SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Mark Gronowski threw a career-high four touchdown passes and South Dakota State defeated Missouri State 28-14 on Saturday in a Missouri Valley Football Conference opener matching top-five FCS teams.
Gronowski threw touchdown passes of 21 yards to Zach Heins and 40 yards to Jadon Janke to snap a fourth-quarter tie. Gronowski's first-quarter TD pass to Jadon Janke was good for a 7-0 halftime lead that he extended with a 13-yard toss to Jaxon Janke — Jadon's brother — in the third quarter. It's the sixth time the brothers have each caught TD passes in the same game.
The Bears (2-2, 1-0) rallied with Jacardia Wright's 15-yard run and Jason Shelley's 67-yard pass to Raylen Sharpe in the third quarter.
Gronowski was 22-of-29 passing with Heins finishing with 127 yards receiving and Jadon Janke 102 for the Jackrabbits (3-1, 1-0).
Shelley threw for 357 yards in a 38-27 loss to 10th-ranked Arkansas last week and went over 6,000 for his career on Saturday after a 19-of-29 passing day for 185 yards with two interceptions.
South Dakota's offense makes big plays when it needs to
The Bears trailed 14-0 at the end of the first half but rallied to tie the game in the third quarter. A South Dakota State team that has played in plenty of big games before stepped up when it needed to the most.
A disappointing first half for the Bears ended with them being outgained 251-36 but somehow only trailing just 7-0 at the break.
The Jackrabbits struck first thanks to big plays after getting pinned deep in their own territory. Starting at the SDSU 8 and after taking a false start, SDSU converted on a third-and-14 when former Joplin running back Isaiah Davis ran for 16. Passes of 21 and 24 put the Jacks deep in MSU territory before Grownoski completed a three-yard touchdown pass to Janke.
Missouri State Jason Shelley was sacked three times and was 6-of-12 for 32 yards. The Bears had four total rushing yards and three total first downs.
As the game flipped to the fourth quarter, SDSU put together two methodical drives to take the victory. Heins scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 21-yard pass down the middle to cap a 10-play, 70-yard march with 7 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Heins set career highs with seven catches and 127 yards receiving.
Following MSU's seventh punt of the contest, the Jackrabbits covered 84 yards on seven plays, with Janke scoring his second touchdown of the game from 40 yards on a catch and run along the left sideline with 2:30 remaining. Janke finished with 102 yards on a career-high eight catches, while Jaxon Janke added six receptions for 83 yards.
-- Springfield News-Leader's Wyatt Wheeler contributed to this report
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota State doubles up Missouri State in battle of top 5 teams