WIU Football Defeated by SDSU in Brookings

Zach Zannelli, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks football team lost their matchup against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits by a score of 45-10. The Jackrabbits scored early on a nine-play drive in the first quarter as quarterback Mark Gronkowski threw pass completions to Pierre Strong and Jadon Janke.Gronkowski ran for 22 yards and got the rushing touchdown. The Jackrabbits got the ball back quickly after a Western Illinois interception as Pierre Strong Jr. got the touchdown on a 1-yard run to make it 14-0 South Dakota State. On Western Illinois’ next drive, they got into field goal range on a 14-play drive as Connor Sampson threw pass completions to Tony Tate, Dallas Daniels and Denis Houston with Iosefa Pua’auli and Hunter Mason on the rushing. Kicker Mason Laramie got a 26-yard field goal to put the Leathernecks on the board, trailing 14-3. Both South Dakota State and Western Illinois had to punt on their next drives. South Dakota scored quickly on the drive after that on a two-play drive as Mark Gronkowski threw a pass complete to Jadon Drake for a 44-yard touchdown to increase the Jackrabbits lead to 21-3. South Dakota would get the ball back on two straight three and out drives by the Leathernecks as Isaiah Davis ran for 40 yards to get the rushing touchdown to make a 28-3 lead for the Jackrabbits. Western Illinois drove down the field as Sampson threw completions to Nathan Karsjens, John Brunner, Tate and Dennis Houston. The drive ended up being a turnover as Sampson threw an interception in the endzone for a touchback, giving South Dakota State the ball. The Jackrabbits scored on a two-play drive as quarterback Mark Gronkowski ran for 80-yards to get the rushing touchdown and a 35-3 lead for South Dakota State. Western Illinois would answer right away as Dallas Daniels received a pass from Sampson for three yards to get the touchdown, which shrunk the Jackrabbits lead to 35-10. South Dakota responded on their next drive and Mason Leighton received a 12-yard pass from Gronkowski which put South Dakota State up 42-10 at the half. South Dakota got the ball to start the second half as Gronkowski threw pass completions to Jaxon Janke. Isaiah Davis had some long runs which put the Jackrabbits to get the 39-yard field goal kick from Cole Frahm which put the score at 45-10. Both defenses have a great second half as 45-10 ended up being the final score.

Players of the game from Western Illinois include quarterback Sampson, who threw 29 pass completions in 48 attempts getting 278 yards and getting a touchdown pass. Rushing includes Iosefa Pua’Auli as he had 14 carries getting 44 yards. Tony Tate was the other, getting 36 yards on five carries. Receivers include Dallas Daniels, who had six receptions getting 111 yards and scoring a touchdown. Dennis Houston was another, receiving nine passes and getting 74 yards. Tate was the other, receiving seven passes and getting 54 yards. Defense included Justin Nutof, who forced a fumble and Ziare Williams, who recovered the fumble.

Players of the game from South Dakota State include Gronkowski, as he threw 13 complete passes in 20 attempts as he got 197 passing yards. Gronkowski also had four carries as he ran for 120 yards as he got four touchdowns total, two rushing and two passing. Other rushers include Davis, who had nine carries, getting 118 yards and getting a touchdown. Jefferson Lee V was the other as he got 11 carries getting 48 yards. Receivers include Janke as he got three receptions and 70 yards,  and scored a touchdown. Janke another as he got four receptions getting 68 yards. Mason Leighton was the other as he got two receptions getting 26 yards and scoring a touchdown. Defense includes Cade Terveer, Joshua Manchigiah and Dyshawn Gales, who had interceptions and Keaton Heide forcing a fumble with no recovery. 

The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks will take on the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in their next matchup at Hanson Field next Saturday at noon as South Dakota State will take on Youngstown State at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium next Saturday at 2 p.m.