Wednesday, September 24, 2003
MONMOUTH -- In a game that turned on big plays, South Dakota State made the most important ones, pulling away from Western Oregon for a 37-10 win on Sept. 20 at McArthur Field.
South Dakota State (2-1 overall) scored the last 23 points of the game. The Jackrabbits scored on three long touchdown plays in the first half, but it was the third that was a turning point in the outcome.
With six seconds left in the half and South Dakota State holding a precarious 14-10 lead, the Jackrabbits' John Perry intercepted a fourth-down pass in the flat and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown as time expired.
"That play certainly changed the game," said Western head coach Duke Iverson. "One play doesn't determine the game, but you could say that was an emotional turning point."
After the interception, Western Oregon (2-1) did not advance past the SDSU 41-yard line, totaling only 67 yards on offense while South Dakota State put together three scoring drives and 223 yards of offense.
Western took a brief 3-0 lead on an Andrew Keippela field goal early in the second quarter, but the Jackrabbits answered one play later with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Brad Nelson to Soloman Johnson.
The visitors added a 59-yard Anthony Watson run for a 14-3 lead, but WOU redshirt freshman Ryan Thorson connected with Brad Satran for a 73-yard TD less than four minutes later. Then Thorson, who stepped into the starting job in the second quarter of last week's game after starter Denny Bies broke a bone in his leg, threw the key interception.
"It was a tough day for our new quarterback," said Iverson afterward. "He's good, and he has a great future here, but we had trouble playing catch out there today." Thorson finished 19 of 39 for 236 yards and two interceptions, settling down somewhat after a spate of overthrows early in the game.
"There was no doubt who won that game," said Iverson. "We had to be a very good football team today to beat that squad. They played solid football and kept making the big plays. They sort of wore us down. We just couldn't compete in the second half."
South Dakota State finished with 532 yards of total offense, and the Jackrabbits had nine receivers catch passes on the way to 363 yards and three touchdowns in the air. Nelson finished 17 of 37 for 304 yards. Soloman gathering four grabs for 144 yards. Watson rambled for 138 yards on the ground, his third consecutive game over 100 yards.
For Western Oregon, Satran finished with seven catches for 119 yards, his third consecutive game over the century mark. The Wolves' Lucas Taroli averaged 44.9 yards on 11 punts, including a career-best 68-yarder.
The Wolves play at home for the third straight Saturday this week, hosting Mesa State at 2 p.m.