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    SDSU FB: Jacks head south for quarterfinals

    The South Dakota State University football team continues its march through the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by traveling Saturday to face fourth-seeded Kennesaw State in quarterfinal action.

    Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central) at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia. The game will be aired exclusively on ESPN3.com.

    The fifth-seeded Jackrabbits enter the matchup with a 9-2 overall record. SDSU extended its winning streak to five games with a 51-6 drubbing of Duquesne in second-round action Dec. 1 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

    KSU, meanwhile, moved on to the quarterfinals with a 13-10 home victory over Wofford. The Owls improved to 11-1 overall and have won their last 11 games since a 24-20 season-opening loss to Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Georgia State.

    SDSU's playoff run is presented by First PREMIER Bank.

    THE SERIES: Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Kennesaw State on the gridiron. The Jackrabbits also will be facing a member of the Big South Conference for the first time.

    PLAYOFF HISTORY: South Dakota State has become a fixture in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs as it is making its seventh consecutive appearance and eighth since the 2009 campaign. The Jackrabbits have compiled a 7-7 overall record in their playoff appearances, reaching the quarterfinals in each of its last three playoff runs (2016, 2017, 2018).

    SDSU advanced to the FCS quarterfinals for the first time in 2016 and made its first semifinal appearance last year. The Jackrabbits won first-round playoff contests in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and has been a top-eight seed each of the last three season.

    The Jackrabbits are undefeated in home playoff contests, posting a 5-0 record. SDSU defeated Eastern Illinois at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in 2012 and improved to 4-0 in postseason games at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium with a 51-6 win against Duquesne last week.

    RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State entered the 2018 season with its highest-ever rankings in Football Championship Subdivision polls, checking in at No. 3 in both the STATS FCS media poll and AFCA FCS Coaches' Poll. It marked the fifth time in six years the Jackrabbits entered a season with a top-10 national ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision and surpassed their No. 4 ranking in the 2017 STATS FCS Preseason Poll.

    Defending national champion North Dakota State continues to hold the top spot in both national polls. The Jackrabbits attained their highest-ever ranking in a Football Championship Subdivision poll by climbing to second in the STATS FCS media rankings prior to being defeated at Northern Iowa on Oct. 20.

    Holding the fifth spot in both major polls the last couple weeks, SDSU has now appeared in the top 25 of 91 consecutive media polls dating back to October 2012. 

    CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four captains:

    • Jordan Brown, Sr., cornerback, Scottsdale, Arizona;
    • Taryn Christion, Sr., quarterback, Sioux Falls;
    • Dalton Cox, Sr., linebacker, Aberdeen, and
    • Christian Rozeboom, Jr., linebacker, Sioux Center, Iowa.

    Christion and Rozeboom are each in their second seasons as captains.

    BIG-PLAY JACKS: Each of South Dakota State's first five touchdowns against Missouri State on Nov. 3 covered at least 32 yards. That trend has continued in recent weeks as SDSU scored a combined 11 more times on plays of 30-plus yards versus Southern Illinois, South Dakota and Duquesne. Of the Jackrabbits' 68 touchdowns scored this season, 29 have been on plays of 30 or more yards.

    Redshirt freshman running back Pierre Strong, Jr. has paced the big-play Jackrabbit offense the last month with nine touchdown runs - all of which have covered at least 24 yards. Strong scored on runs of 55 and 54 yards versus Missouri State to become the first SDSU player with two 50-plus-yard touchdowns in the same game since Zach Zenner tallied three (TD runs of 69 and 60 yards and a 60-yard TD reception) in a 2014 FCS playoff game at Montana State.

    Strong added three-touchdown performances against Southern Illinois (72, 43, 24 yards) and South Dakota (30, 73, 46) to close out the regular season. He recorded a 52-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter of the Jackrabbits' 51-6 playoff win over Duquesne.

