Defense sparks Coyotes to 34-3 win over Missouri S&T in Dakota Days contest The University of South Dakota football team used a strong defensive effort to defeat Missouri S&T, 34-3, in front of 9,654 fans at the annual Dakota Days game Saturday in Vermillion. The Coyotes (3-4) got a big game from Tyler Spease (Sr., Rapid City) on defense. He led the team with nine tackles, including one for a loss, while also recording an interception in the second quarter. Byron Thomas (Sr., Palmdale, CA) added 1.5 sacks and a big interception return for the Coyote defense, while Byron Bullock (Sr., Inglewood, CA) collected eight tackles. USDâ�?�?s defense made a statement early with a key goal-line stand. The Miners (3-3) drove inside the Coyote 10-yard line, thanks to a short passing game, but on a fourth down, they were stopped on as USDâ�?�?s Blake Hojer (Sr., DeSmet) stopped Jerome Miller for no gain to end the drive. Missouri S&Tâ�?�?s defense kept the Coyotes at bay for much of the first half, although USD did put together a solid scoring drive in the second quarter. The drive, which spanned 81 yards on 15 plays, was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Noah Shepard (Jr., Thornton, CO) to Ben Oberle (Jr., Vermillion) with 4:30 left in the first half. The extra point was blocked, but USD held a 6-0 advantage. USDâ�?�?s defense answered again immediately, as Spease intercepted a pass from Jason Schleuter to put the Coyotes back in prime field position. The Miner defense prevented the Coyotes from scoring, however, leaving the contest at 6-0, where it stood at halftime. USDâ�?�?s offense warmed up in the second half. After a short kickoff and 11-yard return by Eric Leon, the Coyotes quickly moved down field on a five-play, 47-yard drive, which was capped off by a three-yard scoring run by Isaac Newton. With Shepardâ�?�?s two-point conversion run, the Coyotes were up 14-0 with 12:38 left in the first half. Once again, USDâ�?�?s defense stepped up big. Missouri S&T had driven to the Coyote four-yard line and was threatening to score when a pass was tipped and intercepted by Thomas, who returned the ball all the way to the Miner 17-yard line. Four plays later, USD had struck again, as Shepard scored from one yard out, putting USD up 20-0 with 8:08 left in the third quarter. Missouri S&T got on the board in the third quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Joe Drahos to cut the Coyote lead to 20-3. The Coyotes put the game away with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. Dion Foster (So., Robbins, IL) had a one-yard run with 12:37 left to put USD up 27-3, and on its next possession, the Coyote offense found the end zone again with Chris Ganious (RFr., Houston, TX), finding the end zone from five yards out. USDâ�?�?s defense faced a challenge late as the Miners mounted one last scoring drive; however, the Coyotes stopped Missouri S&T at the one-yard line as time expired to prevent the Miners from finding the end zone. Shepard finished 14-of-22 passing for 159 yards and a touchdown.�? Dan Skelly (Jr., Champlin, MN) had another big receiving game for USD, catching nine passes for 124 yards. Ganious had 13 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. Ko Quaye (Jr., Champlin Park, MN) had seven tackles for USDâ�?�?s defense, which held Missouri S&T to just 275 yards of offense. The Coyotes also forced the Miners to go just 4-of-13 on third-down conversions. USD now has won eight consecutive Dakota Days games, including all five played under Coach Ed Meierkort. The Coyotes are 26-1 at the DakotaDome under Meierkort. The Coyotes are off until Nov. 1, when they will face North Greenville in Tigerville, SC. Game time is 11 a.m. Central time.