With a trip to the NCAA Division I Football Championship semifinal on the line, Villanova was shut down in the second half.
The Wildcats went into halftime leading by seven after a late touchdown, but couldn’t post points after that.
South Dakota State scored three times in the second half to secure a 35-21 win on Saturday at Villanova Stadium.
“They got it done in the second half,” Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante said. “We gave them a run, [but] we just didn’t make the plays to get off the field when we needed to [and] we didn’t get the ball in the end zone in the second half.”
Senior quarterback Daniel Smith shined in the first half with three total touchdowns, but couldn’t continue scoring. Smith completed 17 of 26 passes for 271 yards and became the No. 5 passer in program history with 6,529 career yards.
Pringle pops with big plays
Once Smith found wide receiver Rayjoun Pringle he just couldn’t stop.
On the Wildcats’ second drive, Pringle powered his team to its first points and sparked the offense.
Pringle caught three passes and carried the ball once for 78 all-purpose yards and ended the series with a 36-yard touchdown on a toss from Smith.
After his touchdown catch, Pringle added another special catch on the next series.
He pulled in a diving 37-yard reception that set up a Wildcats score by Smith three plays later.
While Pringle was pivotal in scoring points himself, his presence also created chances for teammates. After his strong start to the game, the Jackrabbits’ safeties set their sights on Pringle, which allowed Smith to hit wide receiver Jaaron Hayek with a 55-yard strike for a score.
Rhyne continues to be a force
Villanova linebacker Forrest Rhyne had himself another special Saturday. Rhyne racked up 21 tackles and became the top tackler in NCAA D-I FCS this season with 154 on the season.
Rhyne ripped through Jackrabbits blockers and blew up ball carriers to make several big plays.
With 12 first-half tackles, Rhyne had double-digit tackles in three straight halves. He had 10 and 11 in the first and second half, respectively, against Holy Cross last week.
While he had no time for praise surrounding his personal accomplishment, Rhyne said he would eventually allow himself to reflect on a strong season.
“I will definitely be proud of this season,” Rhyne said. “Now that the season is over, I will allow myself to be proud of this season.”
Rhyne was one of the only Wildcats able to stop a South Dakota State as the Wildcats were only able to record a single tackle for loss in the contest.
Villanova allowed 5.9 yards per carry, 266 rushing yards, and three rushing touchdowns. Throughout the game, the Jackrabbits were able to convert on third and fourth down by running the ball.