BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The SDSU football team reached the National Championship in the Spring of 2021, following a semifinal win over Delaware. Last year, the Jacks fell in the semis to Montana State and this year, the FCS Semifinals return to Brookings, as the Jackrabbits meet a familiar opponent.
SDSU earned a 42-21 win over Holy Cross in the quarterfinals. The Jacks own the top rushing defense in the country, but they were gashed for 261 yards on the ground by the Crusaders.
“We just need to focus on our rush lanes a little bit more. A lot of his big runs, I mean he scrambled for a lot of yards when we just let him out of the pocket and stuff. We need to tackle better,” Winkelman said.
The Jackrabbits are allowing just 85 rushing yards per game and they’ll look to get back to those ways in the semifinals.
“It starts with the d-line. We have a good d-line and we play a lot of guys. They’re fresh and they bust their tail, because they know that they don’t get to play every play. They only get a third to half of the plays,” Stiegelmeier said.
That SDSU defense will be tested Saturday, when they welcome in the third best scoring offense in Montana State, who is led by quarterback, Tommy Mellott.
“I’d say they definitely have strengths then they did last year. Obviously Tommy is still a great player, but they still have great receivers, good running backs. Their offense is extremely explosive, just a really good offense,” Sanders said.
The Jacks suffered a 31-17 loss to the Bobcats in last year’s semifinals, but a key difference will be under center, as Mark Gronowski missed last year’s game due to an injury.
“I wish I could’ve been playing in that game last year. That was such a fun atmosphere to play in at Bozeman. Just remembering how those seniors really felt after that game and kind of just treating this game and playing for them to get another chance at them,” Gronowski said.
Some may say revenge is on the minds of the Jackrabbits and while it may be, coach John Stiegelmeier knows this is the final test on the road to the National Championship.
“I think they wanted a chance to get to Frisco, Texas. Whatever path that we had to take to do that, that’s the opportunity that they wanted. It boiled down to, it’s the same opponent as last year,” Stiegelmeier said.
The Jackrabbits and Montana State will meet on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Brookings. You can follow along with the game in our live blog on KELOLAND.com.