Coyotes fight to end but fall to #5 Northern Iowa 24-13

Coyotes fight to end but fall to #5 Northern Iowa 24-13 The University of South Dakota football team battled tough against the FCS��? No. 5-ranked team, the University of Northern Iowa, but fell short in a 24-13 loss to the Panthers Saturday in front of 12,904 fans at the UNIDome in Cedar Falls, IA. It was the first game against an FCS opponent this season for USD, which is competing in Division I for the first time. It was the first meeting between the schools in football since 1982, and it was the Coyotes��? fourth-ever trip to the UNI-Dome. UNI (1-1) now holds a 22-17-1 lead all-time in the series. The Coyotes (1-1) fell short despite holding the statistical edge in several categories, including total yards (415-324), passing yards (290-130) and time of possession (37:23-22:37. Quarterback Noah Shepard (Jr., Thornton, CO) and receiver Dan Skelly (Jr., Champlin, MN) put together outstanding offensive performances in the loss for USD. Shepard rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns and also was 22-of-33 passing for 290 yards. Skelly hauled in eight passes for 144 yards. After UNI moved the ball inside Coyote territory on the game��?s initial drive, the USD defense rose to the occasion and kept the Panthers off the scoreboard, forcing a 47-yard field goal attempt which was missed by UNI��?s Billy Hallgren. On USD��?s first offensive series, the Coyotes converted a pair of big third downs to move into Panther territory, thanks to a key scramble by Shepard and an 18-yard pass from Shepard to London Landry (Jr., Lancaster, CA). Unfortunately for USD, the drive ended with a blocked field goal, leaving the game scoreless. UNI struck first on a 12-yard touchdown run by Corey Lewis with 5:29 left in the first quarter, putting the Panthers up 7-0. The Coyote defense stepped up big later in the quarter after a USD fumble near midfield. On an UNI third down, Byron Thomas (Sr., Palmdale, CA) broke free for a sack of UNI quarterback Pat Grace, forcing a Panther punt. USD��?s offense moved back into Panther territory as the second quarter commenced, with a big play being a 27-yard pass from Shepard to Skelly on a third-and-six. Later on the drive, Shepard scrambled on a bootleg for seven yards as the Coyotes converted another big third down. The UNI defense forced another field goal on the possession, however, and Justin Veazie (Jr., Chino, CA) barely missed a 47-yard field goal attempt, leaving the contest at 7-0. UNI built its lead to 14-0 when Grace connected with Schuylar Dordt on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 9:11 remaining in the opening half. USD battled right back, however. The Coyotes once again moved into Panther territory, and Shepard delivered with his arm again, hitting Ben Oberle (Jr., Vermillion) for a 28-yard strike on a fourth down, which moved USD inside the Panther 10-yard line. One play later, Shepard scrambled in for the touchdown from seven yards out, capping off an impressive 11-play, 83-yard drive which took 5:50 off the clock. With the extra point USD was within 14-7 with 3:21 left in the first half. UNI answered before the half as Grace connected with Johnny Gray on a 32-yard touchdown pass, building the UNI lead to 21-7 with 1:17 left. The Coyotes��? offense was impressive in moving the ball in the first half as they outgained UNI, 208-188. Shepard was 12-of-15 for 151 yards passing in the first half while also rushing for 44 yards. Skelly had four catches for 66 yards in the opening half. USD also had a nearly nine-minute advantage in time of possession and also converted 4-of-7 third-down attempts. The Coyotes did not punt in the opening half. The Coyotes opened the second half on offense, but UNI��?s Josh Mahoney intercepted Shepard and brought the ball inside the Coyote 20. USD��?s defense delivered again with a big stop, as it forced a UNI field goal attempt, which was missed, leaving the contest a 21-7. With less than seven minutes left in the third, USD��?s Mychal Bogan (Jr., Los Angeles, CA) picked off a pass from Grace, giving the Coyotes possession at the Panther 29-yard line. USD quickly converted the turnover into points. The key play was on 4th-and-2, when UNI was whistled for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Coyotes a 1st-and-goal from the two-yard line. Two plays later, Shepard scrambled in for the touchdown from two yards out, bringing the Coyotes back within 21-13 with 3:12 left in the third quarter. USD��?s Isaac Newton (Jr., New Orleans, LA) provided three carries for 16 yards on the seven-play, 29-yard touchdown drive for the Coyotes. UNI was on the move as the third quarter ended; however, another big play was produced by the Coyote defense, with Ryan Routh (Jr., Sioux Falls) intercepting Grace to end a potential Panther threat at the Coyote 28-yard line. On the next play, Shepard hit Brandon White (Sr., Chester) for a 29-yard gain to bring USD right back into Panther territory. Moments later, a personal foul on UNI moved the Coyotes to the Panther 23-yard line. The Coyotes moved inside the Panther 15-yard line but were inches short on a fourth down conversion, turning the ball back over to UNI. The Panthers moved 76 yards on 13 plays and settled for a 32-yard field goal by Billy Hallgren to make it 24-13 with 6:29 left in the contest. USD moved once again into UNI territory, but a fumble inside the Panther 15-yard line ended that threat. A fumble also ended a USD desperation drive in the final minute. The Coyotes struggled with four turnovers and also were whistled for nine penalties in the loss. In addition to big days from Shepard and Skelly, Oberle finished with five catches for 42 yards for USD. Landry had three catches for 41 yards, while Brandon White hauled in two passes for 41 yards. Wayne Curry (Jr., Tampa, FL) led the Coyote defense with seven tackles. Byron Bullock (Sr., Inglewood, CA), Joel Gentile (Sr., Council Bluffs, IA) and Blake Hojer (Sr., DeSmet) all had six tackles each. Routh and Bogan had interceptions. Routh finished with five unassisted tackles in the contest. USD resumes action Saturday, Sept. 13 in Hammond, LA, when it faces Southeastern Louisiana University. Game time is 6 p.m.

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