Sycamores unable to keep pace with Jackrabbits in MVFC opener
Credit Source: Indiana State University Athletics
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State was unable to keep up with the Jackrabbits’ quick start on Saturday afternoon as the Sycamores fell to visiting #2/3 South Dakota State at Memorial Stadium, 44-0.
The Sycamores (2-2, 0-1 MVFC) threatened to score several times throughout the contest, but Indiana State was unable to punch it into the end zone in the Missouri Valley Football opener. South Dakota State (3-0, 1-0 MVFC) utilized a strong game from Pierre Strong, Jr. and Chris Oladokun in going up 34-0 at the halftime break in taking the conference win.
Indiana State put together a couple of late scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter as the Sycamores attempted to mount a comeback in their conference home opener. However, the Sycamores turned the ball over on downs twice in Jackrabbits territory over the final 15 minutes in the loss.
Peterson Kerlegrand had a strong offensive output for the Sycamores on Saturday afternoon as the senior running back picked up 76 yards on 21 carries. He added two catches for a team-high 50 yards on the day in the loss.
Quarterbacks Kurtis Wilderman (9-of-22, 89 yards, 1 INT) and Anthony Thompson (5-of-6, 59 yards) split time on the field throughout the game for the Sycamores. Zach Larkin was the favorite target of the QB duo with a career-high five catches for 42 yards, while Rontrez Morgan added three catches for 31 yards in the loss.
Strong, Jr. led the Jackrabbits on the day with 173 total offensive yards, including 150 yards on the ground. The senior running back added a 22-yard touchdown pass on South Dakota State’s opening drive to Oladokun to highlight the Jackrabbits attack.
Oladokun was 12-of-21 for 216 yards and three touchdowns in the win. His favorite target, Tucker Kraft, finished with five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Jaxon Janke and Jadon Janke also added receiving scores in the game.
Michael Thomas led the Sycamores defensive efforts with a team-high 10 tackles as the redshirt junior safety was all over the field in his second double-digit tackling effort of the season. Inoke Moala and Henrik Bardnt added tackles for loss in the game, while Ty Hambright forced an early fumble to cap the defense’s performance.
Adam Bock was SDSU’s tackling leader in the game with 10 tackles and added the lone turnover of the game with a 16-yard interception in the first quarter. Isaiah Stalbird and Caleb Sanders both finished the game with 1.5 tackles for loss.
How They Scored
- South Dakota State put their first points on the board at the 12:55 mark in the first quarter as Pierre Strong threw it back across the field to Chris Oladokun for a 22-yard touchdown pass to put the Jackrabbits ahead 7-0.
- The Jackrabbits added to their lead following an Indiana State interception with Oladokun finding Jadon Janke for a 33-yard touchdown pass in the right corner to put SDSU ahead 14-0 with 5:37 to play in the first quarter.
- SDSU added a Cole Frahm 45-yard field goal with 2:42 left in the first quarter to cap a 6-play, 22-yard drive as the Jackrabbits went ahead 17-0.
- Oladokun found Tucker Kraft for a 26-yard touchdown connection with 10:14 left in the second quarter to put SDSU ahead 24-0 after the 8-play, 88-yard drive.
- Oladokun and Jaxon Janke connected for a 42-yard screen pass and score to put SDSU ahead 31-0 with 8:23 left in the first half.
- The Jackrabbits added a late 32-yard Frahm field goal with 1:56 left in the first half to take the 34-0 lead into the halftime break.
- SDSU added a 27-yard Frahm field goal with 2:52 left in the third quarter to cap a 12-play, 88-yard drive as the Jackrabbits went up 37-0.
- Amar Johnson capped the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run with 6:12 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Jackrabbits ahead 44-0.
Inside the Statistics
- Indiana State finished the game with 226 yards of total offense in the game with the Sycamores picking up 3.3 yards per play.
- The Sycamores finished the contest with 78 rushing yards and 148 yards passing in the contest with the quarterbacks combining to go 14-of-29 through the air with five different receivers hauling in receptions.
- The Sycamores won the time of possession battle in the contest, 31:17-28:43, and converted 5-of-16 third downs.
- South Dakota State recorded 517 yards of total offense with 224 coming on the ground and 293 through the air.
- The Jackrabbits picked up 22 first downs compared to the Sycamores’ 16.
- Thanks to their punt coverage unit, the Sycamores’ net-punt average of 38.3 was higher than their average yards per punt (37.9) in the game as Indiana State limited SDSU to negative-3 return yards.
News & Notes
- Gavin Dineen became the first Sycamore player to block a field goal since the 2018 season when he redirected the SDSU 50-yard attempt in the first quarter. His block was the first since Rex Mosley blocked a field goal against Eastern Illinois back on Sept. 15, 2018, in the Sycamores’ 55-41 win over the Panthers.
- Peterson Kerlegrand’s 78 rushing yards marked a season-high for the running back and surpassed his mark of 73 set on opening night against Eastern Illinois.
- Inoke Moala ran his tackle-for-loss streak to five consecutive games dating back to the end of the 2019 season as the redshirt senior picked up an early TFL in the first quarter on Saturday afternoon.
- Travis Reiner added two more punts downed inside the 20 yard line on Saturday to run his season total to nine on the season.
- Justin Dinka became the 10th Sycamore to record a catch this season.
- The Sycamores were shutout for the first time since the 2019 season when Indiana State fell to South Dakota, 38-0.
- Indiana State falls to 2-9 all-time against South Dakota State with the loss and 1-5 to the Jackrabbits in Terre Haute.
Indiana State hits the road next weekend as the Sycamores travel to Vermillion, S.D. and the University of South Dakota to continue MVFC play. Kickoff between the Sycamores and the Coyotes is set for 3 p.m. ET and will be carried live on ESPN+ and 105.5 The Legend