    I'LL SECOND THAT: South Dakota State has dominated the second quarter during its current five-game winning streak. The Jackrabbits have outscored the opposition by a combined 96-21 in the second quarter of those games, starting with a 21-0 advantage at Illinois State on Oct. 27, followed by a 31-7 outburst against Missouri State on Nov. 3. SDSU also scored 20 points in the second quarter at Southern Illinois on Nov. 10 and 17 versus Duquesne in Dec. 1 playoff action.

    For the season, SDSU holds a 155-49 scoring advantage in the second quarter.

    SECOND-HALF SURGES: SDSU has a long history of peaking in the second half of the league season since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008. With their 49-27 victory Nov. 17 against South Dakota, the Jackrabbits have compiled a 35-9 record in the second half of the league schedule over the past 11 seasons, running the table with four wins in 2013, 2017 and 2018 en route to Football Championship Subdivision playoff berths.

    SDSU has posted a 3-1 record in the second half seven other times. 

    BALANCED ATTACKS: South Dakota State totaled 500-plus yards of total offense for the fifth time this season, racking up 656 yards Nov. 10 against Southern Illinois.

    In their Oct. 6 overtime victory over Indiana State, the Jackrabbits topped the 500-yard mark without a 100-yard rusher or receiver. Three running backs - Pierre Strong, Jr., Isaac Wallace and Mikey Daniel - all ran for at least 70 yards, with Strong leading the way with 95 yards on only six carries.

    The Jackrabbits' 20 receptions against Indiana State were spread among eight different players, with Kal Hart and Adam Anderson leading the receiving corps by each tallying four catches for 57 yards.

    PUSH 'EM BACK: SDSU matched a season high with 11 tackles for loss Nov. 3 against Missouri State, while setting team highs with four sacks and four interceptions. The Jackrabbits' 11 TFLs resulted in 51 lost yards in holding MSU to 30 net yards rushing on 31 attempts, marking the second week in a row and third time this season SDSU held an opponent to less than 100 yards on the ground.

    The Jackrabbit defense recorded eight tackles for loss and limited Duquesne to 84 yards rushing en route to victory in FCS playoff action Dec. 1.

    STIG COACHES 250TH GAME: Jackrabbit mentor John Stiegelmeier marked his 250th game as head coach with a 36-7 victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 13. In 22 seasons, Stiegelmeier has led the Jackrabbits to a 157-99 career record (.613 winning percentage), including a 61-27 mark in MVFC contests.

    REWRITING THE RECORD BOOK: With its 90-point outburst Sept. 15 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, South Dakota State broke a 96-year-old scoring record. The previous mark of 85 points was set against Columbus College in 1922.

    The Jackrabbits also set new team standards for total offense (926 yards), passing yards (557) and passing touchdowns (8). Individually, Chase Vinatieri set a school record by kicking 11 extra points.

    FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: Six different Jackrabbits scored their first collegiate touchdowns in the Sept. 15 rout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

    Freshman tight end Blake Kunz opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown reception on SDSU's first drive of the game, while Adam Anderson followed with a 31-yard touchdown reception later in the first quarter for his first collegiate score.

    In the second half, running backs Pierre Strong, Jr. (66 yards) and C.J. Wilson (37 yards) found paydirt on screen passes, with Blair Mulholland (14-yard run) and Michael Wandmaker (76-yard reception) closing out the scoring.

    WALLACE SIDELINED: South Dakota State's leading rusher, Isaac Wallace, suffered a season-ending injury in the Oct. 13 contest against Youngstown State.

    A senior from Omaha, Wallace was enjoying his best season in a Jackrabbit uniform, highlighted by three touchdowns on runs of 50-plus yards.

    Prior to his injury, Wallace ranked second among Football Championship Subdivision players with an average of 9.39 yards per carry, gaining 413 yards on only 44 carries. His first three touchdowns this season covered 58, 79 and 61 yards, while his fourth rushing touchdown of the season was a 2-yard run in overtime that lifted the Jacks to a 54-51 victory over Indiana State on Oct. 6.

