BROOKINGS- South Dakota State's running game was on full display Saturday afternoon, racking up 369 yards in a 38-10 victory over Drake at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
The third-ranked Jackrabbits improved to 2-1 overall, while Drake dropped to 0-3 on the season.
SDSU scored on each of its first two offensive possessions, marching 70 yards on 14 plays on the opening drive of the game before settling for a 26-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri.
The Jackrabbits needed only two plays to cover 80 yards and find the end zone on their next drive. Kanin Nelson, starting at quarterback in place of an injured J'Bore Gibbs for the second week in a row, hit tight end Zach Heins for 31 yards before Pierre Strong, Jr. broke through the line and rambled down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown run.
Drake cut the margin to 10-3, putting together a 10-play, 70-yard drive early in the second quarter that ended on a 22-yard field goal by Nathan De Bruin.
SDSU continued to put together big plays in the running game, pushing its advantage to 17-3 late in the second quarter. A career-best 52-yard run by C.J. Wilson moved the ball to the Drake 29 and Mikey Daniel scored from five yards out three plays later.
The Jackrabbits turned to STATS FCS Walter Payton Award candidate Cade Johnson to extend their lead to 31-3 in the third quarter. Johnson, who moved into the SDSU top 10 for career receiving yards in the game, ran for 76 yards on an end around on the second play of SDSU's first possession of the second half, putting the ball at the Drake 5. On the next play, Johnson caught a pass from Nelson in the right flat and got around a defender for his first touchdown of the season.
Later in the third quarter, Johnson hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Nelson in traffic in the back of the end zone. The Papillion, Nebraska, native ended the day with five catches for 80 yards.
Johnson's two touchdowns came on either side of the Jackrabbits squandering an opportunity to add their lead by missing a short field goal after blocking a punt and recovering at the Drake 16. SDSU also lost a fumble near the goal line in the fourth quarter.
The SDSU defense surrendered its first touchdown in seven quarters early in the fourth quarter as Drake put together a six-play, 90-yard scoring drive. A 45-yard pass from Ian Corwin to Drew Lauer put the Bulldogs deep in SDSU territory before Corwin connected with Shane Feller for a 10-yard touchdown.
Backup running back Blair Mulholland capped the scoring for the Jackrabbits with a 17-yard touchdown scamper around left end late in the fourth quarter.
Strong paced the SDSU ground game with 129 yards on 11 carries, while Wilson added 117 yards on 10 attempts. Nelson completed 12-of-18 passes for 159 yards.
The Jackrabbits held a 534-289 advantage in total offense. Most of Drake's yardage came through the air as Corwin completed 19-of-34 passes for 232 yards. Devin Cates led all players with 10 receptions for 95 yards.
Seven Wilson led the SDSU defense with seven tackles, while Logan Backhaus contributed six tackles, one of two Jackrabbit interceptions and a pass breakup. Freshman safety Chase Norblade tallied the other interception — the first of his career.
The Jackrabbits continue their month-long homestand by hosting Southern Utah in the 53rd Annual Beef Bowl on Sept. 21. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Drake leads the all-time series, 8-5, although the Jackrabbits have won each of the last four meetings
Johnson ended the day in eighth place for career receiving yards at SDSU with 1,889, passing Glen Fox (1,832 yards from 2006-09), J.D. Berreth (1,868 yards from 1986-88) and Aaron Rollin (1,878 yards 2009-12) on the afternoon
Johnson also recorded the 100th reception of his career in the game, finishing the day with 104
Johnson recorded the sixth multi-touchdown game of his career and moved into fifth place in all-time touchdown receptions at SDSU with 22, breaking a tie with Jason Schneider (20 from 2011-14) and also passing Dallas Goedert (21 from 2014-17)
The Jackrabbits also ran for 369 yards last season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Sept. 15, 2018)
SDSU had two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since Nov. 12, 2016, when Brady Mengarelli (161 yards) and Isaac Wallace (102 yards) accomplished the feat in a home win over South Dakota
Strong topped the 100-yard mark for the sixth time in his career, while Wilson reached the century mark for the second time
Daniel moved into a tie with Cory Koenig (2004-07) for 10th place in career rushing touchdowns at SDSU with 25
The Jackrabbits improved to 22-2 in four seasons at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and extended their home winning streak to 13 games
SDSU has scored in 10 of 12 quarters this season
Attendance was 11,565