Coyotes OK in OT

Coyotes OK in OT
A 40-yard field goal by junior placekicker Frank Leibfarth (Yankton) lifted 16th-ranked South Dakota (9-3) to a come-from-behind 31-28 overtime win over 17th-ranked Northwood (8-3) in a NCAA Division II national playoff first round contest on Saturday afternoon at Hantz Stadium in Midland, MI.

South Dakota rallied from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to grab a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter before Leibfarth had his overtime heroics. The Coyotes registered its first playoff win since the 1986 season. USD will now travel to face Grand Valley State in Allendale, MI, on Saturday, Nov. 25.

"We came out a little slow," said USD head coach Ed Meierkort, who won his first-ever playoff game at South Dakota, improving his career-mark with the Coyotes to 27-7 with the victory. "This is perhaps the most physical game we have played in all season. Northwood is a tough physical team that is well-coached and classy.

"It is an honor to be able to play in this game. We look forward to continuing play in the playoffs."

South Dakota was led by senior running back Stefan Logan (Miami, FL), who had 160 yards rushing and 250 all-purpose yards. With his rushing total, Logan moved into 12th place on the career rushing chart in NCAA Division II with 5,863 yards. He had his 34th 100-yard rushing game, which tied Damien Beane of Shepherd (1996-99) for an NCAA record.

"Northwood was physical, and we fortunately came up with our biggest win in 20 years," said Logan. "It was a huge challenge, but we came through it and now we are moving on."

The Coyotes totaled 374 yards in total offense on 76 plays. USD had 199 yards passing and 175 yards rushing. Meanwhile, Northwood totaled 146 yards on the ground and had a surprising 171 yards passing. USD redshirt freshman quarterback Noah Shepard (Thornton, CO) completed 16-of-32 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns. Three of his scores went to senior wide receiver Desmond Allison (Tampa, FL), who finished with five catches for 78 yards. Junior wideout Brooks Little (Castlewood) had six catches for 78 yards.

Defensively, senior cornerback Jordan Davis (San Antonio, TX) led the Coyotes with 11 tackles on the game, nine of which were solo stops. Junior linebacker Justiss Scales (Columbus, OH) added five tackles along with snaring an interception, recovering a fumble and being credited with one pass deflection.

Northwood was led by Torris Childs, who had 65 yards rushing. Kyle Kolbe completed 9-of-16 passes for 182 yards with one TD and an interception.

Northwood jumped on South Dakota early in the first quarter by utilizing its pass game, which the Timberwolves have rarely implemented during the 2006 season. After gaining good field position at its own 47-yard line, Northwood scored on a 53-yard TD pass from Kyle Kolbe to Philip Davis at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

Northwood had 106 yards passing in the first quarter after averaging just 37 yards a game all season. Later, another Coyote miscue led to a Northwood score. After a Coyote punt, USD was penalized for a personal foul which set up Northwood at the South Dakota 47-yard line. From there, Northwood had a 47-yard, seven-play drive which was capped by a two-yard run by Torris Childs that gave the Timberwolves a 14-0 lead at the 14:55 mark of the second quarter.

The key play in the drive was a 23-yard pass play from Kolbe to Josh Rauser to the USD two yard line. One play later, Childs rumbled into the end zone.

Northwood had an opportunity to build on its lead but lost a fumble at the Coyote 22-yard line. Then USD used a methodical 78-yard, 14 play drive that drew the Coyotes within 14-7. With just three seconds left on the clock before the half, Shepard completed a 17-yard scoring pass to Desmond Allison. The longest play in the drive was the TD pass to Allison.

The Coyotes received a 12-yard run from Logan early in the drive. Later, USD faked a punt which was unsuccessful, but Northwood was flagged for being offsides to set up a fourth-and one. On the next play, USD was successful on its conversion attempt when senior running back Travis Mlady (Bloomfield, NE) gained two yards to keep the drive alive.

Three plays later on a fourth-and one-play from the Northwood 35-yard line, Shepard was able to continue the drive with a three-yard run. A pass interference call against Northwood with seven seconds gave USD another crack at the end zone.

South Dakota had 183 yards in total offense on 36 plays during the first half. Shepard completed 9-of-17 passes for 119 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Little had three receptions for 60 yards while Allison had three catches for 37 yards. Northwood had 188 yards in total offense on 29

plays, including 106 passing. The Timberwolves had 82 yards rushing on 23 carries led by Torris Childs with 39 yards

on 10 carries with a TD. Phillip Davis had two receptions for 61 yards and a TD in the first half.

Mlady set up the Coyotes tying score when by returning the opening kickoff of the second half 51 yards to a 39-yard line. After a nine yard run by Logan, Shepard and Allison again hooked up on a scoring play, this time from 27-yards as USD tied the game at 14-14.

Later, another return helped set up the Coyotes for their first lead of the day. Logan returned a punt 42 yards to the Northwood 35-yard line. On a key third down play, Allison caught his third TD pass of the game from Shepard from 14 yards out, making the score 21-14 in favor of USD.

Northwood tied the game on a three-yard TD run with 14:03 to play in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves moved the ball 86 yards on seven plays in 3:17 to tie the game. The key play in the drive was a 59-yard reception by Ivy.

Sophomore tight end Brandon White (Chester) caught a four-TD pass from Noah Shepard with 3:43 to play to give USD a 28-21 lead. Then Northwood answered with a 62-yard scoring drive to tie the game on an eight yard TD run by Casey Steffen.

That score, which came with 43 seconds left on the clock, set up the dramatic overtime session.

The Timberwolves won the coin toss and chose to go on defense to start the overtime session. USD's drive only went three yards, but Leibfarth connected from 40-yards out to give the Coyotes a 31-28 lead. It was the second time in Leibfarth's career he hit a field goal in overtime to give South Dakota a victory, with the first coming last season at Colorado School of Mines.

Northwood trailed by three, but had the ball with a chance to force a second overtime period with a field goal, or win it outright with a touchdown. After gaining five yards on their first two plays, a Timberwolf pass play fell incomplete on third-and-five. Northwood kicker Chris Kollias came out for a 37-yard field goal attempt to tie the game, but his kick sailed wide left and allowed South Dakota to advance to face defending national champion Grand Valley State next weekend.

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