Five drives. Four touchdowns. One field goal.
Such a start took the wind from the sails of an upset-minded NAIA squad looking to upset a nationally-ranked FCS team.
When the dust settled, however, on a 60-minute blowout, it was the South Dakota football on top of Northwestern Oklahoma State 48-10 on Saturday afternoon at the DakotaDome.
The No. 23-ranked Coyotes, now 2-1, scored on their first five series touchdowns in the first four and held a 28-0 lead before the first quarter had even come to a close.
I dont enjoy those games, said coach Ed Meierkort, who picked up his 50th victory at USD. I like the win. I like the fact that we got guys who practiced just as hard as the stars get a chance to compete.
But theyre hard games to coach, he added. Theres a fine line between running it up and keeping it civil.
Civility or otherwise, the Coyotes completely dominated the visiting Rangers (0-3) all the while knowing that Wisconsin is waiting in the wings next weekend.
Such is life in an up-and-down schedule. In consecutive weeks, USD will have played defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington, a young NAIA squad and a potential FBS title contender (Wisconsin).
We came out with the mindset that we needed to worry about ourselves and play well, said USD senior linebacker Adam Broders, a Bloomfield, NE, native. Coming off that big win last week, I think we still needed to improve, and we did that.
If that was the case, put a check mark next to that goal, as the Coyotes used big plays in the first quarter to build their sizable lead.
Quarterback Dante Warren hit Will Powell on a 45-yard touchdown pass in USDs second play from scrimmage.
Five minutes later, Marcus Sims ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
The Rangers fumbled on the ensuing drive, recovered by USDs David Giese, and Chris Ganious put the Coyotes ahead 21-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run.
With 37 seconds left in the opening quarter, Warren out-ran the NWOS secondary for a 62-yard touchdown run.
The rout in progress, it was only natural to think USD would ease up on the gas pedal.
Not so said sophomore defensive end Tyler Starr, who continued his strong season with two sacks.
Its tough, because once you get up by three touchdowns like we did, its just so easy to shut down and go through the motions, Starr said. But our coaches stay on top of us; keep our motors running.
Even with a comfortable lead, the Coyotes didnt slow up in the second half.
A second Kevin Robb field goal made it 34-0, and four minutes later a 50-yard touchdown pass from Warren to Jeremy Blount continued the pressure.
USDs final score came on a 12-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback Josh Vander Maten one of three signal callers the Coyotes used to Powell in the third quarter.
It was nice to not have to go all out for four quarters, said Powell, who caught four passes for 77 yards. That was nice to get those other guys in.
Against primarily second- and third-string defenders, NW Oklahoma State scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown pass with 1:57 to play.
The end of these games are always ugly. You cant tell what sport youre playing, Meierkort said. You got guys who dont take any reps with your number one offense. We might as well have run their offense at the end.
The Coyotes were able to get most of the back-ups and third-stringers involved. Eight different players caught pass, seven attempted a rush and USD got all three quarterbacks Warren, Vander Maten and Pierre native Kyle Cichos in the game.
Just as was the case last week against top-ranked Eastern Washington, the Coyote defense was balanced and dominant. A total of thirty players recorded a tackle and four had at least one sack.
I thought we played tough; a lot faster and a lot more explosive, Starr said. Weve been consistent. Were not giving up a huge play that leads to a touchdown.
The Coyotes will need a similar effort next week if they are going to have any chance of beating No. 7-ranked Wisconsin (3-0), which has beaten its three opponents by an average of 37 points.
Its exciting for our kids, our program, and well figure out a way to compete our rear ends off like we always do, Meierkort said. As long as you put a uniform on, youve got a chance to win the game.