MACOMB, Ill. – A close game at halftime did not go Western Illinois’ way over the final 30 minutes, losing 52-24 to 11th-ranked South Dakota State on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 28) at Hanson Field.
The 12th-ranked Leathernecks trailed by a touchdown at halftime, and took the ball to start the second half. On 1st-and-10 at the SDSU 44, Sean McGuire completed a 24-yard pass to Jaelon Acklin but a penalty wiped out the big gain. Western eventually punted, and never regained momentum.
“We are right at it in the first half and we didn’t answer the bell in the second half. We got out-coached, we got out-played, whatever ‘out’ you want to use we just didn’t do well enough in the second half,” said head coach Charlie Fisher. “South Dakota State is a really good team, very explosive offensively, and you have to credit them. They played extremely well and the bottom line is we have to bounce back.”
SDSU would eventually score 21 unanswered points in the third quarter – 28 overall dating back to the final minute of the first half.
The Jackrabbits opened the game on a 30-yard touchdown pass but Western responded with a 45-yard field goal by Nathan Erickson.
On the ensuing possession, linebacker Quentin Moon recorded his second interception in as many weeks, and returned it 22 yards to the SDSU 11. Steve McShane scored from six yards out and the Leathernecks took the lead 10-7.
After 10 straight points by the Jackrabbits, McShane found the endzone again. After what looked to be a no gain, the junior running back broke a tackle, went through the middle and scored from 39 yards. The extra point tied the game at 17-all. McShane wasn’t done yet.
Down 45-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, McGuire hit McShane down the middle on a 47-yard touchdown pass.
McShane rushed for 90 yards and matched a career-high of two touchdown runs and added another receiving TD on 66 yards (with three receptions). McGuire threw for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Tayrn Christion threw for 386 yards and five touchdowns, and rushed for another score. Jake Weineke caught eight passes for 97 yards and three TDs. Christian Rozeboom had 10 tackles, recovered a fumble and had an interception.
Despite the loss, Western stands 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. SDSU improved to 6-2 and 3-2.
“We have to bounce back, we have got to believe in our guys. We’re a good football team and we had a little bump in the road here against two very good teams (No. 2 North Dakota State, No. 11 SDSU). We have to get back on our feet and go back to work tomorrow and get ready to go to Normal to play a really good Illinois State team.”
Western travels to 16th-ranked Illinois State next Saturday (Nov. 4) with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m.
• Griffith recorded the fifth double-digit tackles game of his career, and first this season. He surpassed 200 career tackles during the second half.
• Jaelon Acklin finished with six catches for 59 yards. He now has 1,002 yards this season, the eighth 1,000-yard performance in a season in program history. Acklin is the sixth receiver to reach 1,000 yards in a season, extending the streak to four straight years with a 1,000-yard receiver (Lance Lenoir 2014-16).
• Acklin increased his career yardage total to 1,366 and jumped four spots to 14th place all-time.
• McShane now has 14 career rushing TDs (16 overall).
• Erickson is now 2-for-2 all-time in field goals, both covering at least 45 yards and both in consecutive weeks.
• Justin Fitzpatrick recorded five tackles, including a career-high 2.0 for a loss.
• Moon’s interception was the third of his career.
• Taylor increased his tackles total to 425.