    1,000-YARD CLUB: Sophomore wide receiver Cade Johnson became the latest Jackrabbit to reach the 1,000-yard mark for receiving in a season, hitting the milestone with a career-high 198 yards on seven catches Nov. 10 at Southern Illinois. Johnson enters the weekend with 1,171 yards on 60 receptions - an average of 19.5 yards per catch.

    Johnson's 198 yards at SIU marked the seventh most in a game by a Jackrabbit receiver. It also marked his sixth 100-yard game of the 2018 season and his fourth (of five) multi-touchdown game.

    His season receiving total of 1,171 yards is the sixth-best in team history, while his 60 receptions rank outside the top 10 for a single single season.

    SDSU has had a 1,000-yard receiver each of the last six seasons, starting with Jason Schneider in 2013. Jake Wieneke tallied three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-16, with Dallas Goedert recording back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus yards in 2016 and 2017.

    JOHNSON TIES RECORDS: South Dakota State wide receiver Cade Johnson became the latest Jackrabbit to tie the SDSU single-game record for touchdown receptions when he scored four times Sept. 8 against Montana State.

    Don Bartlett originally set the record with four touchdown receptions against North Dakota State in 1949. That mark went unmatched for 67 years until Dallas Goedert caught four TDs against Western Illinois in 2016 and Jake Wieneke scored on four pass plays in the 2017 season opener against Duquesne.

    Johnson's season total of 16 touchdown receptions is tied for the Jackrabbit single-season mark previously set in three separate campaigns (2014, 2016, 2017) by Jake Wieneke.

    FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: South Dakota State University running back Pierre Strong, Jr. was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year on Nov. 21, becoming the fourth Jackrabbit in the last eight seasons to earn the award.

    A redshirt freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas, Strong closed the second half of the conference schedule with three consecutive 100-yard games to take over the team lead in rushing. He enters the week with 869 rushing yards and is averaging 11.0 yards per carry. All nine of his rushing touchdowns have covered at least 24 yards.

    Strong is 131 yards away from becoming the first Jackrabbit freshman running back since Josh Ranek (1,881 yards in 1998) to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

    Strong was honored as MVFC Newcomer of the Week after each of the last two games of the regular season, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns at Southern Illinois on Nov. 10, followed by a career-best 253 yards on only 17 carries with three more scores in the Nov. 17 matchup with South Dakota.

    He joins Austin Sumner (2011), Jake Wieneke (2014) and Christian Rozeboom (2016) as Jackrabbits to win the MVFC Freshman of the Year award.

    Strong was joined on the MVFC All-Newcomer Team by redshirt freshman nose tackle Krockett Krolikowski and graduate transfer safety Brandon Snyder.

    ALL-MVFC: Led by three-time honorees Taryn Christion and Christian Rozeboom, 11 South Dakota State University players were honored Nov. 26 as members of the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference Team.

    A senior quarterback from Sioux Falls, Christion shared first-team honors with North Dakota State's Easton Stick after passing for a league-best 28 touchdowns during the regular season. Christion completed 163-of-270 passes for 2,549 yards and compiled an efficiency rating of 169.5 in the first 10 contests of the season.

    Christion was the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and was a second-team all-conference selection in 2017. He holds MVFC career records for touchdown passes, passing yards and total offense.

    Rozeboom, a junior linebacker from Sioux Center, Iowa, earned first-team all-MVFC recognition for the third time. He tallied a team-best 73 tackles during the regular season, including 4.5 tackles for loss, while adding two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Rozeboom reached double figures in tackles three times, including a season-high 13 in the regular season finale against South Dakota.

    Garnering first-team all-conference recognition for the second year in a row was senior cornerback Jordan Brown. A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Brown led the squad with 10 pass breakups and shared the team lead with three interceptions in regular season play. Of his 22 tackles, 19 were solo stops.

    Rounding out the Jackrabbits' five first-team selections were wide receiver Cade Johnson and offensive lineman Tiano Pupungatoa. Johnson, a sophomore from Papillion, Nebraska, has been the top receiving target this season, hauling in 52 receptions with league-bests of 1,072 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns through the regular season. He was a member of the MVFC All-Newcomer Team a year ago, when he set a Jackrabbit single-season record for kickoff return yards with 839.

