Strong second quarter helps Jacks in Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Third-ranked South Dakota State forced four first-half turnovers and erupted for 28 points in the second quarter en route to cruising to a 42-23 victory over Indiana State Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

The Jackrabbits, who upped their winning streak to six games, improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Indiana State dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.

SDSU took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards on eight plays to open the scoring. Redshirt freshman quarterback J'Bore Gibbs, who accounted for four first-half touchdowns, tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kallan Hart to complete the drive.

On Indiana State's first play from scrimmage, Jackrabbit defensive end Reece Winkelman came up with a strip-sack, also coming up with the recovery at the Sycamores' 10-yard line. However, SDSU came up empty, missing a short field goal.

The Sycamores tied the game at 7-all later in the first quarter, taking advantage of the lone Jackrabbit turnover of the game – an interception by Keawvis Cummings. Indiana State needed only one play to score as Kurtis Wilderman connected with Matae Thomas from 28 yards out.

The Jackrabbits owned the second quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns 15 seconds apart. The first touchdown was a 23-yard pass from Gibbs to Jaxon Janke, finishing off a six-play, 80-yard drive that included a 21-yard connection from Gibbs to Janke on the previous play.

After forcing and recovering the third Indiana State fumble of the half – forced by Logan Backhaus and recovered by Michael Griffin II – SDSU cashed in on the next offensive play as Gibbs found Cade Johnson for a 25-yard score.

SDSU built its lead to 28-7 later in the quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Pierre Strong, Jr.

Indiana State ended the Jackrabbit scoring run with a 37-yard field goal by Jerry Nunez, but SDSU took advantage of another short field after a shanked punt in the final minute to go up 35-10 at halftime. The three-play, 45-yard drive began – after a penalty -- with passes of 30 and 19 yards from Gibbs to Johnson and Adam Anderson, respectively, before Gibbs carried in from a yard out.

Johnson finished the game with season highs of seven catches and 134 receiving yards, while Strong carried 17 times for 144 yards. Strong scored the lone Jackrabbit touchdown of the second half on a 19-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Sycamores pulled to within 35-17 midway through the third quarter on a fake field goal as Nunez lofted a pass over the middle that was hauled in by Zach Larkin for a 14-yard touchdown. Dante Jones II added the final tally for either team with a 3-yard touchdown catch from Wilderman in the fourth quarter.

The SDSU defense recorded a season-high eight sacks in the contest, with Tolu Ogunrinde leading the way with two sacks. Nine different Jackrabbits were credited with at least a half-sack, including Don Gardner, who led the team with seven total tackles.

The Jackrabbits ended the afternoon with a 452-338 advantage in total offense. Gibbs completed 18-of-28 passes for a season-high 274 yards.

Wilderman was 19-of-31 passing for 196 yards, while Peterson Kerlegrand gained 107 yards on the ground on 19 carries.

Michael Thomas led all players with 10 tackles for Indiana State.

The Jackrabbits prepare for the annual Dakota Marker game against top-ranked North Dakota State October 26. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.