YOUNGSTOWN, OH (SDSU) —
Walter Payton Award candidate Pierre Strong, Jr. rushed for a season-high 163 yards and two touchdowns, and the South Dakota State defense turned in a strong effort to lead the Jackrabbit football team to a 47-16 road win Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
South Dakota State, ranked 10th in the Stats Perform media poll and 13th by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. YSU dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in league play.
The Jackrabbits wasted little time to break into the scoring column, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards on eight plays. After extending the drive with a pair of third-down runs that resulted in first downs, quarterback Chris Oladokun found a wide-open Zach Heins down the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown pass three and a half minutes into the contest.
SDSU would go on to finish 10-of-12 on third-down attempts in the game, compared to 1-of-9 by the Penguins.
Strong made it 14-0 on the next SDSU possession, scoring the first of his two touchdowns on a 5-yard run to cap a nine-play, 71-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes.
YSU put its first points on the board on the ensuing first-quarter drive as Colt McFadden kicked a 28-yard field goal. The Penguins prevented SDSU from further increasing its lead by forcing a pair of turnovers deep in YSU territory in the second quarter, although Cole Frahm put up the only points of the second stanza on the board on the final play of the half for SDSU with a 52-yard field goal.
The Jackrabbits put the game out of reach with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter. After Malik Lofton intercepted a pass at the YSU 35 on the Penguins’ first drive of the second half, SDSU and Strong needed only one play to answer as the senior running back broke through a big hole in the center of the line and rumbled to the end zone.
That touchdown run put Strong over the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season as he finished the afternoon with his 163 yards on 19 carries.
Reserve quarterback Rudy Voss added a 14-yard touchdown run later in the quarter for a 31-3 Jackrabbit lead.
The Penguin tandem of Bryce Oliver and backup quarterback Mitch Davidson connected for both of YSU’s touchdowns — a 35-yard pass play late in the third quarter and a 31-yarder midway through the fourth. YSU starting quarterback Joe Craycraft completed only 4-of-10 passes for 36 yards, while Davidson was 6-of-7 for 111 yards.
However, after Oliver’s first touchdown, Adam Bock blocked and returned the PAT try for two points for the Jackrabbits.
Oladokun and backup running back Amar Johnson each scored on 1-yard runs in the fourth quarter to finish off the scoring for SDSU, which reached the 40-point mark for the seventh time in eight games this season. Johnson carried 18 times for 87 yards, while Oladokun completed 16-of-22 passes for 260 yards.
Jaxon Janke tallied game highs of seven catches and 111 receiving yards as the Jackrabbits finished with a 553-223 advantage in total offense.
SDSU held Youngstown State’s Jaleel McLaughlin to 54 yards on eight carries. As a team, the Jackrabbits registered 10 tackles for loss, led by three from Reece Winkelman and sacks by Logan Backhaus and Ryan Van Marel. Cade Terveer notched a team-high five total tackles.
The Jackrabbits return home to meet North Dakota State in the annual Dakota Marker Game. Kickoff for the Nov. 6 game is 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.