Sixth-ranked South Dakota State scored 34 consecutive points and the Jackrabbit offense rolled up 546 yards of total offense en route to a 55-14 season-opening victory over Butler (Ind.) Saturday night at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Walter Payton Award candidate Zach Zenner wasted little time in putting the Jackrabbits on the board. Zenner, a junior from Eagan, Minn., ran for 39 yards on his first carry of the season, then scampered 36 yards on the second play of the drive for a touchdown only 45 seconds into the game.
Butler answered with a touchdown midway through the first quarter, putting together a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Quarterback Matt Lancaster scored from two yards out after connecting on a 29-yard pass play to Zack Wolfe earlier in the drive.
From there it was all Jackrabbits. SDSU marched back down the field, capping a 10-play, 62-yard drive on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner to Jason Schneider.
The Jackrabbits tacked on 17 points in the second quarter to take a 31-7 lead into the locker room. Zenner reached the end zone for the second time in the game from four yards out to finish off a 10-play, 90-yard drive before Sumner connected with Brandon Hubert on a 5-yard touchdown six minutes later.
SDSU took advantage of a short punt just before the half to put three more points on the board on a 35-yard field goal by Justin Syrovatka.
Syrovatka put his name in the Jackrabbit record book midway through the third quarter as he made his 14th consecutive field goal attempt, driving a kick through the uprights from 36 yards out to put SDSU ahead 34-7.
Schneider, who recorded career highs with 10 catches for 167 yards, capped the 34-point run with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Sumner at the 6:12 mark of the third quarter, following a Doug Peete interception.
Butler ended the streak late in the third quarter with another long scoring drive. Lancaster ran for 44 yards to set up Trae Heeter's 5-yard touchdown run as par of a 10-play, 88-yard drive.
Backup quarterback Nate Meyer led the Jackrabbits on a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, connecting with Brandon Andrews for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Jackrabbit defense wrapped up the scoring as cornerback Je Ryan Butler corralled a deflected pass and ran 39 yards for a touchdown.
Sumner, who moved into sixth place on the Jackrabbit career passing chart, finished the night 22-of-32 passing for 326 yards and three touchdowns. The junior from Brandon hooked up with eight different receivers. Meyer was 3-for-3 passing for 32 yards and his first collegiate touchdown pass.
Zenner tallied 117 yards on 16 carries. Of his 117 yards, 93 came in the first quarter.
Butler was limited to 272 yards of total offense. Lancaster accounted for most of the Bulldogs' yardage, leading the team with 63 rushing yards on six carries, while also completing 17-of-26 passes for 140 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Charles Elmore led the Jackrabbit defense with seven tackles, including three for loss.
The Jackrabbits return to action Sept. 7 at North Dakota. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
NOTES: Saturday's meeting was the first-ever contest between South Dakota State and Butler … the Jackrabbits improved to 2-0 against Pioneer Football League opponents since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2004 … SDSU recorded its eighth consecutive home victory … … the Jackrabbits improved to 11-6 in season openers under head coach John Stiegelmeier … the previous record for consecutive made field goals was 13 by Parker Douglass, bridging the 2006 and 2007 seasons … Sumner topped the 100-yard for the seventh time in his career … Sumner ended the day with 5,151 career yards passing, moving past both Mike Busch (4,980 yards from 1984-85) and Todd McDonald (4,999 yards from 1990-93) … Zenner moved into seventh place in career rushing yards with 2,631 as he moved past Darwin Gonnerman (2,598 yards from 1966-68) … Zenner posted the 10th 100-yard game of his career … Schneider's 167 receiving yards were the most by a Jackrabbit since Dale Moss caught seven passes for 178 yards at Missouri State in 2011 … redshirt freshman linebacker Tom Peitz recorded his first career interception — one of three on the night for SDSU … the Jackrabbits committed 10 penalties for 103 yards, while Butler was penalized only twice for 11 yards … attendance was 9,729