Jackrabbits hold off Montana State to move to 2-0

© 2018-Brookings Register

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Vinatieris are known for making big plays.

It was Chase’s turn Saturday night as the sophomore kicker showed off his athleticism with a clutch fourth-quarter touchdown run during No. 4/4 South Dakota State’s 31-27 nonconference win over Montana State at Bobcat Stadium.

Adam, Chase’s uncle and a former Jackrabbit (1991-94), is well known for his clutch kicks in the NFL as he’s won four Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

“Chase is faster, especially now,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said.

Chase Vinatieri, who played wide receiver in high school, lined up for a 48-yard field goal attempt, but instead took a pitch from holder Brady Hale and bolted right, eventually finding the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown that put SDSU ahead by 10 points – 31-21 – with 4:26 remaining in the game.

Taryn Christion went 25-of-33 for 267 yards while rushing for 57 yards and two TDs. Dallas Goedert had 11 receptions for 132 yards and Jake Wieneke added five for 65.

The Bobcats’ Chris Murray finished 23-of-42 for 311 yards with four TDs and an interception. He ran for 107 yards.

Mitch Herbert totaled nine catches for 111 yards and Jabarri Johnson contributed eight for 116 as both players found the end zone twice.

“I thought it was a battle in a very tough environment,” Stiegelmeier said. “They quarterback played very well.”

SDSU scored on each of its first three possessions to grab a 17-0 advantage.

MSU’s Luke Daly missed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide left on the game’s opening drive.

The Jackrabbits countered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive.

Christion converted a third-and-8 from the SDSU 22 with a 20-yard pass to Cade Johnson. The quarterback later capped the drive with a 6-yard TD rush with 5:46 left in the first. Vinatieri’s first of four successful PAT kicks made it 7-0.

Following a Bobcat three-and-out, Vinatieri booted a 47-yard field goal with 1:12 to go in the quarter.

The Jackrabbit defense forced another three-and-out, before the offense put together a 14-play, 80-yard drive.

Christion ran 21 yards to midfield on third-and-1, before converting a fourth-and-3 from the MSU 43 with a 10-yard pickup and a fourth-and-1 from the MSU 10 with a 1-yard rush. After connecting with Goedert for 8 yards, he plunged in from a yard out to make it 17-0 at the 6:57 mark of the second stanza.

SDSU’s Chris Balster intercepted a Murray pass in the end zone to thwart a Bobcat scoring opportunity; however, the Jackrabbits were forced to punt for the first time soon thereafter.

Murray led the Bobcats downfield, hitting Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown 14 seconds before halftime to get the home team on the board.

Brady Mengarelli capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half with a 1-yard TD rush, pushing the Jackrabbits’ lead back to 17 points – 24-17 – with 8:47 left in the third.

Momentum began to swing in Montana State’s favor after that.

Murray had a 41-yard TD toss to Johnson with 5:35 to go and, after Damien Washington recovered an Alex Wilde fumble (forced by Josh Hill) at the MSU 14-yard-line, hit Herbert for a 14-yard score to cut the deficit to 24-21 with 13 seconds to play in the third.

SDSU was again forced to punt as Montana State took over on its own 16 with 11:43 remaining in the game.

Murray hooked up with Lance McCutcheon for a 59-yard pickup on the next play from scrimmage. He then found Kevin Kassis for what appeared to be a 25-yard touchdown; however, a holding penalty negated the play.

The Bobcats eventually settled for a 45-yard field goal attempt that would’ve tied the game with 9:23 left, but Daly missed wide right.

That’s when the Jackrabbits retook control, as Vinatieri’s big TD scamper capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive and gave SDSU a double-digit lead.

Murray found Herbert for a 26-yard score with 1:59 left but Christian Rozeboom blocked Daly’s PAT kick, leaving the score at 31-27.

The Bobcats’ onside kick attempt was touched by a Bobcat player out of bounds, giving the Jackrabbits the ball near midfield.

Mengarelli fumbled on the next play, but was able to pounce on the loose ball.

SDSU eventually punted and MSU took over on its own 14-yard-line with 50 seconds to play. The Jackrabbit defense took care of the rest, as the visitors held on.

Rozeboom posted a game-high 10 tackles. Eric Kleinschmit and Logan Backhaus added seven stops apiece.

The Bobcats’ Mac Bignell had nine tackles.

South Dakota State (2-0) plays host to Drake (1-1) in the 51st annual Beef Bowl on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Montana State (0-2) is open this week before heading to Grand Forks, N.D., to face North Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 p.m.

Notes: Vinatieri, a sophomore, was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. ... SDSU is 2-0 in the Division I era for the fifth time (2005, 2009, 2013, 2015). … Wieneke moved from sixth to fifth in career receiving yards (4,332) in the FCS ranks. … Christion moved from sixth to fourth in career passing yards (5,521) at SDSU. … Goedert is now sixth in career receiving yards (2,052) and eighth in career receptions (139) on SDSU’s all-time charts. … Goedert’s 11 receptions are tied for the seventh most in a game in Jackrabbit history. … MSU leads SDSU 10-4 in the all-time series, but the Jackrabbits hold a 2-1 advantage in the Division I era.

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