USD opens season with 44-21 win over Winona State For The University of South Dakota Coyotes "at home" has a double meaning, as three of their six home games in 2001 will be played away from the DakotaDome.
But, if the first home on the road outing is a precursor of things to come, the 2001 season could very well be successful for South Dakota.
The Coyotes (1-0) kicked off their home away from home tour with a 44-21 win over nationally ranked Winona State (0-1) on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Crane-Youngworth Field in Yankton. With nearly perfect weather conditions, South Dakota exhibited a balanced offense that exhibited solid running and clutch pass-making in creating a 37-9 lead as the Coyotes held off Winona State.
South Dakota jumped on Winona State early, moving the ball 68 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Senior tailback Eric Tarasewicz had four carries for 25 yards and a seven-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter.
In his first collegiate start, Tarasewicz was outstanding. In all, he rushed 38 times for 144 yards and scored four touchdowns. He exceeded his career totals in all three categories. His longest rush was 17 yards, which ironically did not come on a USD scoring drive.
Coming into the game, the Coyotes knew that Winona State had two good quarterbacks, as well as several good receivers and running backs. South Dakota found out early that the Warriors could strike fast from any place on the field.
On a first down play from their own three-yard line, quarterback Bruce Carpenter connected with Adam Lilla who raced 97 yards for a touchdown. However Winona State Steve Opgenorth's extra point was off line as the Coyotes led 7-6 in the first quarter.
South Dakota took the ensuing kickoff and drove the ball 68 yards for a touchdown as Tarasewicz scored from one yard. With Filip Filipovic's extra point, the Coyotes led 14-6.
The key play in the drive was a 40-yard pitch and catch from junior quarterback Ryan Justice to redshirt freshman Chris Mikkelsen. All night, Justice and Mikkelsen, who is also the back up quarterback, made connections through the aerial game. Mikkelson had six catches for 116 yards in his collegiate debut.
After Winona State missed a field goal in the second quarter, the Coyote offense again mounted a long-scoring drive. The Coyotes moved their advantage to 21-6 on the 14-play, 80-yard drive as Tarasewicz scored his third touchdown of the half, this time on a two-yard plunge.
The Coyotes lead ballooned to 28-6 in the opening half when Justice connected with redshirt freshman Paul Tschetter on an 11-yard touchdown pass. The score capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive. Key plays in the drive included a six-yard run by Tarasewicz on third and three from the USD 45-yard line; and a 23-yard pass play from Justice to wide receiver John Kayl on the ensuing play that gave the Coyotes a first down inside the Winona State 30-yard line.
However, Winona State moved the ball down the field quickly in the closing seconds of the opening half. The Warriors advanced the ball 46 yards in eight plays and Opgenorth's 38-yard field goal cut the South Dakota lead to 28-9 as the first half ended.
After the halftime break, South Dakota increased their lead to 34-9 on Tarasewicz's fourth touchdown of the game, a one-yard plunge with 6:32 to play in the third quarter. Justice, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns, had a couple of clutch throws in the seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive.
First, he hit Dustin Sagedahl for 18 yards on a third and 10 play from the USD 41. Then, two plays later, he connected with backup flanker Chris Meehan on a 34-yard pass play to the Winona State two-yard line.
The lead grew to 37-9 when South Dakota strong safety Scott Lilland picked off a Carpenter pass at the Winona State 22-yard line to set up a 38-yard field goal by Filipovic. The field goal was Filipovic's first as a Coyote.
In the third quarter, Winona State once again exhibited their quick strike capabilities. On a third and seven from their own 37-yard line, backup quarterback Andy Nett connected with wide receiver Chris Samp on a 63-yard touchdown pass. With the conversion, Winona State cut the lead to 37-15.
After the Coyotes went three and out, the Warriors made things interesting. On a seven-play, 54-yard touchdown drive, Winona State twice came up with big plays. First, Nett connected with Ryan Walch for 27 yards. Two plays later, running back Curtis Jepsen took a statue of liberty play 33 yards to the USD 22-yard line.
Then, Walch scored on third and goal run from the one-yard line as the Warriors drew within 37-21. South Dakota answered the score with a nine-play, 78-yard scoring driving, culminated by a 40-yard pass from Justice to Aaron Meline. After Filipovic's extra point, the Coyotes led 44-21.
During the drive, Mikkelsen had a 28-yard pass reception on a third and 11 play from the USD 32-yard line. Winona State kept coming at the Coyotes. Starting from their own 11-yard line, the Warriors moved the ball 88 yards in 11 plays. After getting a first and goal at South Dakota's five-yard line, the Warriors were rebuffed in a goal-line stand by the Coyotes.
With a first and goal at the USD five-yard line, Nett threw a pair of incomplete passes before connecting with Dobbertin on a four-yard pass to the Coyote one-yard line. However on fourth and goal, the Coyotes turned back Walch at the goal line and South Dakota took over on downs with the game in hand.
The Coyote offense shined with 24 first downs and 481 total yards. The Coyotes had 168 yards rushing on 55 rushes and 313 yards passing. Besides Tarasewicz's 144 yards rushing, Michael Williams had 22 yards rushing. Sagedahl, who was an all-NCC tight end in 2000, caught five passes for 76 yards.
On defense, the Coyotes intercepted three passes, including one each by Lilland, Marquis Lewis and Justin Martinson. Junior defensive lineman Aaron Dietrich recorded four tackles for loss (-16), a quarterback sack, eight quarterback pressures and five total tackles. South Dakota linebacker Mike Meekins also recorded a sack for South Dakota.
Winona State had 477 yards total offense, including 402 yards passing and 75 yards rushing. Carpenter completed nine of 29 passes for 208 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Nett completed 10 of 17 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Adam Lilla led Winona State in receiving with three catches for 126 yards while Samp had three catches for 97 yards and Dobbertin caught six passes for 93 yards.