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Jaeschke comes up big

—Photo by Sean Arbaut Southeast Valley graduate Dakota Jaeschke catches a touchdown for Southwest Minnesota State last weekend.

MARSHALL, Minn. — Last weekend, Southwest Minnesota State scored a thrilling victory in the final minute over Minot State.

But had it not been for the first half heroics of Dakota Jaeschke, the Mustangs might not have been in position to do that.

Jaeschke, a 2017 graduate of Southeast Valley, hauled in a 49-yard hail mary from Paul Herrera to give SMSU a 14-7 halftime lead as time expired. He finished the game with a career-high four catches for 67 yards as the Mustangs won, 21-17.

“It was a great feeling to know that all the hard work I have been putting in contributed to the win,” Jaeschke said. “We have continued to improve throughout the season even though our team has faced several injuries. Those injuries have allowed some other players to get into the game and show that they have to offer.”

A redshirt sophomore, Jaeschke is a member of both the Mustang offense at wide receiver and on special teams. Last year, he saw action in eight games on special teams, making seven tackles and recovering a fumble.

“I feel more comfortable with the offense,” he said. “It has also given me the chance to know what the coaches expect out of me and develop chemistry with my teammates.”

His first season with Southwest Minnesota State was spent as a redshirt. Jaeschke earned scout team special teams player of the week and scout team offensive player of the week honors, time that “helped me learn the culture of the team and the offense,” he said.

A four-year letterwinner for Southeast Valley and head coach Mike Swieter, Jaeschke earned first team all-district and first team all-state honors after catching 43 passes for 1,049 yards and 16 touchdowns.

He finished his Jaguar career with 100 receptions for 1,829 yards and scored 26 receiving touchdowns. Jaeschke accounted for 114 points as a senior and also played basketball and baseball.

“(College football) is much faster,” Jaeschke said of his transition. “And there is an increase in the level of competition of players both from teammates and opposing teams.”

Earlier this year, Jaeschke caught three passes for 22 yards vs. Sioux Falls.

Southwest Minnesota State hosts Bemidji State for Homecoming Saturday at Schwan Region Event Center. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.