    Pupungatoa, a senior from River Falls, Wisconsin, is a three-year starter at guard for the Jackrabbits. He helped power the SDSU offense to averages of 45.4 points and 511.2 yards per game - both of which lead the 10-team league during the regular year.

    Three other Jackrabbits received second-team recognition, including defensive end Ryan Earith. A junior from Papillion, Nebraska, Earith posted team highs of 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks heading into postseason play. He also forced and recovered a fumble.

    The other two second-team honorees came from the special teams unit and hail from Yankton as senior punter Brady Hale and Bradey Sorenson were honored. A four-year starter, Hale averaged 42.5 yards per attempt during the regular season, landing 19 of his 43 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

    Sorenson has handled the long-snapping duties each of the past two seasons for the Jackrabbits and has been perfect on his snaps for placekicks and punts this season.

    Completing the SDSU honorees were honorable mention selections Adam Anderson, Evan Greeneway and Luke Sellers. Anderson ranked second on the squad in all three main receiving categories through the regular season with 42 catches for 669 yards and six touchdowns.

    Greeneway, a junior tackle from Yankton, and Sellers, a junior fullback from Papillion, Nebraska, have both been key members of a Jackrabbit offensive unit that has paved the way for the team to average 241.4 yards per game on the ground - the program's highest rushing output in the Division I era.

    Selections to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference Team were based on a vote conducted among the league's head coaches, sports information directors and select media.

    BLOCK THAT KICK: The Jackrabbit special teams unit has gotten its hands on five punt attempts and two extra point trie in recent weeks, blocking two punts against Missouri State on Nov. 3 and again versus Duquesne in the opening round of the FCS playoffs on Dec. 1.

    In a Nov. 10 game against Southern Illinois, Don Gardner's punt block resulted in a touchdown as freshman backup wide receiver Jadon Janke, who was making his collegiate debut, scooped up the ball at the goal line.

    Janke's touchdown was the first on a blocked punt by the Jackrabbits since the inaugural game at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium against Drake in 2016, when Cody Hazelett came up with the block and Jake Harms scored the touchdown. The last time SDSU turned the feat on the road was in a 2009 FCS playoff game at Montana.

    Against Missouri State on Nov. 3, Seven Wilson deflected the Bears' first punt to set up the opening score of the game. In the fourth quarter, fellow sophomore linebacker Preston Tetzlaff blocked a punt that gave the Jackrabbits another short field that led to the final score of the game.

    Wilson also deflected a pair of punt attempts against Duquesne. The Jackrabbits' Krockett Krolikowski also blocked the extra-point attempt following the Dukes' lone score of the game. Krolikowski also was credited with a blocked PAT in the Nov. 17 regular season finale against South Dakota.

    Sophomore linebacker Logan Backhaus provided a pivotal play in the Jackrabbits' Oct. 13 Hobo Day victory, blocking a Youngstown State field goal attempt in the first quarter that led directly to SDSU's first touchdown of the game.

    The Jackrabbits currently rank third in the Football Championship Subdivision with nine blocked kicks in total and are tied for second with five blocked punts. In 2017, SDSU ranked sixth with six blocked kicks.

    LIMITED RETURNS: South Dakota State has excelled in other areas of special teams so far this season, entering the week ranked in the top 10 among FCS programs in both kickoff return and punt return defense. The Jackrabbits have limited the opposition to a sixth-place average of 3.0 yards on punt returns and rank seventh in kickoff return coverage with an average of 15.92 yards.

    SDSU also ranks fifth in net punting with an average of 39.39 yards per attempt.

    CHRISTION A PAYTON FINALIST AGAIN: For the third year in a row, South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion was named a finalist for the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. In this year's balloting, he finished seventh after showings of seventh in 2016 and sixth last year.

    Throughout the 2018 season, Christion has continually added to his list of school and conference records. The senior signal-caller added two more records to his growing list of accomplishments as the Jackrabbits defeated Southern Illinois on Nov. 10.

