thomas led all players with 10 tackles for Indiana State.
The Jackrabbits return home to face top-ranked North Dakota State on Oct. 26. Kickoff for the annual Dakota Marker game is set for 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
- SDSU leads the all-time series, 8-2, and has won the last six meetings
- The Jackrabbits improved to 64-27 in Missouri Valley Football Conference games since joining the league in 2008
- Johnson topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season and seventh time in his career
- Johnson caught a touchdown pass for the fifth consecutive game, upping his career total to 26 to move into a tie for third place on the SDSU career charts with Josh Davis (2002-05)
- Johnson upped his career receiving yardage total to 2,250, passing JaRon Harris (2,241 from 2005-08) for sixth place in Jackrabbit history
- Strong posted his third 100-yard game of the season and eighth of his career
- SDSU scored 70 points – 35 in each half – between the second half of its road win last week at Youngstown State and Saturday’s game at Indiana State
- The Jackrabbits improved to 3-0 in the MVFC for the first time since 2016
- SDSU is 5-0 when scoring first this season and 4-0 when leading at halftime
- Griffin added an interception on the final play of the first half, giving SDSU an interception in all seven games this season and 13 of 14 contests dating back to 2018
- Attendance was 4,642