BROOKINGS, S.D. - On a record-setting day by South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion, the Jackrabbits scored on all five of their offensive possessions in the first half and went on to defeat Northern Iowa, 37-22, in second-round action of the Football Championship Playoffs Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
With their sixth consecutive victory, the fifth-seeded Jackrabbits improved to 10-2 overall, reaching the 10-win mark for the first time in program history. SDSU is in line to host New Hampshire in quarterfinal action either Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. New Hampshire knocked off No. 4 seed Central Arkansas, 21-15, Saturday.
SDSU kicker Chase Vinatieri opened the scoring with a 29-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game, capping an 11-play, 63-yard drive. Christion completed passes of 13 and 11 yards to All-America tight end Dallas Goedert on the first two plays before turning to the ground game to set up the field goal.
The Jackrabbits upped the lead to 10-0 with a seven-play, 70-yard scoring march. Christion completed all five passes on the drive, including a 40-yard strike to Marquise Lewis that set up Cade Johnson's 2-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-goal. The touchdown pass was the 66th of Christion's career, breaking a tie with Austin Sumner (65 touchdown passes from 2011-14).
UNI countered with its first touchdown of the game, putting together an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive that bridged the end of the first quarter and start of the second. The Panthers' Daurice Fountain leaped up and over a Jackrabbit defender to haul in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Eli Dunne in the back left corner of the end zone.
Earlier in the game, Goedert went over the 1,000-yard mark for receiving for the second year in a row.
Johnson put the Jackrabbits back in scoring position with a 70-yard kickoff return to the UNI 29. The Panthers appeared to push SDSU out of scoring range with a sack on the ensuing drive, but Vinatieri came on to boot a career-long 55-yard field goal.
SDSU pushed the advantage to 26-7 with a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes of the second quarter. The Jackrabbits again cashed in on a fourth-down play as Christion scored from 21 yards out on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-1. The two-point attempt failed.
The Jackrabbits converted a third and final time on fourth down late in the first half. Mikey Daniel gained four yards on fourth-and-1 to extend the drive before Christion connected with Goedert over the middle for a 28-yard touchdown.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Jackrabbits sealed the victory with another record-setting touchdown pass from Christion. His 30-yard scoring pass to Jacob Brown at the 12:03 mark of the fourth quarter was his third of the game and 31st of the season, breaking the single-season mark he previously set a year ago and shared with Ryan Berry (30 touchdown passes in 2008).
This time, the Jackrabbits converted the two-point attempt on a pass from Christion to Jake Wieneke.
Vinatieri hit his career-best third field goal, a 44-yarder late in the fourth quarter that was sandwiched around 1-yard touchdown runs for Northern Iowa by the usual starting middle linebacker Jared Farley and Trevor Allen.
SDSU finished with a 380-369 advantage in total offense. Christion completed 19-of-28 passes for 237 yards and added 38 yards on seven carries. Brady Mengarelli led the rushing attack with 45 yards on 18 carries, with Isaac Wallace adding 40 yards on 10 attempts.
Goedert led the receiving corps with six catches for 83 yards.
For UNI, Dunne was 26-of-36 passing for 287 yards, with Briley Moore recording six receptions for 90 yards. Marcus Weymiller gained 59 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
Redshirt freshman Logan Backhaus led the Jackrabbits with eight tackles, adding two pass breakups and a forced fumble. Dalton Cox, Jordan Brown and Nick Farina each registered seven stops.
The Panthers were led by Duncan Ferch with 12 tackles, followed by 10 from Farley.
* UNI leads the all-time series, 30-21-2
* Saturday's meeting was the first in postseason play between the two Missouri Valley Football Conference squads
* SDSU improved to 5-6 in FCS playoff games
* The Jackrabbits had won nine games in a season eight times
* SDSU defeated a ranked opponent for the fifth game in a row as UNI entered the game ranked 20th in the STATS FCS media poll and 21st by the FCS coaches
* Wieneke caught three passes for 50 yards, upping his career total to 272 and moving to within one of the MVFC record of 273 held by Lance Lenoir (Western Illinois, 2013-16)
* Christion threw for and rushed for at least one touchdown each in the same game for the sixth time this season
* Goedert became the third player in program history with consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, joining Jeff Tiefenthaler (1985-86) and Wieneke (three straight from 2014-16)
* Vinatieri improved to 12-of-13 on field goals this season and has made nine attempts in a row since his lone miss in the regular season matchup against Northern Iowa on Oct. 14
* Attendance was 7,518; temperature at kickoff was 54 degrees