    A Sioux Falls native, Christion enters his eighth playoff start with 11,208 career passing yards after moving past former Illinois State standout Matt Brown (10,591 passing yards from 2009-12) for the Missouri Valley Football Conference all-time lead against Southern Illinois.

    In addition, he has added to his school and league marks for career total offense by topping the 12,000-yard mark, entering Saturday's contest with 12,654 yards.

    In an Oct. 27 win at Illinois State, Christion became the SDSU career leader for completions, passing Sumner's total of 737. Christion now has 792 completions to his credit.

    Christion also holds SDSU and MVFC career marks for passing touchdowns with 101 - becoming the 18th player in FCS history to reach the 100-TD milestone with a three-touchdown performance in the Nov. 17 regular season finale versus South Dakota. In addition, Christion's average of 275.1 yards of total offense per game is well ahead of Sumner's mark of 211 yards per game. Christion also holds seven SDSU single-season records and five single-game marks.

    Christion, who has thrown 29 touchdown passes and only six interceptions this season, currently ranks fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision in passing efficiency at 163.8, while his touchdown total also ranks fifth.

    After passing for three touchdowns and running for another Nov. 17 against South Dakota, it marked the fourth time this season and 19th time in Christion's career he accounted for scores both through the air and on the ground in the same game. Last season, he passed and rushed for touchdowns in the same game seven times.

    CHRISTION HEADS TO BIG APPLE: South Dakota State University quarterback Taryn Christion was in New York City earlier this week for the presentation of the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually to college football's top scholar-athlete. Christion was named one of 13 finalists in late October.

    The award is presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame in partnership with Fidelity Investments.

    Christion is the fourth Jackrabbit to be named a Campbell Trophy finalist and recipient of an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, joining Ryan Berry (2008), Zach Zenner (2014) and Jake Wieneke (2017).

    Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the Campbell Trophy and NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a grade-point average at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

    A pool of 179 semifinalists was pared to the 13 finalists by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.

    The finalists each received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship at the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 4, where their accomplishments were highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports. At the event, one member of the class was to be declared the winner of the 29th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

    The Campbell Trophy is named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, the former chairman of Intuit, a former player and head coach at Columbia University, and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal. The award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy.

    100 FCS WINS: South Dakota State recorded its 100th win as a Football Championship Subdivision program with a 62-30 victory at Missouri State on Oct. 21, 2017. Since moving to the FCS ranks at the start of the 2004 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 115-66 overall record (.635 winning percentage).

    SDSU has turned in a winning record in 13 of 15 Division I seasons and has compiled a 61-27 mark (.693 winning percentage) in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.

    VINATIERI TIES FIELD GOAL MARK: Junior kicker Chase Vinatieri tied the South Dakota State record for longest field goal with a 57-yarder in the fourth quarter of the Jackrabbits' Oct. 20 game at Northern Iowa. He accounted for all nine Jackrabbit points in the game as he also booted field goals of 37 and 47 yards.

    The SDSU record was first set by Parker Douglass in a 2007 game against Stephen F. Austin. Vinatieri's previous career long was a 55 yards, which also came against Northern Iowa in a 2017 Football Championship Subdivision playoff game.

    Vinatieri moved into a tie for third place with Brett Gorden (36 field goals from 1995-98) on the SDSU career field goals chart with 36 after converting his lone field goal attempt Dec. 1 against Duquesne.

    ACADEMIC HONORS: Seven South Dakota State University football student-athletes were among the 36 honored Nov. 28 as members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic Team.

    Of the Jackrabbits' league-best four first-team honorees, three were repeat selections. Senior quarterback Taryn Christion received first-team recognition for the third year in a row with a 3.61 grade-point average as an economics major. A Sioux Falls native, Christion is a finalist for both the Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top scholar-athlete in all of college football, and the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award for the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

    Earlier that same week, Christion was named a first-team all-MVFC performer after passing for 2,549 yards and a league-leading 28 touchdowns through the regular season.

