Football beaten down at home

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Football beaten down at home

Seteve McShane bursting into open field on a two-touchdown day against South Dakota State University.

Seteve McShane bursting into open field on a two-touchdown day against South Dakota State University.

Angel Strack/Photo Editor

Seteve McShane bursting into open field on a two-touchdown day against South Dakota State University.

Angel Strack/Photo Editor

Angel Strack/Photo Editor

Seteve McShane bursting into open field on a two-touchdown day against South Dakota State University.

Devon Greene, Assistant Sports Editor

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After a hot start to the season, the Western Illinois Leatherneck football team dropped their second straight game after a 52-24 blowout home loss to the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.

The Leathernecks’ loss this week sprouted from the inability to get stops on defense. The Jackrabbits opened the game with a six play, 75-yard touchdown drive that left the Purple and Gold in a hole from the very beginning.

Junior quarterback Taryn Christion has been a huge problem for opposing defenses all season and he showed from the start that this game was going to be no different. Christion accounted for 60 of South Dakota  yards in the opening drive. The Jackrabbits’ first touchdown came from a 30-yard completion from Christion to sophomore wide receiver Marquise Lewis.

Western’s first drive featured junior running back Steve McShane as the offense looked to establish the run early in the game. However, a holding penalty and a sack left the Leathernecks in a tough position with a third and 16 from the South Dakota State 30-yard line. Unable to convert the third and long, Nathan Erickson’s number was called and he converted on a 45-yard field goal attempt to put Western on the board.

Momentum began to swing in the Leathernecks’ favor on their next defensive possession. A two-play drive resulted in an interception by junior linebacker Quentin Moon. This interception gave the offense spectacular field position, starting on the Jackrabbits’ 11-yard line. The Leatherneck offense only needed two plays to score off of a 6-yard touchdown run from McShane to give the Purple and Gold their first lead of the game at 10-7.

South Dakota did not stay down for long and returned with a 10 play drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Chase Vinatieri. The next three drives ended in punts from both teams as both defenses started to give the offenses big problems. Jackrabbit junior punter Brady Hale put the Leathernecks’ backs against the wall with a perfect punt that was downed at the Westerns’ own three-yard line. McShane and the offense were unable to get anything going and red-shirt freshman punter Adam Fellner was forced to punt. Fellner was unable to get a decent punt off due to the lack of space and only got the ball out to the 34 yard line.

The favorable field position from the short punt gave the Jackrabbits the opening that they were looking for and they only needed three plays to score. Christion found his senior wide receiver Jake Wieneke on two passes of 23 yards and a 13-yard touchdown. Western responded quickly with a seven play drive that ended with Steve McShane finding the end zone again with a 39 yard touchdown run.

With five minutes left in the half, the Jackrabbit offense was able to find the end zone one more time on a drive where they only left Western with 55 seconds left in the half. South Dakota found a big play on a 2nd and two from their 36 yard line on a 32-yard completion from Christion to red-shirt freshman receiver Cade Johnson. A roughing the passer penalty after a 10 yard completion put the Jackrabbits on the Western five yard line with just over a minute left in the half and Christion found another receiver in the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Wieneke to give South Dakota a 24-17 lead going into halftime.

The third quarter is where it all fell apart for the Purple and Gold. Their first drive after the intermission ended in a punt and the Jackrabbits converted on their next drive with big plays. Christion and Wieneke showed their chemistry all day and it continued on their fourth play out of halftime. Christion found Wieneke on a 17 yard reception on a big third and 15 that gave the Jackrabbits some room to operate. Christion ended the drive when he found Lewis once again streaking in the backfield for a 46-yard touchdown that widened the lead to 31-17.

Western’s misfortune continued as the next drive ended with a fumble from senior receiver Jaelon Acklin. South Dakota State capitalized on the mistake and scored once again with a two-yard run from sophomore running back Mikey Daniels. The Leatherneck offense stalled once again on the following drive with a three and out and a punt from Fellner. The final touchdown of the third quarter came on another connection from Christion to Wieneke on a six-yard touchdown pass. The Jackrabbits capped off the third quarter with a 21-0 scoring output and put them up 45-17 with only the fourth quarter remaining.

Western finally found the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter with a big 47-yard touchdown pass from McGuire to McShane. However, the comeback was short lived as the Jackrabbit offense was quick to respond with an 8 play, 82-yard touchdown drive that ended with Christion’s fifth touchdown of the day, this one coming on a one-yard touchdown run which would be the final score of the game.

Western head coach Charlie Fisher saw that his team didn’t come out of the locker room fired up enough after halftime.

“We are right at it in the first half and we didn’t answer the bell in the second half. We got out-coached, we got out-played, whatever ‘out’ you want to use we just didn’t do well enough in the second half,” Fisher said. “South Dakota State is a really good team, very explosive offensively, and you have to credit them. They played extremely well and the bottom line is we have to bounce back.”

Fisher sees the need for this team to respond to adversity and avoid the collapse that they succumbed to last season.

“We have to bounce back, we have got to believe in our guys.” Fisher said. “We’re a good football team and we had a little bump in the road here against two very good teams. We have to get back on our feet and go back to work tomorrow and get ready to go to Normal to play a really good Illinois State team.”

Leatherneck football is heading on the road next week to play Illinois State University.

Twitter: @devondeadlysins

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