Coyotes leap past St. Ambrose in
first NCAA Division 1 FCS contest The University of South Dakota football team started out its first season in Division I athletics in style Saturday night. The Coyotes, paced by a high-powered offense and a dominant defensive performance, rolled to a 52-0 rout of St. Ambrose (IA) in front of 7,825 fans at the DakotaDome. USD, which is in the midst of making the transition to Division I, was impressive in its 2008 debut. The Coyotes struck quickly, as Chris Ganious (R Fr., Houston, TX broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run on the gameâ�?�?s second play, putting USD up 7-0 with 14:12 left in the first quarter. Later in the first quarter, USD quarterback Noah Shepard (Jr., Thornton, CO) connected with receiver Dustin Nowotny (RFr., Rapid City) for a 15-yard touchdown, helping the Coyotes build a 14-0 advantage with 1:23 left in the opening frame. The Coyotes continued their offensive assault in the second quarter, going on a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, which was capped off by an 11-yard run by Ganious. Minutes later, the USD lead grew to 28-0 when Dante Warren (RFr., Arlington Heights, IL) connected with London Landry (Jr., Lancaster, CA) on an 11-yard touchdown pass. The Coyotes werenâ�?�?t through in the first half. Shepard was part of the Coyotesâ�?�? fifth touchdown drive as well when he fired a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Skelly (Jr., Champlin, MN) as USD extended its advantage to 35-0 with 1:50 left in the first half. Shepard, who was 10-of-12 passing for 180 yards and three touchdowns, provided the fireworks through the air in the second half when he threw a perfect strike to Skelly which turned into a 79-yard touchdown pass and helped USD seize total control at 42-0 with 8:58 left in the third quarter. The Coyotesâ�?�? eighth scoring drive of the contest involved a 13-play, 57-yard drive and was capped off by a 42-yard field goal by Justin Veazie (Jr., Chino, CA). The Coyotes put the icing on the victory in the fourth when Isaac Newton (Jr., New Orleans, LA) scored on a five-yard run with 5:54 showing on the clock. The Coyotes put up 547 yards in total offense, including 299 yards rushing and 248 more through the air. Ganious provided the big plays on the ground, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries. Newton finished with 89 yards on 19 carries, including the fourth quarter touchdown run. Skelly led the Coyote receiving corps with four catches on 98 yards, while Jeremy Blount (Fr., Tampa, FL) added three catches for 42 yards. Nowotny had three catches for 38 yards. USD did not commit a turnover in the contest and was 5-of-5 in red zone opportunities. USDâ�?�?s defense was dominant all night. The Coyotes forced 11 St. Ambrose punts and held the Bees to only 10 first downs. St. Ambrose managed just 174 yards of total offense in the contest. Blake Hojer (Sr., DeSmet) led the Coyote defense with nine tackles, including one for a loss. Eric Leon (So., Lancaster, CA) and Shea Williams (RFr., Alexandria) added seven tackles each. Ko Quaye (Jr., Brooklyn Park, MN) recorded an interception. Byron Thomas (Sr., Palmdale, CA) and Joel Gentile (Sr., Council Bluffs, IA) added sacks. The Coyotes also held St. Ambrose to just 3-of-17 on third-down conversions. USD resumes play Sept. 6 in Cedar Falls, IA when it takes on Northern Iowa, the No. 4-ranked team in the FCS. Game time is 4 p.m.