North Dakota edges Coyotes in 34-31 overtime thriller

North Dakota edges Coyotes in 34-31 overtime thriller Brandon Hellevangâ�?�?s 33-yard field goal in the first overtime was the difference as North Dakota edged The University of South Dakota football team, 34-31 Saturday in an overtime thriller at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. It was a classic matchup between the two rivals, who both have made the jump to NCAA Division I FCS after spending years in Division II. Both schools are now members of the Great West Conference. USD (6-5, 1-2 Great West) lost despite a furious fourth-quarter rally in the 2008 finale for both teams. North Dakota had taken a 31-17 lead with 8:53 left in the game after Josh Murrayâ�?�?s 7-yard touchdown run. The Coyotes then started their comeback. Moving quickly on a 6-play, 65-yard drive, USD found the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Noah Shepard (Jr., Thornton, CO) to Dustin Little (Sr., Castlewood). The big play on the drive was a 22-yard pass from Shepard to Jeremy Blount (Fr., Tampa, FL). The Coyotes missed the extra point but were within 31-23 with 5:55 left. USDâ�?�?s defense then stepped up big, as UND quarterback Danny Freund fumbled the snap, and Wayne Curry (Jr., Tampa, FL) recovered, setting up the Coyotes at the UND 20-yard line with 4:20 left. Five plays later, Shepard scored from one yard out. However, USD still needed a two-point conversion to tie. The Coyotes converted, with Shepard finding the end zone on a run, to make it 31-31 with 1:38 left. North Dakota drove into position to attempt a field goal in the waning seconds of regulation, but Ryan Routh (Jr., Sioux Falls) broke through and blocked Hellevangâ�?�?s 47-yard attempt with two seconds left to leave the game tied at 31-31. Shepard attempted a desperation pass down the field that fell incomplete as time expired, sending the game to overtime. In the overtime, USD had the ball first. The Coyotes were stopped on a third-and-short, setting up a 37-yard field goal attempt by Justin Veazie (Jr., Chino, CA). Veazieâ�?�?s attempt just missed to the left to leave the game at 31-31. UND moved to the Coyote 16-yard line on its overtime possession to set up Hellevangâ�?�?s field goal. USD took a 10-0 lead in the first half. Veazie connected on a 23-yard field goal to cap off a 13-play, 64-yard drive in the first quarter. The Coyotes followed that with an impressive drive of 12 plays, 83 yards, which was capped off by a 3-yard scoring run by Isaac Newton (Jr., New Orleans, LA). A 62-yard touchdown run by Josh Murray put UND on the board with 12:08 left in the first half. The Coyotes answered less than two minutes later as Shepard hit Little for a 23-yard touchdown. With the extra point, USD held a 17-7 lead with 10:46 left in the first half. North Dakota scored the final 10 points of the half, including a 27-yard field goal by Hellevang in the final minute, to tie the game at 17-17, which was the halftime score. UND broke the tie with a third-quarter touchdown pass from Danny Freund to Alex Nicholas, and then built the lead to 31-17 after Murrayâ�?�?s second touchdown run before the Coyotes fought back. USD finished with 388 yards of offense, including 239 through the air and 188 on the ground. The Coyotes committed two turnovers which UND turned into 10 points. The Coyotes also converted the Siouxâ�?�?s turnover into seven points in the fourth quarter. Shepard threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown. Dustin Nowotny (RFr., Rapid City, S.D.) had seven catches for 75 yards for USD, which was playing without the injured Dan Skelly (Jr., Champlin Park, MN), the teamâ�?�?s leading receiver. Little added three catches for 55 yards. Blake Hojer (Sr., DeSmet), Byron Thomas (Sr., Palmdale, CA) and Shane Potter (RFr., Becker, MN) each had seven tackles. Tyler Spease (Sr., Rapid City) and Byron Bullock (Sr., Inglewood, CA) each recorded six. Notes: The last two meetings between the two teams have been decided by a combined seven points… it was the fifth straight time in Coach Ed Meierkortâ�?�?s tenure that USD has recorded a winning record. Meierkortâ�?�?s 39 wins in his first five seasons are the most ever by a USD football coach… Hojer finished as the Coyotesâ�?�? leading tackler for a third straight year… it marked the final home game for 10 Coyote seniors: Bullock, cornerback Isaiah Dixon (Minneapolis, MN), safety Joel Gentile (Council Bluffs, IA), offensive lineman Luke Groth (Lawton, IA), offensive lineman David Hedges (Colorado Springs, CO),Hojer, Little, Spease, Thomas and tight end Brandon White (Sr., Chester).

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