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Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw, Georgia Attendance: 3,242
Jackrabbits survive Kennesaw State, gets NDSU rematch
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - South Dakota State, the team that might be best-equipped to challenge North Dakota State's FCS dynasty, will have its shot.
The fifth-seeded Jackrabbits got a pair of touchdowns from senior quarterback Taryn Christion to survive at fourth-seeded Kennesaw State 27-17 in the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
It set up an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference Friday night as SDSU (10-2) will visit top-seeded North Dakota State (13-0), which is seeking its second straight and a record seventh FCS title since 2011.
In that time, coach John Stiegelmeier's Jackrabbits are the only team to beat NDSU twice - in the 2016 and '17 regular seasons - and they gave the Bison their closest game this season, 21-17 at the Fargodome on Sept. 29. The Bison, though, eliminated SDSU in the playoffs in 2012, '14 and '16.
"We love the rivalry, it's unbelievable," Stiegelmeier said after his program reached the semifinals for the second straight year. "We haven't gotten them in the playoffs yet - we've been close. So we're going to work hard this week and give them the best shot. It's a great rivalry in college football and we're appreciative to have that shot."
South Dakota State advanced in its first game against a Big South opponent. In a game played in heavy rain, the Jackrabbits never trailed, but the Owls (11-2) cut a 20-3 deficit after three quarters to 20-17 when backup quarterback David Daniel had both a touchdown run and pass in the final quarter. Daniel came off the bench in the second quarter after starter Chandler Burks left with an injury.
After Kennesaw State pulled with the field goal, SDSU answered back. Christion scored on a 15-yard run up the middle with 2:22 left, effectively clinching the win at 27-17.
Christion, the MVFC's all-time leader in total offense and passing yards, also connected on his conference-record 99th career touchdown pass - a 5-yarder to Adam Anderson to give SDSU the lead for good, 10-3 in the second quarter. Christion finished with 184 yards of total offense.
Pierre Strong Jr.'s 9-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 17-3 by halftime. He finished with 18 carries for 112 yards.
Kennesaw State had its 15-game home winning streak end in a second consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals. The Owls, who run a triple-option offense, outgained SDSU 418-308, including 312 yards on the ground. David gained 159 yards of total offense.
Updated December 8, 2018