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VERMILLION — Top-ranked South Dakota State shrugged off a bit of a sluggish start to score on its final seven possessions of the game in a 37-3 victory over South Dakota in a battle of Missouri Valley Football Conference unbeatens Saturday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

The Jackrabbits, who ran their winning streak to 22 games dating back to early in the 2022 season, improved to 8-0 overall and took over sole possession of the league lead with a 5-0 record. USD, which entered the game ranked fourth in the Stats Perform media poll and ninth by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches, dropped to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the MVFC.

USD held the advantage in the opening quarter, putting up the lone points of the opening stanza on the first drive of the game. The Coyotes put together an 11-play, 42-yard drive that ended with a 50-yard field goal by Will Leyland.

Flipping to the second quarter, the Jackrabbits began to assert themselves on both sides of the ball, starting with a methodical, 14-play, 93-yard drive that included three conversions on third-down plays. Jadon Janke took the ball on a reverse and scored from seven yards out for the first touchdown of the game.

On the next SDSU possession, the Jackrabbits needed only four plays to score. A 30-yard pass play from Mark Gronowski to Jadon Janke set up a 20-yard touchdown run by Amar Johnson for a 14-3 SDSU lead.

SDSU kept the momentum firmly in its favor on the ensuing possession when Tucker Large batted an Aidan Bouman pass and came away with the interception in Jackrabbit territory in the final minute of the half after a second deflection. The Jackrabbits cashed by moving 40 yards to set up a career-long 49-yard field goal by Hunter Dustman at the first-half horn.

Dustman added field goals of 22 and 47 yards in the third quarter to push the Jackrabbit advantage to 23-3 while the SDSU defense continued to keep the Coyote offense at bay. Dustman's first field goal of the second half was set up by a 52-yard catch and run by Jaxon Janke.

The Jackrabbits continued to put together sustained scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Amar Johnson scored on his second 20-yard touchdown run of the game to cap an 11-play, 72-yard drive midway through the period and Angel Johnson put the end to an eight-play, 67-yard drive by the second-string offense in the closing minutes.

SDSU finished with a 473-183 advantage in total offense, including a 266-50 margin in rushing. The Jackrabbits also accumulated a season-best 35 minutes and 59 seconds in possession time. Isaiah Davis led the rushing attack by committee with 69 yards on 17 carries, followed by 66 yards on eight carries by Amar Johnson. Angel Johnson added 52 yards on seven carries.

Gronowski ended the afternoon 13-of-19 passing for 207 yards. Jaxon Janke tallied 93 yards on his three receptions, with twin brother, Jadon, adding three catches for 55 yards. Davis also caught three passes for 32 yards.

USD was led in the rushing department by Travis Theis with 29 yards on nine carries. J.J. Galbreath paced Coyote receivers with eight catches for 65 yards, while Bouman finished with 133 yards on 17-of-31 passing.

Jason Freeman and Isaiah Stalbird each tallied seven tackles to lead the Jackrabbits, with Stalbird adding SDSU's second interception of the game in the fourth quarter. Dalys Beanum contributed two pass breakups.

Coyote linebacker Brock Mogensen led all players with 12 tackles.

The Jackrabbits continue a run of games against ranked opponents by hosting North Dakota State in the annual Dakota Marker game on November 4.

The Coyotes return to the road next week for what aims to be another top-25 matchup as they face 11th-ranked Southern Illinois at 1:00 PM in Carbondale, Illinois.

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Gallery Credit: Scott Prather

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