Valparaiso had its hands full and then some on Saturday evening as the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State defeated the Crusaders 69-6 before 7,634 fans at Coughlin Alumni Stadium in Brookings, S.D.
Valparaiso's defense delivered the game's first blow but it was all Jackrabbits after that. On South Dakota State's second play from scrimmage, redshirt freshman Jason Grunewald (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) forced a fumble that senior Mike Jones (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich H.S.) pounced on at the Jackrabbit 42 yard line. The Crusaders quickly capitalized with a 46-yard field goal off of the foot of Andrew McCawley (Omaha, Neb./Creighton Prep H.S.).
South Dakota State answered quickly. On the second play of the ensuing series, Josh Davis took a reverse and threw a 76-yard strike down the middle to Chris Molitor to put the hosts in front. Valpo fumbled on its next possession, and the Jackrabbits capitalized. A nine-play, 33-yard drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Cory Koenig and SDSU led 14-3 after one quarter of play.
Anthony Watson found the end zone early in the second quarter for the Jackrabbits, scampering 47 yards through the Valpo line to put the hosts up by 18. Shortly after, Andrew Hoogeveen picked off a pass and returned it 14 yards for another touchdown. At the 8:25 mark in the second, Andy Kardoes hooked up with Dan Dykhouse for 15 yards and a score to put the Jackrabbits in front 35-3.
Jones recovered his second fumble of the half at the 5:36 mark, setting the Brown and Gold up at the South Dakota State 29. After a Crusader penalty, Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) hooked up with Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) for 25 yards down the 14. Valpo had to settle for another McCawley field goal though, this one from 34 yards out, to cut the SDSU lead to 35-6.
On their next possession, South Dakota State, keyed by a 33-yard run by Watson, drove to the Valpo five before settling for a 27-yard field goal off the foot of Parker Douglass to go in front 38-6. Watson capped off the half with a 1-yard run for his second score of the half with 12.8 seconds remaining in the second to put South Dakota State up 45-6 at intermission.
South Dakota State rolled up 367 yards in total offense in the first half. Watson rushed for 114 and Kardoes threw for 118. Valpo tallied just 70 total yards. Doerffler was 13-of-16 for 74 yards for the Crusaders throwing the football.
Douglass's 45-yard field goal midway through the third quarter opened the second half scoring for the Jackrabbits. After Valpo went three and out, Paul Aanonson returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown to increase the score to 55-6.
Valpo put its first solid drive together late in the third quarter. A 12-play, 60-yard drive led to a 40-yard field goal attempt, but McCawley's kick went wide left on the first play of the fourth quarter. Ryan Berry went left and scampered in from 21 yards out for South Dakota State's eighth touchdown of the game with 11:07 left to play in the final quarter. The Jackrabbits recovered the ensuing pooch kick at the Crusader 23 yard line and proceeded to score again as Berry connected to JaRon Harris from seven yards out to close out the game.
South Dakota State (2-0) finished the game with 550 yards, 317 on the ground, while the Crusaders managed just 129 for the game and only seven on the ground.
Valparaiso will return to action next Saturday as the Crusaders host Morehead State in the Brown and Gold's home opener. Kickoff at Brown Field is slated for noon.