Coyotes record 35-14 Dakota Day win

Coyotes record 35-14 Dakota Day win
The fifth-ranked South Dakota football team improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Central Conference with a 35-14 win over stubborn Minnesota State, Mankato (1-6, 0-3 NCC) on Dakota Day before 9,577 in attendance at the DakotaDome on Saturday, Oct. 8.

South Dakota scored 35 points or more for the seventh straight game as the Coyotes rolled up 489 yards in total offense. USD was hurt by four lost fumbles and an interception but never trailed in the game. USD led 7-0 after one quarter and 14-7 at halftime. USD scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to build the lead to 35-14.

While turnovers hurt the Coyotes on Saturday, USD controlled the game by accumulating 324 yards rushing on 43 carries and passing for 165 yards. With the win, the Coyotes became the first team since the 1902 team (9-0) to open the season with seven straight wins.

USD's Stefan Logan, a junior from Miami, FL, rushed for 155 yards to become South Dakota's all-time rushing leader. He now has 3,550 yards.

USD senior quarterback Wes Beschorner had 212 yards in total offense to set a single season mark with 2,313. Beschorner, who had 47 yards rushing and a TD, completed 12-of-18 passes for 165 yards and two TDs with an interception against MSU. Travis Mlady of Bloomfield, NE, added five rushes for 62 yards and two TDs. He now has a career-best and team-high 10 rushing TDs this season. Derek Gearman of Lennox had three receptions for 57 yards and a TD.

"We played hard against a team � Minnesota State � that was making a stand for their season. They played us very tough," said USD head coach Ed Meierkort, whose overall record is now 16-2, including 7-2 in NCC games. "Our defense bailed us our early. We had too many turnovers and it was good that our defense stepped up their play. Once we held onto the ball, it was a typical NCC game of grinding out drives. We had a solid second half on offense. Let's not forget about the special teams' play, especially the fake punt that Luke Mikkelsen executed to perfection in the second quarter and gave us a big first down at a crucial point in the game," said Meierkort.

The Coyote defense limited MSU to just 77 yards rushing on 37 attempts and kept the Maverick passing game in check (114 yards). The Coyote defense, which had a fumble recovery and an interception, was led by linebacker Ryan Hedden of Fairmont, NE, who had 13 tackles, including eight solo stops and 1.5 tackles for loss. Adam Schwaderer of Delmont had eight tackles and a quarterback sack.

Overall, USD had five quarterback sacks, including two by senior defensive end A.J. Schable of Ida Grove, IA.

South Dakota opened the scoring when senior quarterback Beschorner connected with Gearman on a 31-yard TD pass at the 3:06 mark of the first quarter. With Frank Leibfarth's kick, the Coyotes took a 7-0 lead.

MSU answered the USD score by taking advantage of a fumble by Beschorner early in the second quarter, which set up the Mavericks at USD's 20-yard line. On a third down play, MSU's Tyrell Smith caught a 23-yard TD pass from Joshua Bryant at the 11:20 mark and with Jason Tompkins' PAT, tied the game at 7-7.

With a fourth and five from its own 44-yard line, punter Luke Mikkelsen, of Gregory, executed a fake punt and ran for 10 yards and a first down. Shortly thereafter, Beschorner threw a 19-yard pass to Nick Cunningham (Albert Lea, MN) which set up USD at MSU's 14-yard line.

Three plays later, Beschorner threw a 10-yard TD pass to Desmond Allison. Tampa, FL, with 4:56 to play in the second quarter. Allison, who was interfered with on the play, made an acrobatic one-handed reception to help USD regain the lead and finish off a 12-play, 78-yard scoring drive. With Leibfarth's kick, USD took a 14-7 lead.

After that, neither team was able to put any points on the board until the fourth quarter.

For the first time this season, the Coyotes had a fourth quarter explosion, putting up three TDs and corralling its seventh win of the season.

The Coyotes built a 14-point advantage when Mlady broke several tackles and raced 44-yards for a score with 12:05 to play. With Leibfarth's kick, the Coyotes led, 21-7.

USD's defense set up another Coyote fourth-quarter score when Matt Murphy of Rapid City, recovered a fumble by MSU's D.J. Porter at the MSU's 26-yard line. Two Logan runs totaled 20 yards to move USD to the MSU six-yard line. On a second down play, Beschorner scored on a six-yard run. With Leibfarth's PAT, USD took a commanding 28-7 lead at the 11:06 mark of the fourth quarter.

MSU quickly answered when Bryant connected with Smith on a 27-yard TD pass at the 9:05 mark. With Tompkins PAT, USD's lead was trimmed to 28-14.

The Coyotes responded with a four-play, 77-yard scoring drive which was culminated by Mlady's five-yard TD run at the 7:10 mark of the fourth quarter. With Leibfarth's kick, USD led, 35-14. The USD scoring drive was keyed by a 50-yard run from Gearman, who was tripped up at MSU's five-yard line.

MSU was led offensively by Smith, who had nine receptions for 81 yards and two TDs.

Quarterback Joshua Bryant completed 15-of-26 passes for 114 yards and two TDs with one interception. Sean Treasure led MSU's running attack with 59 yards on 16 carries.

Defensively, Kevin Adams had 11 tackles for MSU, which recorded three quarterback sacks against USD.

Next for South Dakota is a road game against 18th-ranked St. Cloud State at 1 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud, MN.

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