Eastern Illinois finished the season 7-5 after a first-round exit in the FCS playoffs.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits (9-3) beat the Eastern Illinois Panthers (7-5) in convincing fashion, 58-10, in the first round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday evening.
Eastern Illinois found its season in jeopardy early on the road in Brookings, S.D. as the Jackrabbits jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner opened the scoring with a 68-yard touchdown run but he was just getting started.
After Panthers kicker Cameron Berra made a field goal to cut the lead to 10-3 early in the second quarter, Zenner ran for two more touchdowns to break the game open before the half. The Jackrabbits leaned on Zenner all day and he delivered with 295 yards rushing on 33 carries to lead South Dakota State to the next round of the playoffs.
Eastern Illinois scored its only touchdown in the third quarter on a four-yard run by Jake Walker. The Panthers' running back finished the game with 125 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 221 yards with one interception, connecting with receiver Erik Lora 12 times for 133 yards.
South Dakota State advances to play top-ranked North Dakota State next Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs.