The University of South Dakota Coyotes will host the University of Southern Utah Thunderbirds for the Dakota Days homecoming game this Saturday at the DakotaDome at 4 p.m.
The No. 18 ranked Coyotes are 3-2 after a 30-0 shut out of Lindenwood University, while the No. 22 ranked 3-2 Thunderbirds are coming off a loss to North Dakota.
This will be the first time two Top 25 FCS ranked teams will play in the DakotaDome as well as a first Great West conference match-up for
Head coach Ed Meierkort said the whole homecoming experience makes the game a memorable one.
“I love the homecoming game,” Meierkort said. “The buzz around campus is great. Everyone prepares for this game.”
Junior wide receiver Will Powell said he can’t wait to play in front of the homecoming day fans.
“It’s the best game of the year. I love how all the alumni come back for the game,” Powell said. “The atmosphere is great and because of it, we play better.”
Last year the Thunderbirds ended up beating the Coyotes 31-13
Powell said the team is going to be more focused in practice this week.
“I think for this week’s game the whole team is going to practice harder,” Powell said. “The combination of them beating us last year and that it is the homecoming game should get every player’s attention.”
Powell, who had two touchdowns in last year’s homecoming game, said he is excited to get back on the field for this year’s homecoming game.
“It is just another game, but I will not shy away from the bigger crowd that comes out to watch,” Powell said. “I definitely play harder with a bigger crowd watching.”
The Thunderbirds top-two playmakers are junior quarterback Brad Sorenson and senior wide receiver Jared Ursua.
Ursua has caught four of Sorenson’s nine touchdown passes this year.
Sophomore linebacker Chad Hansen leads the Southern Utah defense with 48 tackles.
Meierkort said Southern Utah will not be an easy opponent, but has his game plan set.
“It’s going to be very similar to how we played against Eastern Washington earlier this year,” Meierkort said. “We are going to have to pressure the quarterback and switch up our coverage’s on defense.”
Last year the Coyotes played the University of North Dakota during D-Days and won with a final score of 27-17.
During half time of the game on Saturday USD will announce the homecoming King and Queen of Dakota Days.
Reach reporter Grant Bosiacki at Grant.Bosiacki@usd.edu