It took a full team effort, but the South Dakota State Jackrabbits came away with a 31-26 victory over the Southern Illinois Salukis in the FCS Quarterfinals at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings on Sunday.
Both teams scored early in the first quarter, with the Saluki touchdown coming on a one yard run by senior guard ZeVeyo Furcron. The Salukis rattled off 13 straight points in the second quarter before Jacks junior kicker Cole Frahm connected from 34 yards out as time expired, sending the game into halftime with the Salukis leading 20-10.
The Jacks started the scoring in the second half when freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski connected with sophomore wide receiver Jadon Janke on a touchdown for the second time in the game. The Jacks took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Gronowski ran the ball in from 67 yards out. Freshman running back Isaiah Davis added an insurance touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. The Salukis would not go away quietly. Junior quarterback Stone Labanowitz connected with senior wide receiver Landon Lenoir on a touchdown, but the two-point conversion was unsuccessful. The Salukis got the ball back, but Jacks senior safety Michael Griffin II intercepted the ball with 13 seconds left to seal it.
Gronowski led the Jacks by completing nine of 16 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, Gronowski had 142 rushing yards on 13 attempts and one touchdown. Defensively, senior linebacker Logan Backhaus and redshirt freshman Adam Bock led the way with 14 tackles and 13 tackles, respectively.
Labanowitz led the Salukis by completing 25 of 36 passes for 247 yards. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Lenoir had 129 receiving yards on six catches.
The Salukis outgained the Jacks with a 443-414 yards advantage. They also held an 11-minute edge in time of possession.
The Jacks (7-1) will host the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens (7-0) in the FCS Semifinals at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.