    Also repeating on the MVFC All-Academic First Team were senior linebacker Dalton Cox and junior offensive lineman Wes Genant, both of whom have compiled perfect 4.0 GPAs during their collegiate careers. Cox, an entrepreneurial studies and economics major from Aberdeen, ranked second on the team with 60 total tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss during the regular season.

    A biochemistry major from Parkston, Genant started eight of the Jackrabbits' 10 regular season games at center this season after previously playing at guard and
    center. He has been a key part of an SDSU offensive unit that averaged an MVFC-best 45.4 points and 511.2 yards of total offense per game through the regular season.

    Both Cox and Genant were named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America Second Team in 2017 and are again under consideration for Academic All-America honors this season.

    Completing SDSU's first-team honorees was junior offensive tackle Evan Greeneway, who has posted a 3.75 GPA as a civil engineering major. Greeneway has helped pave the way for the Jackrabbits to average 241.4 yards per game on the ground, while allowing only 10 sacks this season. The Yankton native also was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 6 squad in November.

    Three other Jackrabbits received honorable mention all-academic accolades as juniors Ryan Earith and Lance Eide, along with sophomore Preston Tetzlaff, were recognized.

    Nominees must have participated in at least 50 percent of his team's games and carry a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.20 (on a 4.0 scale). Additionally, nominees must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing, and must have completed at least one calendar year at the institution with the exception of graduate transfers.

    League sports information directors voted on the team by designating 11 players for first-team honors and 11 players for second-team honors.

    JACKRABBIT BLOODLINES: Several South Dakota State football players have strong family ties to South Dakota State Athletics.

    Quarterback Taryn Christion's mother, Heather, played volleyball at SDSU and fullback Turner Blasius' father, Justin, was an NCAA Division II national wrestling champion in 1994.

    In addition, linebacker Dalton Cox's father, Doug, wrestled for the Jackrabbits in the 1980s, while his younger brother, Colton, is a redshirt freshman on the SDSU baseball team.

    Junior kicker Chase Vinatieri is the nephew of former Jackrabbit and current Indianapolis Colts standout kicker Adam Vinatieri. Chase Vinatieri made 13-of-14 field goal attempts last season to lead the nation in field goal percentage (.929).

    Newcomer Logan Busch's father, Mike, played quarterback at SDSU from 1984-85 and ranks in the Jackrabbits' all-time top 10 for passing yards and touchdown passes. His older brother, Landon, was a pitcher on the Jackrabbit baseball team from 2015-16.

    Three sets of brothers are on the 2018 Jackrabbit roster: Jordan and Jacob Brown, Brandon and Jaden Snyder, and identical twins Jadon and Jaxon Janke.

    Brandon Snyder joined the SDSU football program at the start of fall camp as a graduate transfer from Iowa.

    JACKS IN THE PROS: With the regular season winding down, three former SDSU football standouts are currently featured on National Football League rosters, continuing the Jackrabbits' long tradition of developing players into pro prospects.

    Adam Vinatieri, who was a record-setting performer for the South Dakota State University football program in the 1990s, became the all-time leading scorer in National Football League history on Oct. 28 as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

    A Rapid City native, Vinatieri kicked two field goals and four extra points in the Colts' 42-28 win at Oakland, finishing the day with 2,550 points. He surpassed the previous career mark of 2,544 points by Morten Andersen from 1982-2007. The record-breaking kick was a 25-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half.

    Vinatieri's career totals now include 2,570 points, 576 field goals (576-of-684, 84.2 percent) and 840 extra points. He set the NFL career record for field goals earlier this season.
    Currently the oldest player in the NFL at age 45, Vinatieri also holds the league record with 20 100-point seasons. In all, he holds 14 NFL records.

    Vinatieri also holds the distinction of being the only player in NFL history to score 1,000 points for two different teams - 1,058 points from 1996-2005 for New England and 1,492 points for the Colts from 2006-present.

    During his career at SDSU from 1991-94, Vinatieri handled both the kicking and punting duties. He set numerous career records - all of which have since been broken - including 104 career extra points, 27 career field goals and 185 career kicking points. His 38 extra points in 1993 also were a then-SDSU record.

