Fourth quarter burst gives UND win over USD In any close defensive struggle, a football team's ability to capitalize on opportunities will make the ultimate difference. That was a lesson The University of South Dakota (2-1, 0-1) Coyotes football team experienced Saturday afternoon when the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux won the North Central Conference game, 42-14. North Dakota (3-0, 1-0) scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to break open a tight game in the conference opener before 9,625 at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, ND.
With North Dakota facing a third and 33 from their own 33 and holding just a 7-point lead (21-14), a 23-yard run by junior runningback Jed Perkerwicz and a face mask penalty on the Coyotes allowed a fourth quarter drive to continue. On the next play, North Dakota quarterback Kelby Klosterman hit Dan Graf with a 39-yard touchdown pass at the 10:27 mark of the fourth quarter to move on top 28-14. Then, the Sioux added a 32-yard touchdown run by Perkerewicz, who had 103 yards rushing, with 4:48 left, and a 37-yard run by Jim Miller with 2:21 to play to put the game away.
While North Dakota was converting opportunities, the Coyotes failed to capitalize on like situations. The Coyotes had a 40-plus yard run by sophomore running back Kary Gantt negated by a holding penalty and the Coyotes dropped a potential touchdown pass, both of which most likely would have resulted in points.
In football, there are a lot of ifs and it is the do's that matter.
On this Saturday, the do's favored the Fighting Sioux (3-0, 1-0), who opened up a 14-0 lead on a Perkerewicz 13-yard touchdown run and a freak 24-yard touchdown pass reception in the first quarter. On the pass play, the Coyotes defended the intended target but the ball bounced into the waiting hands of Graf at 1:16 of the first quarter. After the first score, the Coyotes moved the ball but the holding penalty on Gantt's long run stalled the drive.
Still, the Coyotes did take advantage of some opportunities, moving within 14-7 as a result of special teams play. Freshman wide receiver Ronnie McDougle broke free and blocked a North Dakota punt and Collin Busse picked up the ball and took it to the 11-yard line. Two plays later Ryan Justice hit Charles Johnson on a nine-yard touchdown pass at the 10:18 mark of the second quarter. Neither team mounted any serious offensive threats for the remainder of the half.
On the Coyotes' first second half possession, a wide-open Steve Young dropped a long Justice pass. Shortly thereafter, Graf returned a 57-yard punt by Coyote junior punter Filip Filipovic 47 yards and a South Dakota personal foul moved the ball to the South Dakota 13 yard line. On the ensuing play Klosterman hit receiver Robbie Holmquist with a touchdown pass.
Down 21-7, the Coyotes mounted their best offensive drive of the game, moving 63 yards on seven plays to answer the North Dakota touchdown. During the drive, Gantt ran for 16 yards and Justice completed a nine-yard pass to Johnson before finding a wide-open Dustin Sagedahl for a 20-yard touchdown pass at the 9:41 mark. Neither team was able to move the ball until the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter when the Fighting Sioux broke through.
The Coyotes struggled offensively as they totaled just nine first downs and had just 38 rushing yards in 34 attempts against the nation's fifth ranked rush defense. With 86 passing yards, the Coyotes had only 124 total yards.
Filipovic, who came into the game ranked second nationally in punting, set two Coyote punting records with 15 punts for 616 yards (41.4 avg.) and had punts of 57 and 59 yards. Filipovic broke the mark of 12 punts and 558 yards set by Bill Moats in 1978 against Nevada-Reno.
Justice, who has not thrown an interception in his last 108 passes dating back to the SDSU game late last season, completed 11-30 passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Grant led the Coyotes in rushing with 29 yards. Freshman Dusty Stamer, who had four kick off returns for 81 yards, and senior Mike Weister each had 13 yards rushing. Johnson led the receivers with five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown while Sagedahl had two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Coyote senior cornerback Russell Burwell had his fourth pass interception of the season. The Coyotes were led by senior linebacker Josh Stamer who have five tackles, two tackles for losses and a quarterback sack, his third this season. Sophomore defensive lineman Bill Gassen had six and one-half tackles, including six unassisted stops.
North Dakota had 394 total yards including 181 on the ground and 213 through the air. Klosterman was 15-35 for 213 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Graf had 95 yards receiving and 104 yards on punt returns.