Lujan back under center for SDSU, back to winning ways

October 31, 2015

Zach Lujan FootballZach Lujan of Anchorage returned to the field for the South Dakota State University football team and played a lot like the quarterback he was before he got hurt.

The junior competed 15-of-19 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns in three quarters as the Jackrabbits beat Missouri State 39-0 on the road.

Lujan, of South High fame, had missed the better part of three games with an injured ankle. He might have returned prematurely last week and didn’t play his best.

This week, though, he looked more like himself.

“No better feeling being back in the huddle with my teammates. I tried to come back last week but without really practicing and not being fully healthy, I wasn’t as effective as I was this week,” he told me.

Lujan improved to 9-4 in his career as a starting quarterback.

He has thrown for 1,459 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two picks in six games this year.

Lujan has been the team’s No. 1 quarterback all season, a spot he earned after filling in admirably last year as a substitute starter.

He had South Dakota State offense rolling at 3-0 – including a 41-38 win over Kansas, the school’s first victory over an FBS opponent – before a 28-7 loss against North Dakota State.

That was the game he injured his ankle, forcing him to miss the next two games. Taryn Christion filled in at quarterback and led the team to back-to-back wins.

Lujan started last week’s 10-7 loss to Northern Iowa but was pulled in the second half in favor of Christion, who threw for the lone touchdown.

You might assume there is a quarterback controversy, but Lujan defuses any potential drama by being a team-first player. He has been on both sides of the coin and understands the next-man-up mentality.

“As far as sharing reps, I just have to be ready when my number is called and perform to the best of my abilities and be as sharp as possible,” he said.

His proven record as a winner should keep him under center.

“I think having a year in the system under my best has helped me more than anything,” he said, “and being voted as team captain has both built my confidence and enabled me to hold myself to a higher standard.”

In 15 career games, Lujan has passed for 3,402 yards and 24 touchdowns.