    Vinatieri posted a 41.8-yard punting average for his career, including a then-single-season mark of 43.5 as a senior. He was a three-time first-team all-North Central Conference selection as a punter and was a first-team NCAA Division II All-American (CoSIDA, Football Gazette) in 1994. Vinatieri also was a second-team all-NCC pick as a kicker as a sophomore.

    In addition, Vinatieri was a GTE-CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree.

    Just beginning his NFL career is tight end Dallas Goedert, who was a consensus All-America selection for the Jackrabbits during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. A member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Goedert has caught 21 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns thus far during his rookie year.

    Goedert became the first Jackrabbit selected in the NFL Draft in eight years as he was a second-round pick by the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Britton native caught one pass for four yards in a season-opening win over Atlanta on Sept. 6, then scored his first NFL touchdown Sept. 23 as part of a seven-catch, 73-yard performance against Indianapolis.

    Also continuing his NFL career is offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann. A member of the Jackrabbits from 2010-13, Witzmann earned a starting role with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017. However, he released by the Chiefs and is currently starting for the Chicago Bears after spending a short stint with the Minnesota Vikings. Witzmann previously spent time with Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.

    Former Jackrabbit running back Zach Zenner, who was released by Detroit a month into the season, recently re-signed with the Lions. He played in 28 games over three full seasons with the Lions prior to rejoining the squad.

    During a highly decorated career at SDSU from 2011-14, Zenner became the first player in the history of Division I football to rush for 2,000 yards in three straight years.

    Also in their first training camps this summer were 2017 All-Americans Jake Wieneke (Minnesota Vikings) and Jacob Ohnesorge (Dallas Cowboys). Neither made the final roster for their respective teams and has since signed with teams in the upstart Alliance of American Football - Wieneke with the Salt Lake Stallions and Ohnesorge with the Arizona Hotshots.

    In addition, defensive lineman Kellen Soulek, who received tryouts with the Minnesota Vikings and Indianpolis Colts last spring, has signed with the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football.

    DANA J. DYKHOUSE STADIUM: Jackrabbit football moved into a new home in September of 2016 with the completion of Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

    The stadium, which was constructed in phases on the site of SDSU's previous home field, Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, seats 19,340 spectators and cost $65 million to build. The stadium is being funded through private gifts and long-term revenue streams, including concessions and suite, loge box and ticket sales. Bonds are financing nearly two-thirds of the project's construction, with the remaining dollars coming from private support. Lead gifts totaling $12.5 million from Sioux Falls banker Dana Dykhouse and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford were announced in October 2013.

    The stadium officially opened Sept. 8, 2016, featuring a concert by country music superstars Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Lee Brice as part of the Jacks Bash opening weekend. The first football game was two days later, on Sept. 10, when the Jackrabbits defeated Drake, 56-28.

    SDSU has gone on to post a 20-2 record at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium during its first three seasons of operation, including a 4-0 mark in FCS playoff games.

    Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium was designed by Kansas City-based Crawford Architects, with the construction firm JE Dunn serving as the project manager at risk and Henry Carlson Company of Sioux Falls serving as general contractor. The stadium won the 2017 Alliant Build America Award from the Associated General Contractors of America South Dakota Building Chapter.

    STIG SHOW: The John Stiegelmeier Radio Show airs each Monday throughout the 2018 football season.

    The show is scheduled to air at 6 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, originating with flagship station WNAX 570 AM in Yankton. In addition, the weekly show also will be streamed online free of charge at GoJacks.com.

    Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show will also feature interviews with Jackrabbit student-athletes and assistant coaches. Jackrabbit fans are encouraged to attend the show in person at Cubby's Sports Bar and Grill, 307 Main Ave., in downtown Brookings.

    A LOOK AHEAD: The winner of Saturday's game between SDSU and Kennesaw State will advance to the FCS semifinals and play the winner between No. 8 Colgate and No. 1 seed North Dakota State Dec. 14 or 15 at a site to be determined.

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