Little becomes USD career receptions leader for Coyotes

Little becomes USD career receptions leader for Coyotes
On a day in which Brooks Little became the school's career receptions leader, The University of South extended its home winning streak to 22 consecutive games in the 24-10 win over Western Washington University. After back-to-back road trips that covered over 6,000 miles, the Coyotes truly felt the meaning of homecoming. In front of 10,101 fans at the DakotaDome for Dakota Days, USD put themselves back on track for the NCC title.

The win also extended South Dakota's (4-3, 3-1 NCC) homecoming winning streak to seven. With their 24-10 win over Western Washington (2-4, 1-4 NCC), the Coyotes have now outscored their opponents 169-60 during the seven-game winning streak on Dakota Days. The win also improves USD's overall Dakota Day record to 57-28-5. Since 1991, there has only been one homecoming with a higher attendance than Saturday's game. That game was in 1997 when 10,300 fans showed up to watch the Coyotes defeat South Dakota State University 21-3.

Little (Sr., Castlewood) broke the USD career receptions record in story book fashion. With no score in the first quarter and the Coyotes facing a second and long, Little hauled in a deep pass from Noah Shepard (So., Thornton, CO.) and ran it in 51 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown catch was his 151st of his career and it broke Chris Mikkelsen (2001-04) previous record of 150. Little finished the day with four catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, all of which were game-highs.

In addition to Little's outstanding accomplishment, Amos Allen also had an impressive note in the game. He ran the ball 25 times for 136 yards and one touchdown. His 136 yards rushing on the day were 27 yards more than what Chadron State College's Danny Woodhead gained this afternoon. Woodhead, who is

the NCAA all-divisions career rushing leader, went into Saturday with a 1,076 to 1,073 lead in rushing yards over Allen for the nation's lead in rushing. However, Allen finished with 136 yards to Woodhead's 109 to take over the lead as the nation's top rusher.

Shepard finished the day with two touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 passing), despite having one of his toughest days of the season. WWU was able to pressure Shepard throughout the day and held him to just 6-of-16 passing for 117 yards. He also was intercepted twice in the game, although his first interception was on the final play of the first half on a hail mary pass into the end zone.

The USD defense was led by John Morales (Sr., Martinez, CA), who had a career day. The defensive end had a career-high three sacks as USD as a team combined for seven. Morales also led the Coyotes with six tackles and two pass deflections. Blake Hojer (Sr., DeSmet) also had six tackles in the game while T.J. Simmons (Jr., Houston, TX) added five.

South Dakota's defense had arguably its best performance of the season. They limited Western Washington to just 199 yards of total offense, the lowest amount of yardage by an opponent this season. They allowed just 105 yards passing, also the lowest amount this season, and held an opponent to under 200 yards passing for the third time this season.

Western Washington was led by Craig Garner who finished the day with 118 yards rushing on 24 carries. WWU quarterback Adam Perry completed 10-of-21 passes for 105 yards.

After Little's record-breaking touchdown that put USD up 7-0 in the first quarter, both teams struggled to get any rhythm going on offense. Neither team found the end zone until midway through the second quarter when WWU got on the board to tie the game. After a USD fumble gave the Vikings the ball at the Coyote 22, WWU wasted little time in getting into the end zone. Garner started the drive off with a 21-yard run to give the Vikings first and goal on the one. After two unsuccessful quarterback sneaks, Perry was final able to get in for a touchdown when he ran in between the left guard and tackle.

South Dakota would regain the lead on the next possession, thanks to Allen and Matt Lee (So., Oxnard, CA). The Coyotes two running backs ran the ball nine of the team's 11 plays on the drive and gained 59 yards. USD's only pass on the drive was an incomplete pass on third and seven. Following the incompletion, Frank Leibfarth (Sr., Yankton) converted a 27-yard field goal to put USD back up 10-7 which would be the score going into halftime.

The Coyotes received the ball to start the second half, and quickly march down the field to score. Allen had a 27-yard run that was followed by a Shepard to Little 22-yard pass play that set up a three-yard touchdown run for Allen. His touchdown run, which put USD up 17-7, was his team-leading ninth rushing touchdown of the season.

After the Coyotes held Western Washington to a three and out on their possession following the touchdown, South Dakota put the game away with an eight play, 73-yard drive. Allen and Lee again played a critical role in the touchdown drive. Allen had a 42-yard run and Lee had a 15-yard carry. After back-to-back penalties gave the Coyotes the ball on the WWU one yard line, Shepard ran his third touchdown of the season to give USD a 24-7 lead.

Western Washington would add a field goal (as well as a missed field goal) in the fourth quarter, but it would prove to be too little, too late. Although the Coyotes did not score in the fourth, they had the ball almost equal to as long as WWU and never allowed them to gain any momentum.

South Dakota will now return to the road for their next game. The Coyotes will travel north to face in-state rivals Augustana College on Saturday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

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