Coyotes drop 22-11 decision to SDSU Jackrabbits

Coyotes drop 22-11 decision to SDSU Jackrabbits University of South Dakota fans cheer for the Coyotes as they battled SDSU on the gridiron of the DakotaDome Saturday afternoon. The game may have been the last between the two teams, which have enjoyed a football rivalry more than a century old. Despite a solid defensive effort, South Dakota dropped a tough, 22-11 decision to South Dakota State on Saturday in North Central Conference action at the DakotaDome.

Before a Hall of Fame Day crowd of 8,681, the Jackrabbits scored two early touchdowns, which held up in the 105th and perhaps final meeting of the two rivals.

South Dakota (4-4, 2-3) recorded a season-high seven quarterback sacks, recorded a safety, 12 tackles for loss and limited the Jackrabbits to seven yards rushing but three turnovers proved costly as SDSU (4-4, 2-3) narrowed the overall series to 50-48-7 in favor of South Dakota.

The Jackrabbits jumped on the Coyotes with two big plays in the opening moments of the game. First, SDSU quarterback connected with tight end Brian Janecek on a 84-yard touchdown play and with Keith Witt's conversion, led 7-0, just 19 seconds into the game. Then, after South Dakota failed to move the ball, Nelson again connected deep, this time finding a wide open Josh Davis on an 81-yard scoring play at 12:56 of the first quarter. With Witt's conversion, SDSU went on top, 14-0.

Later in the first quarter, USD's defense rose to the occasion. After a punt pinned the Jackrabbits deep in their own territory, sophomore defensive lineman Andrew Schable trapped Nelson in the end zone and USD cut the lead to 14-2. On the ensuing free kick, the Coyotes moved the ball to the SDSU 32-yard line where USD kicker Cody Butler tied a career-best with a 49-yard field goal and cut the SDSU lead to 14-5.

On USD's next possession, the offense moved the ball to the SDSU 15-yard line where the drive stalled. Butler again connected on a field goal, this time from 38 yards, and USD pulled within 14-8 at the 7:48 mark.

A Coyote turnover led to the final SDSU points of the day. The Jackrabbits recovered a fumble at their own 43-yard line and took advantage of the USD mistake. The Jacks moved the ball 57 yards in six plays and went up 20-8 when Solomon Johnson caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Nelson with 31 seconds to play in the half. SDSU converted the 2-point conversion on a Nelson to Paul Keizer pass play as SDSU led at the break, 22-8.

USD scored the only points of the second half when Butler knocked home his third field goal of the day, this time from 30-yards as USD cut the lead to 22-11 at the 10:06 mark of the third quarter.

The Coyotes had a couple of opportunities to cut into the lead during the second half but fumbles ended drives. It was a frustrating day for the Coyotes, who won the time of possession battle, 35:16 to 24:44.

Overall, South Dakota had 349 yards in total offense on 70 plays, including 192 yards on the ground on 49 rushes. USD had 157 yards passing. SDSU had 353 yards in total offense, including 346 through the air.

Freshman halfback Stefan Logan led the Coyote rushing attack with 160 yards on 29 carries. USD sophomore quarterback Wesley Beschorner completed 11-of-21 passes for 157 yards. Senior wide receiver Matt Taylor caught three passes for 50 yards while Chris Mikkelsen had two receptions for 60 yards.

SDSU was led on the ground by Anthony Watson, who had 12 rushes for 28 yards. Nelson completed 17-of-24 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Also for SDSU, Davis had four receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown while Janecek had two receptions for 113 yards.

Defensively, USD was led by Garrett Hartwig, who had seven tackles and a tackle for loss. Redshirt freshman Ryan Hedden had seven tackles and a tackle for loss. Defensive end Tim Schellhammer had six stops and two quarterback sacks. In addition, Schable had five tackles, including three sacks and three tackles for loss to go with his safety.

SDSU was led by Rodney Francois and Scott Connot, who each recorded eight tackles.

Next for South Dakota is a trip to North Dakota State at the FargoDome at 1 p.m.

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