SD Showdown Series: Jackrabbits Outlast USD, 31-28

VERMILLION, S.D. - Taryn Christion threw for three touchdowns and the South Dakota State came up with three key stops in the second half to defeat the University of South Dakota, 31-28, in the regular season finale for both teams at the DakotaDome.

With their fifth consecutive win, including their fourth in a row against a ranked opponent, the fifth-ranked Jackrabbits improved to 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. USD, ranked 15th, dropped to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in league play. Both teams will find out their postseason fate during the Football Championship Subdivision Playoff Selection Show at 10 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

After a scoreless first quarter between two of the highest-scoring offenses in the FCS ranks, the situation quickly changed early in the second stanza, with SDSU putting up a pair of scores 13 seconds apart. Chase Vinatieri put the Jackrabbits on the board with a 45-yard field goal, and, after a Jordan Brown interception and return deep into USD territory on the Coyotes' first play of the ensuing drive, Christion connected with Jake Wieneke for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

USD answered with a 49-yard touchdown run by Michael Fredrick a minute later, before the Jackrabbits hit on a big play. Christion found Wieneke near midfield and the three-time All-American spun out of a would-be tackle for a 69-yard touchdown that gave SDSU a 17-7 lead.

Fredrick's second touchdown of the day, a 17-yard run midway through the second half, trimmed the SDSU advantage to 17-14 heading into halftime.

The Coyotes took what would be their lone lead of the day on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chris Streveler to Dakarai Allen late in the third quarter. The USD score came after the Jackrabbits stuffed the Coyotes on consecutive plays at the 1-yard line on the previous drive, ending a 14-play, 96-yard drive without any points.

SDSU countered on its next drive with a 10-play, 65-yard drive, during which the Jackrabbits converted on fourth-and-3 from the USD with a 13-yard run by Christion. Mikey Daniel leaped over and through the Coyote defense for a 1-yard touchdown run.

After USD missed a 42-yard field goal that would have tied the game, the Jackrabbits pushed the lead back to 10 points at 31-21 with an eight-play, 75-yard drive. A leaping one-handed catch by Dallas Goedert for 10 yards on third-and-1 kept the drive alive before Christion found Cade Johnson open in the right flat for a 17-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 52 seconds to play.

The Jackrabbit defense came up with its second turnover of the day on the next Coyote drive as Eric Kleinschmit forced a fumble and Christian Rozeboom recovered at the SDSU 23. Rozeboom led all players with 10 tackles, followed by nine from Chris Balster and eight by Nick Farina.

The Coyotes got the ball back after burning all three of their timeouts and drove the length of the field to pull to within 31-28 on a 3-yard pass from Streveler to Allen.

However, SDSU secured the victory by recovering the onside kick and managing to run out the clock thanks to some scrambling by Christion. The junior quarterback completed 23-of-36 passes for 299 yards and tied Austin Sumner (2011-14) atop the SDSU career charts for touchdown passes with 65.

Goedert ended the day by tying a season high with 11 catches for 117 yards, while Isaac Wallace gained 69 yards on 10 carries.

USD finished with a 583-386 advantage in total offense as Streveler ended the day 27-of-39 passing for 286 yards and added 65 yards on 12 carries.

The Coyotes had two running backs go over the century mark as Fredrick tallied 123 yards on 15 carries and Kai Henry added 109 yards on 17 carries.

Allen posted a team-high seven catches for 83 yards.

Should SDSU be awarded a top-eight seed for the FCS playoffs, the Jackrabbits would receive a first-round bye and host a second-round game Dec. 2. If the Jackrabbits are not included in the top eight seeds, they would play Nov. 25 at a site to be determined.

* SDSU leads the all-time series, 53-50-7, and has won nine consecutive games in the in-state rivalry dating back to 2001
* The Jackrabbits finished with nine regular season wins for the first time as an FCS program
* Wieneke's two touchdown catches were his only receptions of the day as he upped his season touchdown total to 13 and career total to 56
* Goedert topped the 100-yard mark for the fifth time in the last six games and sixth time this season
* Goedert took over sole possession of third place in career receptions at SDSU with 186, breaking a tie with Jason Schneider (175 receptions from 2011-14)
* Rozeboom registered double figures in tackles for the seventh time in 2017, giving him 103 stops for the season
* SDSU is 55-25 in MVFC regular season games since joining the league in 2008
* Attendance was 10,147