Some final notes from South Dakota State’s 31-10 victory over Western Illinois, its largest margin of victory during an eight-game Football Championship Subdivision win streak:
The SDSU defense continues to rank highly in the FCS in several key categories: third in red-zone defense and third-down defense plus fourth in scoring defense and sacks.
Meanwhile, the Jacks have not allowed more than 14 points to an FCS foe in any of the last six games – and that’s despite giving up three defensive scores and being minus-1 in turnover margin. SDSU has outscored opponents by 66 points in that span.
Zach Zenner continues to pile up unusual stats. The sophomore has eight TD runs after two more on Saturday, and all of them have covered at least 23 yards. Both of this week’s scoring scampers covered more than 40 yards, continuing a wild run in that department. Zenner has eight runs of at least that length: 99, 88, 87, 61, 60, 57, 43 and 42.
The 100-yard (untouched) kick return to start the game was the first such score in the career of senior Tyrel Kool. He had 10 attempts as a freshman and averaged 26.1 yards, but got just one try as a sophomore, one as a junior and one this season prior to Saturday.
Kool credited fellow returner Trevor Tiefenthaler for making the call that he should indeed run with the ball rather than taking a knee.
Despite the loss, WIU gave SDSU a few things to think about: Receiver Charles Chestnut had a career day in terms of catches (nine) and yards (123); the defense tallied four sacks compared to two over the first five games; and the offense twice converted in situations of third-and-10 or longer.
Jacks senior WR Aaron Rollin had has best game of the season, catching six passes for 73 yards. He came in with seven catches for 78 yards, missing nearly two games due to injury.
Two youngsters earned plaudits from the SDSU staff after the game. Sophomore DE Jack Sherlock made good on a couple solid weeks of practice by making two tackles - one for a loss - with a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Redshirt freshman kicker Jay Carlson had a couple quality pooch kicks in six kickoffs, pinning WIU at its 8- and 9-yard line on consecutive drives early in the second half. The first helped set up a pick six by safety Skyler Luxa.
“That’s what we asked our players to do this week - take one play and play that to perfection and then forget that and go on to the next one,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We did not do that, but we’re going to continue to talk about that.”
Injury update: Stiegelmeier guessed that DT Andy Mink and DE Doug Peete are questionable for this week’s game at Northern Iowa, while Kool and DT David Hettiger figured to be OK.
“David Rule, our trainer, will be the MVP this week,” Stiegelmeier said.
Here’s a story from the Northwest Herald about the car accident that took the life of Anthony Pauls, a close friend of SDSU junior TE Vince Benedetto.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.