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Earl, Coyotes follow second straight loss with Montana

It had been over a month since the University of South Dakota football team was below .500, but that’s where they now stand after a heart-breaking 38-34 loss to Youngstown State last Saturday. The Coyotes went in big underdogs against a Penguin team that was 7-1 on the season.

The Coyote defense failed to make one last stop and fell in the closing moments of the game. Senior outside linebacker Tyler Starr said the loss was one of the hardest losses he’s ever been a part of and now the goal is to not hang their heads down after such a tough loss.

“We have to move forward and on to the next game,” Starr said. “We’re all frustrated, but we can’t show that right now. We have to get ready for Montana.”

The loss was especially tough because it almost surely knocked the Coyotes out of playoff contention.

“Yeah, that opportunity is probably gone now,” head coach Joe Glenn said after last week’s loss.

Although the opportunity to play in the playoffs looks lost right now, Starr said he wants the rest of the team to continue fighting as if everything is still on the line.

“We know we have to win these next three games to even have a chance of being considered a playoff team,” Starr said. “But I want everyone to show we are still going to fight. We’re going to play for pride and for the love of the game.”

Next up on the team’s schedule is another ranked opponent, the University of Montana, who comes in ranked No. 12 in the nation. The Grizzlies only loss of the season was in a 42-37 shootout to No. 4 Eastern Washington.

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Earl said even though it’s an out of conference game, they are well aware of how good Montana is.

“They are just as good of an opponent as we’ll face this year, so they’ll be a big test for us,” Earl said.

Last year the Grizzlies beat the Coyotes 35-24 in both team’s season opener. Junior wide receiver Josh Vander Maten, who threw for 172 yards and two touchdowns against them last year, said he’ll try telling Earl everything he remembers about them.

“I told him that they’re going to be a great coached team,” Vander Maten said. “What I remember most about their defense is their great group of linebackers. I’ll help him with what I saw last year and remind him about their aggressiveness.”

Vander Maten is also coming off the first receiving touchdown of his collegiate career and said he’s gaining more and more comfort as a full-time receiver.

The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Glenn, who coached the Grizzlies to a 39-6 record from 2000-02. Glenn said it will be fun to see a few familiar faces, including two players on the team whose father’s were coached by Glenn. Glenn has never coached with any of the coaches on the Grizzlies staff but said he’s known many of them for 10-15 years, including head coach Mick Delaney.

The Coyotes will get to stay at home for the third consecutive week and take on South Dakota State in their home finale before finishing off the season at North Dakota State Nov. 23.