3 things we learned: Western gets rundown feeling in loss to No. 8 South Dakota State

Western Illinois allowed 42 first-half points Saturday in a Missouri Valley Football Conference loss to South Dakota State in Brookings, S.D. (Photo by SDSU Athletics)

The Western Illinois football team surrendered a lead in the fourth quarter in its season-opening loss last week.

In just over 8 minutes Saturday in Brookings, S.D., the Leathernecks got behind by two scores in what proved to be an insurmountable lead in a 45-10 loss to South Dakota State.

The No. 8 Jackrabbits used a powerful rushing attack to produce 42 first-half points and pile up 328 yards. For the game, SDSU managed 531 yards of offense.

Three turnovers by WIU (0-2) turned into 14 first-half points for the Jackrabbits.

Here are three things Prairie State Pigskin learned from Saturday’s game:

  1. Western feeling rundown

In two games this season, the Leathernecks have allowed 483 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Opponents are gaining 5.5 yards per carry. On Saturday, Western allowed two 100-yard rushers, including SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski, who led all rushers with 120 yards. His biggest play was an 80-yard, second-quarter touchdown run.

2. Sampson keeps slinging

WIU quarterback Connor Sampson threw for a game-high 278 yards against the Jackrabbits, completing 29 of 48 passes. Sampson threw a second-quarter TD pass to Dallas Daniels but also threw three interceptions. For the season, Sampson has thrown for 559 yards and is completing 67% of his passes.

3. Finding favorite targets

Daniels, a junior wide receiver, caught six passes for 111 yards against Jackrabbits, including a 62-yard play that set up Western’s only touchdown. The WIU receiving corps was a bright spot Saturday as senior Dennis Houston caught nine passes for 74 yards and fellow senior Tony Tate hauled in seven catches for 54 yards.

What’s up next?

The Leathernecks host undefeated North Dakota at noon on Saturday, March 13 in Macomb.

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