Cal Poly scored 27 points in the second half to upset No. 15 South Dakota Saturday evening 27-24 in a Great West Conference matchup of the league's top two teams. With the loss, the Coyotes fell to 5-4 on the year and 2-1 in conference play, while Cal Poly improved to 5-3 on the year and 3-0 in the Great West Conference.
"I feel bad for our team," South Dakota head football coach Ed Meierkort said. We panicked a little down the stretch and I thought we played very hard – well at times, too. Cal Poly is a good football team and we knew they would come charging. We missed some opportunities to put them away."
After both teams had to punt on their first two possessions, the Coyotes were in a third-and-long deep in their own territory when senior Dante Warren (Arlington Heights, IL) threw a 49-yard slant pass to junior wide receiver Will Powell (Sioux Falls) setting the Coyotes up at the Cal Poly 24-yard line. South Dakota moved the ball to the five, but was unable to get six as sophomore kicker Kevin Robb (Rapid City) put the Coyotes on the board first with a 22-yard field goal 2:38 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing Cal Poly possession, senior defensive back Shane Potter (Becker, MN) had a big tackle in the backfield on Mustang quarterback Andre Broadous, who tried the option to no avail forcing the Mustangs to punt.
After the fourth punt by Cal Poly, the Coyotes started moving the ball with two quick first downs and a personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Warren moved the Coyotes to the 30-yard line of the Mustangs. Warren then threw a 29-yard touchdown strike to senior Dustin Nowotny (Rapid City) for a 10-0 lead with 8:33 remaining in the half. It was Nowotny's third touchdown reception of the season and Warren's eight touchdown pass of the year.
The Mustangs went for it on fourth-and-one and senior defensive back Shea Williams hurried Broadous and sacked him for a 5-yard loss turning the ball back over to the Coyotes. On the first play from scrimmage Warren went deep for his second score as he connected with Powell for a 44-yard strike for a 17-0 lead with 6:43 left in the half.
Cal Poly started moving the ball and got into Coyote territory, but a big sack and forced fumble by sophomore Tyler Starr (Little Rock, IA) and recovery by senior linebacker Andrew Meier (Guthrie Center, IA) quieted the crowd who had begun to get into the game.
The Coyotes took a 17-0 lead into the locker room as outgained the Mustangs 204-73 in the first half, 149-29 in passing yards and held a 9-4 lead in first downs. In addition, the Coyotes held a 55-44 lead in rushing yards as Cal Poly entered as the top rushing team in the conference at 254.4 yards per game which ranks sixth nationally, too.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Mustangs used a 15 play drive which ended with a 22-yard field goal by James Langford for a 17-3 score. After turnover on downs by the Coyotes, Broadous threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Jake Romanelli with 1:52 remaining in the third quarter cutting the Coyote lead to 17-10.
On a third and nine from the Coyote side of the field, redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Vander Maten (Boyden, Iowa) threw a 31-yard pass to senior wide receiver Jeremy Blount (Tampa, Fla.) to keep the drive going. On a third-and-five from the 15 yard line, Vander Maten called his own number and scampered into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of his career putting the Coyotes up 24-10 with 13:32 left.
Vander Maten entered the game as Warren left with an injury and did not return.
The Coyotes tried an onside kick on the ensuing kick, but the referees ruled the ball didn't travel 10 yards giving the Mustangs the ball at the Coyote 40. Two sacks and a forced fumble by Potter, including a fourth down sack gave the Coyotes the ball back at the 40.
"We didn't get the call on the onside kick, which I thought was really too bad," Meierkort added. "We had a two touchdown lead with eight-and-a-half left and we got out of it, but we missed the fumble on the other one and that's what happens when you lose a tight game like tonight."
Broadous, on fourth and one from the two, scored to bring the Mustangs within 24-17 with 4:47 left on a 76-yard drive using 3:48 on the clock and 13 plays. Broadous scored his second rushing touchdown to tie the game at 24 with 2:05 left.
After a Coyote punt, Greg Francis returned the punt 44 yards to the Coyote 29 with 55 seconds left. The Coyotes forced Cal Poly to attempt 39-yard field goal. Langford made the kick putting the Mustangs up 27-24 with 36 seconds remaining.
A hail mary heave by Vander Maten into the end zone with four seconds left went incomplete
The Coyotes were led by 183 yards passing from Warren as he was 11 of 16 with two scores. Powell had a game and season-high 141 yards receiving on seven catches and a score. Nowotny had three catches for 42 yards and one score as he moved into fifth all-time in receptions with 109.
Defensively the Coyotes were led by Adam Broders (Bloomfield, NE) with a career-high 18 tackles including 11 solo stops and a sack. Junior linebacker Darius Hogans (Las Vegas, NV) had a career-high 11 tackles.
Junior punter Cole Zwiefelhofer (Chippewa Falls, WI) had seven punts for 307 yards and a 43.9 average.
Broadous led the way for the Mustangs with two rushing scores and he threw for one. Romanelli had 88 yards rushing on 20 carries, while Broadous had a 25 carries for 69 yards. He was 13 of 22 for 117 yards and a score. Romanelli also had four catches for 29 yards and a score.
The Coyotes have the week off and will close out the 2011 home season Nov. 12 at 12 p.m. for Senior Day versus Missouri S&T in the DakotaDome.