#6 South Dakota State Comes From Behind to Southeastern Louisiana, 34-26
Sixth-ranked South Dakota State rallied from a 12-point third quarter deficit with 27 unanswered points, as the Jacks defense forced six turnovers in a 34-26 win over Southeastern Louisiana, Saturday night in front of 13,456 in Brookings.
SDSU (3-0) remained unbeaten despite being outgained by the Lions 506-345 in total offense.
On their first possession, the Jacks were going in reverse, as running back Zach Zenner was dropped for a one-yard loss, and quarterback Austin Sumner was sacked on third down, following an incomplete pass on second down. That was followed up by a 28-yard punt from Ethan Sawyer, and Southeastern Louisiana had great field position at the SDSU 36.
The Lions went to work on the ground from there, with a 10-yard run from running back Rasheed Harrell and a 20-yard run from quarterback Bryan Bennett setting up Harrell from a yard out and the visitors were up 7-0 after 3:35 and four offensive plays.
After another Jackrabbit punt, Southeastern Louisiana got the ball back on their own -5yard line and put together a nine-play, 78-yard drive, keyed by a Bennett to Tony McCrea 39-yard pass, setting up a 35-yard field goal from Seth Sebastian to make it 10-0.
Early in the second quarter, after the fourth SDSU punt of the first half, the Lions were knocking on the door again, as Bennett hit McCrea again, this time for 62-yards to the Jacks 18. McCrea had three catches for 108 yards in the first half. But this time, the South Dakota State defense was up to the challenge as linebacker T.J. Lalley forced a Xavier Roberson fumble two plays later, and the Jacks had the ball back on their own 10.
The offense got things going on the first play of the drive, as Sumner hoked up with Zenner for 59-yards to the SLU 39-yard line. Six plays later, it was Zenner covering the final two yards and the Jacks were on the board, trailing 10-7.
The Jackrabbits defense came up with another big play on the Lions' next drive, as Winston Wright picked off Bennett on the SDSU 34 with 5:11 left in the first half.
But when South Dakota State had to punt the ball back, Bennett mounted another long drive, 11 plays and 50 yards, and a Sebastian 36-yard field goal made it 13-7 at the half.
Bennett was 12-of-16 passing for 181 yards in the first half.
Zach Zener, the leading rusher in the nation coming in, was held to just 6 yards on 7 carries in the first half, as SLU outgained SDSU 274-142 in total offense. In the first 30-minutes, the Jacks had nearly as many punts (5) as first downs (6).
Southeastern Louisiana wasted no time getting something going in the third quarter, as Roberson took the opening kickoff of the second half, 47-yards to midfield.
The SDSU defense had a chance to get off the field, but on 3rd and 7 from the Jacks 23, Bennett hit McCrea for 22 yards to the one. Bennett took it in himself on the next play, but the Lions failed on a two-point conversion attempt and it was 19-7 Lions.
That 12-point advantage lasted all of one play and 13 seconds, as Zenner scampered 75-yards on the first play from scrimmage and just like that SDSU was back in it, down 19-14.
The Jacks grabbed the lead for the first time just before the end of the third quarter, as Sumner orchestrated a 9-play, 80-yard drive, connecting on three straight passes, before picking up a bad snap and running 20-yards for a touchdown. This time it was SDSU's turn to fail on a two-point conversion and it was 20-19 Jackrabbits with one quarter to play.
With 187 yards passing on the night, Sumner moved into third place on the list of all-time SDSU quarterbacks behind Ted Wahl and Ryan Berry.
With the Lions on the move on their next possession, the SDSU defense forced another turnover as Andrew Brown picked off Bennett at the Jacks 5, returning it to the 20.
After another South Dakota State punt, Bennett had the Lions in Jacks territory again, at the SDSU 29, but again the Lions put the ball on the ground, as Bennett fumbled and Doug Peete recovered on the SDSU 31 with 9:26 left.
The Jackrabbits seemed to put it out of reach late in the fourth, as Zenner found the end zone for the third time in the game with a 10-yard run with 4:28 left to extend the lead to 27-19. Zenner finished with 128 yards rushing.
Next it was the SDSU defense getting in the score column, as Dallas Brown picked off Bennett moments later, returning it 52-yards for a touchdown and a 34-19 lead.
The Lions weren't quite done, when Roberson returned the ensuing kickoff 82-yards for a touchdown to cut the SDSU lead to 34-26 with 2:14 left.
Things got quite interesting when SLU recovered the onside kick and drove to their 49 with 1:11 left, but again it was the Jackrabbit defense coming up big, as Brown grabbed his second interception of the night to seal the victory.
For the second straight game, SDSU committed only four penalties. Southeastern Louisiana was flagged 12 times for 115 yards.
The Jackrabbits play at Nebraska next Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm in a game you can here right here on ESPN 99.1.