USD football defeats Nebraska-Omaha 45-25

USD football defeats Nebraska-Omaha 45-25
Senior Stefan Logan led an explosive offense as the 20th-ranked South Dakota Football Team (8-2, 6-1 NCC) defeated seventh-ranked Nebraska-Omaha (7-2, 6-1 NCC), 45-28, in North Central Conference action on Saturday, Nov. 4 before 9,879 in attendance on Senior Day at the DakotaDome.

With the win, USD forged a tie atop the NCC with Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota, as all three teams are tied with 6-1 records. South Dakota also extended its home winning streak to 19 games, including 6-0 at the DakotaDome in each of head coach Ed Meierkort's three seasons at South Dakota.

"This was a huge win for us," said Meierkort, who is now 26-6 overall at USD, including 14-5 in NCC play. "Now for the third year in a row, we will face North Dakota for a chance to win or gain a share of the NCC title. It is extremely pleasing that we were able to continue our home winning streak," he said.

"I think the key for us was that our offense made a few more big plays than UNO. We had a very focused team, who rebounded from a loss with a very big win," said Meierkort.

Logan, a senior All American running back from Miami, FL, had 163 yards rushing on 24 carries with two TDs and recorded his 33rd 100-yard rushing game of his career. Logan had 210 all purpose yards and moved into the top 10 all-time in NCAA Division II with 7,265 all purpose yards. Logan was one of 16 USD seniors who played their final regular season game at the DakotaDome.

"This win means a lot," said Logan, who is a candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II Player of the Year. "Our offensive line had a great performance. We wanted to win this for our seniors because it was important that we continued our home winning streak. We played hard and physical and beat a very good team," he said. "It is a very emotional and satisfying feeling to do this today," he said.

Senior wide receiver Desmond Allison (Tampa, FL) had two catches for 49 yards. He noted that this was a big-time game and the Coyotes were able to prevail. "This was important for us to help us continue to fulfill our goal of trying to win another NCC title and keeping alive our chances to go to the playoffs. We took care of business," said Allison.

USD finished with 490 yards in total offense, including 303 on the ground. USD quarterback Noah Shepard, a redshirt freshman from Thornton, CO, completed 6-of-12 passes for 195 yards and a TD. Jordan Murphy, a junior from Aberdeen, led the USD receivers with two receptions for 78 yards and one TD. Over the last four games, USD is averaging 41 points per game.

The game was tied 7-7 after one quarter with USD putting up two second quarter TDs to take a 21-14 lead to halftime. The Coyotes led, 35-21, after three quarters and added 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 45-28 verdict. It was the Coyotes' second straight win against Nebraska-Omaha with both games at the DakotaDome.

UNO finished with 286 yards in total offense, including 179 yards rushing on 35 carries. While UNO became the first USD opponent this year to gain more than 100 yards rushing in a game, the Coyotes held UNO, the nation's third-ranked rushing team, to nearly 100 yards below its season's average. The Mavericks also generated 107 yards through the air. UNO quarterback Zach Miller completed 8-of-15 passes for 70 yards with one TD and an interception. He also rushed for 35 yards. Nate Wurth led the UNO rushing attack with 69 yards on 12 carries while Kyle Kasperbauer had 65 yards on 14 carries.

The Coyotes grabbed a 7-0 lead with a 12-play, 92-yard scoring drive that was capped by a one-yard TD run by Travis Mlady at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter. Mlady, a senior from Bloomfield, NE, finished with 87 yards rushing on 11 carries and had two TDs. He also had a season-best 54-yard run.

After a South Dakota turnover, Miller scored on a 10-yard run to pull UNO even with South Dakota at 7-7 with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. The Coyotes answered with a seven play, 75-yard scoring drive when Shepard scored on a one-yard run at the 11:25 mark to give USD a 14-7 advantage. The Coyotes built a 21-7 lead when Logan scored on a five-yard run with 3:27 left in the second quarter. Logan's score capped a nine-play, 99-yard scoring drive. Then, UNO answered just before halftime as Miller threw a six-yard TD pass to Troy Kush with 28 seconds left in the half. The UNO scoring drive covered 71 yards in 12 plays.

After USD was unable to move the ball on the first drive of the second half, UNO used its vaunted special teams to again pull even with USD. Trent Lyons scored on a 28-yard blocked punt at the 12:57 mark of the third quarter to tie the game at 21-21.

The Coyotes never trailed in the game and answered the UNO special teams' score. With 9:09 to play in the third quarter, Murphy hauled in a 34-yard pass from Shepard to build USD's lead to 28-21. The USD scoring drive covered 80 yards in six plays. Later in the quarter, Logan found pay dirt on a 36-yard run at the 4:27 mark as USD led, 35-21.

UNO came right back with a score when Stuart Frazier scored on a one-yard run at the 10:07 mark of the fourth quarter. The UNO scoring drive covered 67 yards in seven plays.

It was the Coyote defense that helped USD put the game on ice. With a chance to tie the game, UNO's Kasperbauer fumbled and USD's Byron Thomas (sophomore, Palmdale, CA) recovered the loose ball at the UNO 32-yard line. Logan rambled 31 yards on the next play which was followed by Mlady's second TD of the day on a one-yard plunge at the 5:52 mark of the third quarter. With Frank Leibfarth's (Yankton) kick, USD led 42-28. On the ensuing UNO possession, the Coyote defense again came up big as senior strong safety Chris Reid (Hills, MN) picked off a Miller pass to set up USD at the UNO 22-yard line. Four plays later, Leibfarth connected on a 37-yard field goal to build the USD lead to 45-27 at the 2:51 mark.

Aside from his interception, Reid led the Coyotes with nine tackles, including six solo stops and two passes defended. Senior free safety Tim Dacy (Gregory) had seven tackles. USD finished with three tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and forced two turnovers (fumble, interception).

Next up for South Dakota will be a challenging road game against 10th-ranked North Dakota at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND.

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