South Dakota State beats Northern Iowa 45-24 for share of MVFC t - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

South Dakota State beats Northern Iowa 45-24 for share of MVFC title

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CEDAR FALLS (AP) -

Taryn Christion threw two touchdowns to Jake Wieneke and Wieneke threw one to Christion as South Dakota State beat Northern Iowa 45-24 on Saturday for a piece of its first Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

The Jackrabbits (8-3, 7-1) share the championship with five-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State, which SDSU beat 19-17 earlier this season. SDSU receives the conference's automatic playoff selection based on that win.

SDSU's last conference title in football came in 2007, when it won the Great West Football Conference.

"It sounds sweet," SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said.

Christion threw for 272 yards and two scores. He also ran for 25 yards and a TD.

Christion threw a 30-yard score to Wieneke on the third play of the game in just over a minute of play. Northern Iowa tied it up on its ensuing drive to make it 7-7. On the Jackrabbits' next drive, Wieneke hit Christion for a 16-yard score to put them up again, 14-7, with 7:41 left in the first quarter.

"Our guys played their tails off. They came down here and beat a good team," SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. "Good things happen when you play hard and believe in yourself."

SDSU held the Panthers to just 56 yards on the ground.

"We dominated the line of scrimmage and we're really excited about that," Stiegelmeier said.

South Dakota State needed two big defensive plays in the red zone to take a 21-17 lead into halftime. The first was a Chris Balster interception in the end zone that led to SDSU's go-ahead score. The second was a Dallas Brown interception at the goal line following a SDSU turnover at its own 31 in the closing seconds.

Eli Dunne threw for 295 yards and a score for the Panthers (5-6, 4-4) but was intercepted three times.

UNI had 209 yards at the half, to Stiegelmeier's dismay.

"We've got to stop them. We had to make two interceptions at the goal line," he said. "Third-and-long we've been horse poop."

UNI's bid for its first lead ended when Dunne's ill-advised backhand pass was intercepted in the end zone by Balster. That hurt, as it led to Wieneke's 5-yard TD catch which capped an 80-yard drive and gave the Jacks a 21-14 lead.

UNI's Sam Drysdale kicked a 20-yard field goal with 1:42 left in the second quarter.

Christion's rushing TD covered 11 yards and gave the Jacks a 28-17 lead with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

UNI closed the gap to 28-24 on J'Veyon Browning's 1-yard run with 4:22 left in the third quarter. But it turned out to be the Panthers' final score.

Late in the third quarter, Rima dropped a punt return and Makiah Slade recovered for SDSU. The Jackrabbits turned that miscue into a 3-yard Kyle Paris TD run and a 35-24 lead.

With 1:27 left in the game, Dunne was sacked by and defensive lineman Kellen Soulek caught a loose ball in the air for an interception and rambled 65 yards for a final TD.

"I'm tired," Soulek said. "The ball just popped up and into my hands. I was lucky to know which way to run."

The Jackrabbits await Sunday's FCS playoff announcement. If they get a top eight seed, they will receive a first-round bye.

"I'm just glad we're in the playoff, that's cool. We're conference champs, that's neat," Stiegelmeier said.
 

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