On a cold afternoon amidst the rain and snow in Brookings, South Dakota State picked up a huge win by making the big play at the right time. They beat Villanova 10-7 to move on in the FCS Playoffs.
The first half was exactly what you’d expect from a playoff football game. Both teams started with some cautious play-calling before the action really picked up. The Jackrabbits struck first when Taryn Christion hit star tight end Dallas Goedert on a 4-yard fade route to finish off a 9-play, 78-yard drive.
Andy Talley wasn’t shy with his play-calling after that, as he twice went for it on 4th down, and was denied both times.
Talley finally struck paydirt with his last gamble before the half though. With 7 seconds remaing the ‘Cats lined up for a field goal on the 6-yard line. The Jacks called timeout and Talley brought his offense back out on to the field in a surprise move.
After another Jacks timeout, Zach Bednarczyk hit Alex Padovani on a 6-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 heading into halftime.
Both defenses continued to play well to begin the second half, with field position the main concern for both teams. The Jacks had Villanova backed up into their own half on a couple of possessions, but the ‘Cats defense stood up time and time again and help flip the field for the offense.
With the defense pressuring Christion into some terrible throws, the offense continued to grind away, but fail to come up with the big game-changing play. Bednarczyk slipped on one throw when he had Padovani streaking wide-open downfield for an easy touchdown.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Jacks put together a solid drive converting four straight 3rd downs. Jafonta Johnson came up with a huge sack to end the drive and get the ‘Cats the ball back with under six minutes to play.
Villanova couldn’t do anything with the drive, but SDSU finally got the big play both teams had been seeking with a couple minutes to go. Christion rolled out under pressure and threw the ball downfield. It appeared the pass wasn’t intended for him, but Goedert came back to the ball and turned upfield for a huge game.
After the ‘Nova defense stalled the drive, Chase Vinateri doinked in a field goal off the right upright to give the Jacks a 10-7 lead with 1:21 to go.
The ‘Cats had one final drive to make something happen. Bednarczyk opened the drive by taking a sack, forcing the ‘Cats to call their final timeout with 58 seconds remaining. After a completion to Ryan Bell picked up the lost yardage, the ‘Cats couldn’t convert on two opportunites with Bednarczyk under pressure and turned the ball over on downs.
South Dakota State will move on to face North Dakota State next weekend in the quarterfinals.