Stamer rushes for 242 yards in 41-28 win over SDSU; Coyotes’ freshman running back runs through Jack

Stamer rushes for 242 yards in 41-28 win over SDSU; Coyotes' freshman running back runs through Jackrabbit defense in NCC victory Led by an incredible 242-yard rushing effort from freshman sensation Dusty Stamer, The University of South Dakota Coyotes continued their winning ways with a 41-28 North Central Conference football victory over rival South Dakota State Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

It was the Coyotes' first win at SDSU since winning the Centennial Game in 1989, 35-13.

During a season when the defense has grabbed the majority of USD's headlines, it was the offense that turned up their play against the Jackrabbits in the 102nd meeting between the schools in a series dating back to 1889. South Dakota rolled up 477 yards of total offense, including 278 yards rushing and 199 yards passing.

The Coyotes won their fifth game in six outings and moved their record to 7-3 and 5-3 in the NCC. SDSU lost their fifth straight and fell to 5-5 and 3-5 in the NCC. The Coyotes are 50-45-7 all-time against the Jackrabbits.

Stamer, whose previous high was 139 yards against Truman State, continually broke off long gainers including a 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The freshman from Grand Island, NE, had runs of 36, 12, 11, 38, 27 and 64 yards in his best game as a Coyote. His 242 yards broke the freshman individual game record of 198 yards by Emmett Huston in 1978.

Stamer had 149 yards rushing in the first half on 16 carries and 226 yards by the end of the third quarter. His rushing total is the best for a Coyote since all-American Jamel White, now with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, rushed for a school-record 285 yards against Minnesota State, Mankato on Nov. 11, 1999. This season, Stamer has rushed for 907 yards.

While Stamer was putting a stamp on this game, it was the special teams that initially impacted this game. After Adam Hicks had converted a 25-yard field goal at 9:25 of the first quarter to cap an 11-play, 69-yard Coyote drive, SDSU broke into the scoring column courtesy of Kevin Brown and the Jacks' punt return squad.

Brown broke several tackles and returned a punt 53 yards at 2:24 of the first quarter as SDSU grabbed a 7-3 lead. It was the first and last lead held by SDSU in the game.

Reminiscent of a year ago, the Coyotes jumped back on top when Mike Weister caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Justice at 14:52 of the second quarter. Like a year ago, Weister took a short pass across the middle and galloped untouched into the end zone. With Hicks' PAT, the Coyotes went ahead 10-7. The score culminated a seven-play, 94-yard drive by the Coyotes.

Seven minutes later, it was the Coyotes' special teams that shined when junior safety Mark Blackburn blocked a punt in the end zone which was recovered by the opportunistic Kaseem Gaines, who for the second time in three weeks scored a touchdown. Gaines, a senior cornerback, scored his fourth defensive touchdown as a Coyote.

Shortly thereafter, the Coyotes took off on an eight-play 61-yard drive that ended in a one-yard run by Collin Busse at 3:12 of the second quarter. Hicks' extra point gave USD a commanding 24-7 lead.

But over time one learns in a rivalry matchup like this, things are never as they seem. Leads can quickly evaporate and the Jacks were determined to make that the case in this game. With 53 seconds left to play in the first half, Scott Nedved scored on a nine-yard run to pull the Jacks within 24-14. It was the first offensive touchdown allowed by the Coyotes in the first half in four games.

The Coyotes reacted quickly, moving the ball deep into SDSU territory before a turnover very nearly made this game much closer. After 27- and six-yard runs by Stamer and a pass to tight end Dustin Sagedahl at the SDSU 23-yard line, Justice was hit and lost the ball.

SDSU's Travis Lindekugel picked up the fumble but was tripped up after rumbling nine yards. After a completed pass to the Coyotes' 38-yard line, SDSU quarterback Andy Rennerfeldt's last-second throw and the Jacks' threat was broken up near the end zone.

The Coyotes regained control in the second half, jumping to a 34-14 lead. First, Hicks converted a career-long 52-yard field goal at 10:09 of the third quarter to give USD a 27-14 lead. Then after a three-and-out by the Jacks, Stamer stepped up big time. On a second and 10 from the USD 36-yard line, Stamer broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run, giving USD a seemingly safe 34-14 lead at 6:55 of the third quarter.

Once again, it was not wise for the Coyotes to feel too comfortable. SDSU's Chris Reiner picked off a Justice pass and returned it to the USD 43-yard line. Then a pass interference call against the Coyotes on a fourth-and-21 play from the USD 28 set up the Jackrabbits' score. Brown ran for 12 yards to the Coyotes' one-yard line and the next play scored with 13:18 to play in the game.

But on this day, the Coyote team would not be denied. USD immediately answered when they took the ensuing drive 72 yards on 11 plays to increase their lead to 41-21. The big play in the drive was a 26-yard pass from Justice to Brookings native Jeremiah Charlson, which gave the Coyotes a first-and-10 at the Jackrabbits' 18-yard line. A nine-yard run by Justice was followed by a two-yard run by Weister and a six-yard run by Stamer to the SDSU one-yard line.

Then sophomore defensive tackle Bill Gassen, reminiscent of former Chicago Bears defensive tackle William "The Fridge" Perry, entered the Coyotes' offensive lineup and took a Justice handoff to score from a yard out at 8:09 of the fourth quarter.

SDSU's Joe Ford took the Hicks' kickoff back 40 yards to give the Jacks great field position at the USD 46. Seven plays later Rennerfeldt completed a touchdown pass to Adolph Shepardson from 15 yards out to pull SDSU within 41-28. For the second time in the game, SDSU converted a fourth down play, and this time the Jacks made the Coyote faithful a bit nervous.

Things became even more antsy for the Coyotes when SDSU kicker Andy Nelson uncorked a perfect on-side kick which was recovered by the Jackrabbits at the USD 48-yard line. SDSU moved the ball to the Coyote 13-yard line before the Coyote defense, aided by a motion penalty, kept the Jacks out of the end zone.

Rennerfeldt, who completed 10 of 28 passes for 132 yards, threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Josh Buchholtz that was canceled due to the motion penalty. On fourth-and-17, Rennerfeldt's pass for Kris Garry was broken up by Greg Schmidt and the Coyotes regained possession with 3:59 to play.

After three USD runs failed to gain a first down, Filip Filipovic's 33-yard punt was fumbled by Brown and recovered by the Coyotes' Andre Horn at the SDSU 46-yard line which ended the hopes for the home team. The Coyotes closed out the win when Justice, who rushed for 25 yards, scrambled 11 yards to the SDSU 34-yard line to give USD a first down and the victory.

In one of his best games of the season, Justice completed 13 of 22 passes for 199 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Charles Johnson caught three passes for 46 yards and Sagedahl had three catches for 41 yards.

Nedved led SDSU rushers with 58 yards and Brown had 37 as the Coyotes limited SDSU to 84 yards on 33 rushes. Overall SDSU had 216 total yards.

USD's defense recorded 12 tackles for a loss and five sacks. In the past two weeks those totals combine for 28 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks. Rory Triplett had his fifth interception for the Coyotes, who received four pass breakups by league leader Russel Burwell.

Blackburn had a solid game from his safety position, garnering six tackles including four tackles for a loss for 24 yards and three sacks. Lee Bunge had two tackles for a loss and a pair of sacks while Scott Larson had three tackles for a loss.

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