Apparently winning two consecutive Missouri Valley games wasn’t enough for the University of South Dakota football team. After losing their first nine contests within their new conference, the Coyotes now look on their schedule and see three straight wins, and currently sit in third place in the MVC.
Heading into last Saturday’s game against No. 13 Northern Iowa, the Coyotes were obvious underdogs. The odds of winning were even more substantial when the Coyotes fell behind 28-7 halfway through the third quarter. But according to head coach Joe Glenn, the players never stopped believing.
The rally started when sophomore quarterback Kevin Earl connected with first-year wide receiver Riley Donovan on a 43-yard touchdown with 3:20 left in the third quarter. Saturday marked the “get to know me” party for the young wideout, who just a few weeks ago was in the midst of being redshirted.
The team continued churning away at the lead, eventually getting the game into overtime when Earl, on fourth down, connected with junior wide receiver Terrance Terry from three yards out with only five seconds remaining.
In overtime, the Coyotes put the pedal to medal, scoring on an Earl one-yard touchdown run. UNI would go on to turn the ball over on downs, resulting in an ESPN Instant Classic.
“Hands down the greatest comeback I’ve ever been apart of,” Glenn said. “We had things go against us, but we bounced back. It was against a ranked team and on top of that it was at their place. It was really special.”
Earl, who moved to 3-0 as the team’s starter, threw for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns. Donovan racked up 178 yards and two touchdowns, while first-year running back Trevor Bouma pounded the football for 149 yards on the ground. All the eye-popping stats resulted in numerous accolades, including the Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Week honors being split between Earl and Donovan.
“I’ve never had a honor like this,” Earl said. “There’s so many good players in the MVC, so it’s something I’ll never forget.”
This comes from an offense that before last week, failed to score more than 17 points in any game this season.
Senior tight end Tyler Wilhelm said they were able to put up 38 points on UNI because nobody gave up.
“Nobody hung their heads when we were down,” Wilhelm said. “We continued to fight. One thing lead to another and it ended up turning out the way we wanted it to.”
The Coyotes will look to continue their win streak against a 3-4 Illinois State team that Earl described as having a “very similar talent level to UNI.”
The Oct. 26 showdown, which will be held in Normal, Ill., will kickoff at 1 p.m.