USD Coyotes turn back Northern Colorado 27-6 South Dakota received another stellar performance from its defense that was complemented by a consistent offensive showing to turn back Northern Colorado 27-6 in North Central Conference football Saturday in the DakotaDome before 2,600.
In winning their fifth game in eight tries this season, the South Dakota defense turned up the heat on the visitors from Greeley, CO, when senior cornerback Kaseem Gaines scored on a 29-yard interception return at the 7:36 mark of the first quarter to give South Dakota a lead they never relinquished. It was Gaines' third career defensive score and the Coyotes' first defensive touchdown this season.
The Coyotes (5-3, 3-3) limited the Bears (3-5, 2-4) to just 13 first downs, 83 yards rushing, and 237 total yards in the victory. For the second consecutive week, the defense held their opponents without a point in the first half. Add to that, two interceptions and another outstanding defensive performance.
Entering week eight, the Coyotes were second in NCAA Division II in the turnover margin at +13 and with the turnovers are now +14 after eight games. Last year South Dakota was a -12 in the turnover margin.
The Coyotes received a strong performance from all-American candidate Josh Stamer, who had seven tackles including five unassisted stops and three tackles for losses. The three tackles for loss gives him 16 on the season.
After Gaines' big play, the Bears had an opportunity to even the score. On a heavy rush, the Bears were able to get a piece of Coyotes' punter Filip Filipovic's punt, which went out-of-bounds four yards downfield. However, the Coyote defense was up to the challenge.
After UNC quarterback Jon Boyer completed a 13-yard pass to Kevin Prosser to set up a first and goal at the Coyote four-yard line, Coyote defensive lineman Bill Gassen and Scott Larson trapped Prosser in the backfield for a two-yard loss and two incomplete passes forced a Bear field goal.
Kicker Jason Dodd missed a 23-yard field goal attempt as the Coyotes maintained their 7-0 advantage. Neither team mounted any serious offensive drives until midway through the second quarter when the Coyotes moved the ball 55 yards in nine plays and Adam Hicks' 43-yard field goal gave the Coyotes a 10-0 advantage at the 6:55 mark.
The Coyotes' offense came alive in the second half. Early in the second half, the Coyotes moved the ball 40 yards in 12 plays and had a first and goal at the Bears' one-yard line. However, the Bears mounted a goal-line stand and stopped freshman running back Dusty Stamer three times near the goal line, forcing South Dakota to settle for three points.
Hicks converted the 18-yard field goal to give South Dakota a 13-0 lead at the 4:50 mark of the third quarter. Hicks has made 13 of 18 field goal attempts this season.
After South Dakota forced a three-and-out by Northern Colorado, the Coyote offense used the momentum to move down the field and ice the game. Coyotes running back Eric Tarasewicz scored his first career touchdown to give South Dakota a 20-0 lead with 10:35 to play in the fourth quarter.
Stamer, who had 90 yards rushing, had a 16-yard run and Tarasewicz had a 12-yard gain to give South Dakota a first and goal at the eight yard line. Four consecutive runs by Tarasewicz resulted in the Coyote score.
Then after another three-and out by the Bears, the Coyotes tallied their final score on a 17-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Justice to Steve Young, a senior co-captain who scored his first touchdown this season and his fifth as a Coyote.
Down 27-0, the Bears averted a shutout and tallied their only score of the game when Boyer found a wide-open Brandon Dudley on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 4:06 to play. However, the Bears missed the extra point.
There were several noteworthy accomplishments in the game as Hicks had nine points to move into ninth place in career scoring for the Coyotes with 159 points, passing Barry Blue (154 points during 1971-72) and Jamel White (156 points in 1998-99).
Also for the Coyotes, Stamer's 90 yards rushing eclipsed the freshman rushing record of 488 held by Emmitt Huston (1978). Stamer now has 539 yards rushing this season.
Tarasewicz had 51 yards for South Dakota, who rushed for 149 yards on 45 carries. Justice completed 15-of-28 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown and one interception.
Overall, South Dakota had 294 yards in total offense. Tight end Dustin Sagedahl had six catches for 62 yards to lead the Coyote receivers.
UNC's Boyer completed just 14-of-33 passes for 134 yards with a touchdown and one interception. Wes Daniels led the Bears in rushing with 64 yards.