BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Pierre Strong scored two touchdowns and the South Dakota State special teams blocked three kicks as the Jackrabbits beat Southern Utah 43-7 on Saturday night.
Strong had 11 carries for 85 yards and a score and added a 45-yard touchdown catch. J'Bore Gibbs completed 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for South Dakota State (2-1), which came in ranked No. 3 in the FCS Coaches poll.
After forcing the Jackrabbits to punt on the game's opening drive, Southern Utah (1-2) drove to the SDSU 36 where, on fourth-and-5, Thomas Duckett was stopped for a 4-yard loss. On the next play, Gibbs connected with Cade Johnson for a 23-yard gain and, three plays later on fourth-and-3, hit Johnson again, this time for a 30-yard touchdown.
Mikey Daniel scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter and C.J. Wilson's 8-yard TD run with three minutes left in the first half made it 21-0.
Chris Helbig scored on a 1-yard keeper to get the Thunderbirds on the board just before halftime but, on the first drive of the second half, South Dakota State's Jaxon Janke blocked a punt that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Christian Rozeboom scored on a 27-yard interception return on SUU's next drive to make it 30-7.
SDSU's Xavier Ward and Logan Backhaus each blocked a field-goal attempt in the first half and punter Ben Dinkel pinned the Thunderbirds at their own 5 twice in the first half, the first time with a 75-yard punt.