TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (SDSU) – Big plays on offense and a stifling defense propelled South Dakota State to a 44-0 shutout victory over Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Jackrabbits, ranked second in the Stats Perform Football Championship Subdivision media poll and third in the coaches’ rankings, improved to 3-0 overall. Indiana State dropped to 2-2 overall.
South Dakota State asserted itself early, taking the opening kickoff and digging deep into the playbook for the opening salvo. Running back Pierre Strong, Jr. took a handoff, rolled right and threw back across the field to quarterback Chris Oladokun for a 22-yard touchdown.
All four of the Jackrabbits’ first-half touchdowns would come via the air as Oladokun connected with Jadon Janke on a 33-yard scoring strike later in the first quarter, then hooked up with Tucker Kraft for a 26-yard touchdown and a 42-yard catch and run by Jaxon Janke two minutes apart in the second quarter.
Strong topped the 100-yard mark for the third time in as many games this season, reaching the mark before halftime en route to 150 yards on 20 carries.
Cole Frahm added field goals of 45 and 32 yards in the first half to help give the Jackrabbits a 34-0 halftime lead, then booted his career-best third field goal, a 27-yarder in the third quarter to up the lead to 37-0.
The Jackrabbit defense, meanwhile, held Indiana State to 0-for-3 in red-zone opportunities and stopped the Sycamores on all four of their fourth-down attempts. Adam Bock led the effort with 10 tackles and an interception, followed by eight tackles from Logan Backhaus.
Backup running back Amar Johnson closed the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, capping a five-play, 92-yard drive in which he also had a 34-yard reception on the play preceding his score.
SDSU finished with a 517-226 advantage in total offense. Oladokun completed 12-of-21 passes for 216 yards, while Kraft led the receiving corps with five catches for 85 yards.
Peterson Kerlegrand accounted for the bulk of the Indiana State offense, gaining 76 yards on 21 carries and tallying 50 yards on two receptions. Kurtis Wilderman was 9-of-22 passing for 89 yards, with Anthony Thompson going 5-for-6 through the air for 59 yards.
The Jackrabbits return to nonconference play, hosting Dixie State in the Beef Bowl on Oct. 2. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.