A win for the recordbooks

Jacks’ 1985 Hobo Day win vs. Coyotes remains memorable game

Part of the record crowd of 16,193 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium when SDSU upset then No. 1 University of South Dakota on Oct. 19, 1985.

The South Dakota football team arrived in Brookings the seventh week of the 1985 season full of confidence. And why wouldn’t the Coyotes be feeling that way?

USD was ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II with a 6-0 record and it easily handled SDSU, 33-18, earlier in the season in Vermillion. In fact, the Coyotes hadn’t lost since the sixth game of the 1984 season — a streak of 11 straight wins.

However, whenever these two teams meet, records don’t mean a lot, especially when it comes to the emotions surrounding Hobo Day.

“They ran into a perfect storm,” recalls Bruce Klostermann, who played outside linebacker. “They could not match our intensity.”

It was an absolutely perfect day to watch football. With the temperature in the mid-60s and hardly a breeze Oct. 19, SDSU dealt USD a stinging 24-12 setback before a then-Coughlin-Alumni Stadium record crowd of 16,193.

The Jackrabbits scored the first 22 points. K.C. Johnson kicked three field goals and quarterback Mike Busch threw for a touchdown and ran for another to put SDSU ahead to stay.

“When you have your biggest rival coming to town, it’s Hobo Day and they are the No. 1 ranked team in the country, I couldn’t wait to play the game,” says Busch, now the athletic director and head football coach at Beresford High School.

“As a team, we prepared and practiced as we normally did throughout the week. I really think, though, there was a different level of focus, preparation, excitement and anticipation for this matchup.”

Defense makes statement

The Jacks set the tone early, pinning the Coyotes deep in their own territory following a big hit by SDSU’s kickoff coverage team.

On the game’s opening offensive set, the Jacks smothered USD quarterback Scott Jones, who fumbled on an option play. The football was recovered by Klostermann, setting up Johnson’s first field goal.

The Coyote offense was averaging 426 yards per game, including a whopping 339 on the ground. SDSU put a halt to those figures, limiting USD to 260 total yards, including only 138 rushing. The Coyotes managed to convert only three of 15 third-down attempts.

Meanwhile, SDSU used a balanced attack with 205 yards rushing and 228 yards passing. The Jacks were effective in controlling the clock, making nine of 16 third-down tries.

The Jackrabbit defense, which forced USD to punt on five of its eight first-half possessions, allowed two touchdowns late in the fourth-quarter well after the issue was decided. SDSU put on the final touches with a safety in the closing seconds.

“The rivalry was huge between us and the place was rocking,” says Klostermann, who went on to play for the Denver Broncos and currently owns a feed, grain and livestock company in Dyersville, Iowa.

“Even though I was from out of state, it didn’t take long to figure out the passion and intensity of this game. I remember you could sense that our coaches really wanted this one bad.”

Klostermann would finish with six tackles, three pass breakups and one quarterback sack. Inside linebackers Darrin Thurson and Jim Kaufman led with 13 tackles apiece, followed by nose guard Brian Sisley with 12 and inside linebacker Ken Kraft with 10.

Busch, who completed 14 of 26 passes, found Jeff Tiefenthaler four times for 98 yards. Dennis Thomas also had four receptions for 31 yards, while Scott Schaefer hauled in three catches for 53 yards. Dan Sonnek was the workhorse for the Jacks in the backfield, carrying 39 times for 165 yards.

Memories still strong

The win fueled the Jacks the rest of the campaign, winning three of their final four to finish 7-4 overall, including a 7-2 second-place mark in the North Central Conference.

“From a team standpoint, we outplayed the Coyotes that day and had proven to ourselves that we could be a title contending team and a playoff contender,” says Busch.

“Our defense was great, the play of our special teams was really good and offensively we took care of the ball. The victory motivated me and the team throughout the rest of the season.”

Busch, named the conference most valuable player that year, hasn’t forgotten the atmosphere surrounding the game on that particular sunshine day in October nearly 30 years ago.

“When the stadium is packed, and the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band is leading the team on to the field, it’s a pretty cool feeling as a Jackrabbit player.

“With 16,000 fans, Hobo Day against your undefeated archrival, perfect weather and a sea of Blue and Yellow/Red and White spread everywhere — you can’t get any better than that.”

The ’85 game still gets talked about because, “It contains everything that goes with the rivalry: tradition, pride and competition between the two biggest universities our state has to offer,” says Busch.

 Kyle Johnson

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