The University of South Dakota football team dominated just about every statistic on both sides of the ball but had to overcome several mental errors to earn a 17-14 victory against Missouri Valley opponent Indiana State at the DakotaDome Saturday afternoon.
“We’re playing good enough to win but I know we can play better,” USD head coach Joe Glenn said after the game.
The win moved USD (3-3, 2-1 in Missouri Valley Conference) to .500 on the season and marked the second win in a row. For the Sycamores the loss marked their fifth of the season and dropped them to 1-2 in conference play.
Despite the mental errors, Glenn said he was proud of the way his team played and showed resiliency after facing a 14-7 halftime deficit.
“It says a lot about the kids,” Glenn said. “I’ve been with teams that don’t compete hard. Our team last year didn’t have as much competitive spirit as this group. These guys want to shake you down and get after you.”
The Coyotes were led by redshirt first-year Trevor Bouma. He set a career-high in rushing yards with 145. He scored both of USD’s touchdowns. The 5’11, 215 pound running back shouldered the bulk of the work on the ground with 28 carries.
“It feels a lot like high school, where I kind of carried the load,” Bouma said. “The offensive line did a great job and our fullbacks did a heck of a job sticking it up in there and getting us four yards when we had to.”
While Bouma shined on offense, the Coyote defense led the way to victory. ISU’s offensive attack was held to just 198 total yards of offense and managed just 14 first downs.
“The defense can’t wait to get out there, they’re playing with that much confidence right now,” Glenn said. “They’d stay out there and play all day if they could.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Drew Iddings said the Coyote defense understand many of the defensive schemes better this year compared to last season.
“I think we understand the defense a lot better,” Iddings said. “We’re not making the same mistakes we made last year, we’ve corrected them. Our coaches played good schemes. They gave us a lot of 1-on 1 matchups for us to take advantage of.
After failing to score on the opening drive, Indiana State punted and USD took over at their own 30 yard line. The Coyote offense was directed by sophomore quarterback Kevin Earl for a second consecutive week.
After missing a long pass to junior Terrence Terry on the previous play, Earl connected on a 50-yard pass to senior Kevin Wilhelm. That set up a series of Trevor Bouma runs, the last of which resulted in a 3-yard touchdown.
Indiana State quickly responded, putting together a nine play, 80 yard drive in 3:11. ISU quarterback Rob Tonyan, Jr. connected with A.J. Johnson on a 22-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.
After getting the ball over midfield, the Coyote offense failed to pick up a fourth down and first-year kicker Miles Bergner pushed a 50-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Both teams traded offensive possessions and the Coyote defense stopped ISU for a second consecutive drive at the 13:22 mark in the second quarter.
USD managed to drive all the way to the ISU 5-yard line before Kevin Earl’s pass was tipped by the defensive line and intercepted by the Sycamores.
USD would commit two more turnovers—another interception and a botched punt return— before halftime. While neither of Earl’s interceptions led to Sycamore points, ISU capitalized on Aaron Swift’s snafu on a punt return. Swift allowed the ball to bounce before attempting a return and missed the ball after touching it.
ISU got the ball at the Coyote 22 yard line and marched into the end zone with just 1:05 remaining in the first half. From there, USD failed to score and trailed 14-7 at the half.
After both teams traded possessions again to start the second half, the Coyotes put together a short drive that resulted in a Miles Bergner field goal from 43-yards out to make it 14-10.
The Coyote offense was unable to capitalize on a series of 3-and-out stops by the USD defense, as ISU was forced to punt on two straight drives. Finally, the Coyotes got good field position, starting in the Indiana State territory and grounded their way into the end zone on a 4-yard Trevor Bouma touchdown run to take the lead 17-14.
USD’s defense would have to stop ISU three more times but on the final possession, Bouma and the USD line pushed their way to 3 first downs and force ISU out of time outs.