VERMILLION, S.D. | Who could have known that when Shamar Jackson caught a short 4-yard flip from Chris Streveler on the University of South Dakota’s first possession here Saturday, it was the start of a record-setting day for the junior wide receiver?
Jackson, a 160-pound speedster from Pahokee, Florida, went on to haul in 11 receptions for 229 yards as the sixth-ranked Coyotes beat No. 3 Youngstown State 31-28 on a field goal in the closing seconds.
South Dakota, which should move up even more in the FCS ratings this week, moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2005 and is 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The 11 catches tied a single-game program record while the 229 yards eclipsed a long-standing mark of 205 yards by Dwight Duncombe in 1972.
Jackson was the main target all afternoon for Streveler, who completed 21 of 35 for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
“They play kind of a unique defense and we knew we were going to have some opportunities to get some guys open and we were obviously hitting him,” Streveler said. “He did a great job, I have to give him a ton of credit. They play a ton of man-to-man and that puts a lot of stress on the receivers to get open. Shamar was doing the hard part and I just threw him the ball. He did a great job of getting open and there were some other guys who made some big plays as well.”
Part of a deep receiving corps, Jackson came into the game with 11 catches in four games, so he equaled his season production in one outing.
“During the week we knew what kind of defense they would run, a physical solid defense, and it just came down to winning one-on-one matchups,” Jackson said. “As a receiving corps we did pretty well.”
Jackson’s most critical catch came on the Coyotes’ first play of the second half when he caught a quick slant and turned it into a 71-yard touchdown, giving his team a 28-14 lead.
Youngstown State would rally to tie the game, but the defense came up with a critical stop deep in Penguin territory and Streveler moved his team into field goal range. Ryan Weese wound up winning it on a 29-yarder with seven seconds remaining.
Jackson also had a key 53-yard catch on 3rd and 12 from the USD 10 late in the first quarter that helped keep an 88-yard drive alive, one that eventually ended with a game-tying 15-yard touchdown pass from Streveler to Randy Baker.
Always known as a gifted receiver, Jackson had yet to break through with a dominant performance, but that all changed in front of over 10,000 fans on Dakota Days. He ran his season totals to 22 receptions for 453 yards and three touchdowns and had his biggest game against the best defensive team the Coyotes have faced.
“It felt amazing to come out here to win in front of our home crowd and go from 4-0 to 5-0 on D-Days,” Jackson said. “It was pretty amazing.”
South Dakota Coach Bob Nielson said what Youngstown State did on coverage had a lot to do with Jackson’s huge performance.
“They bracket a lot of receivers and then sometimes you’ll get man-to-man so your inside receivers have got to be guys that can get open and create some space based on what they do coverage-wise,” Nielson said. “We actually caught them on a blitz on the long touchdown pass where he (Jackson) was supposed to run a different route and just sight adjusted the route when the pressure came and Chris made the same read and turned that into a 70-yard touchdown play
“He’s a great young man, I really like him. He’s one of those guys that never says anything, just practices really hard and does everything the right way. Shamar has become, in his own way, a leader on our football team.”