Coyotes drop season-opener 10-3

Coyotes drop season-opener 10-3 In a tight defensive struggle, one breakdown on special teams can prove the difference as was the case in Missouri Western's 10-3 decision over South Dakota on Saturday night at the Hall of Fame Game in the DakotaDome. In a tight defensive struggle, one breakdown on special teams can prove the difference as was the case in Missouri Western's 10-3 decision over South Dakota on Saturday night at the Hall of Fame Game in the DakotaDome.

The Griffons (2-0) used an 81-yard kickoff return by Darwin Pitts to set up the onlytouchdown of the game in their win. Just prior to that return, the Coyotes had grabbed a 3-0 when Cody Butler converted a 40-yard field goal to cap off an eight-play 23-yard scoring drive at the 11:39 mark of the second quarter. The score was set up when junior linebacker Josh Gassen, Rapid City, recovered a fumble by Griffons' quarterback Michael Cooper at the Missouri Western 49-yard line.

Pitts' return moved the ball to the Coyotes' 14-yard line. Three plays later, Cooper connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jon Schoonover with 9:45 to play in the second quarter. That was all the scoring for night until the Griffons tacked on a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Dane Broadie converted a 36-yard field goal with 7:36 to play in the game to give the Griffons a 10-3 lead. The score capped on a 13-play, 37-yard scoring drive.

In the opening half, the Coyotes defense had a superb effort, limiting the visitors to five rushing yards and just 58 yards through the air for 63 total yards on 27 plays. However the Coyotes could not fare much better in the opening half. USD had 42 rushing yards on 15 carries and 79 yards passing with three costly interceptions.

On the night, South Dakota outgained Missouri Western 263-204 in total offense. USD, who held a 30:58 to 29:02 advantage in time of possession, also held the upper had in first downs, 13-9. The Coyotes also held advantages in rushing, 98-80, and passing, 165-124.

Individually, the Coyotes were led by junior running back Jason Anderson, Palmdale, CA, who gained 64 yards on 16 carries. Junior running Davon Hudspeth, Rancho Cucumonga, CA, had 34 yards on eight carries as the Coyotes totaled 98 rushing yards on 32 carries.

Senior quarterback Ryan Justice, Ankeny, IA, set an all-time passing record for South Dakota with 116 yards passing. He completed 11 of 24 passes but had three interceptions, all in the first half. He now has 4,806 yards in his career, moving him past former Coyote Jason Seurer, who had 4,759 yards from 1989-92.

Freshman quarterback Sean McLaughlin, Omaha, NE, completed seven of 13 passes for 49 yards in his debut as a Coyote.

Aaron Meline, Urbandale, IA, led the Coyote receivers with five receptions for 33 yards while Foster Brodus, Newport News, VA, caught three passes for 27 yards.

For Missouri Western, Cooper completed 11 of 26 passes for 124 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. Derrick Pitts led the Griffons with 84 yards rushing on 19 carries. Schoonover had three receptions for 48 yards.

Defensively, the Coyotes were led by Josh Gassen, who had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Aaron Dietrich, Emmetsburg, IA, who had 21 tackles for loss a year ago, had three TFLs (-12) to go with seven tackles.

Senior linebacker Drew Barns, Rapid City, had seven tackles and three TFLs while senior nose guard Bill Gassen, Rapid City, had five tackles and three tackles for loss as the Coyotes had 11 tackles for loss as a team.

Dietrich, Barns and Korey Ebel, Hartley, IA, all recorded quarterback sacks.

Missouri Western was led by Jason Chancellor who had seven tackles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. Curtis Wilson had seven tackles and an interception. Eric Walker and Chris Eads also recorded interceptions for the Griffons.

The Coyotes will attempt to rebound from this loss when they host Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night, Sept. 14.

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