DOME DOMINATION! Coyotes cut down Lumberjacks in home opener
USD gets first win with emphatic 34-7 victory over Northern Arizona
VERMILLION, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota scored on its first three possessions and rolled to a 34-7 win over Northern Arizona in its home opener on Saturday inside the DakotaDome.
Redshirt freshman running back Travis Theis scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half while the Coyotes’ passing game also came to life after a sub-par opener in a narrow road loss to Kansas last week.
South Dakota quarterback Carson Camp hit on 15 of his 24 passes for 213 yards and he found Brett Samson from 28 yards out to open the scoring with 12:38 to play in the first quarter.
That first scoring drive covered 49 yards on just five plays, and after the Coyotes’ defense forced a three-and-out, it quickly became 14-0 as Theis completed a four-play, 59-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run.
South Dakota’s defense stiffened again as Northern Arizona was forced to punt after just four plays and the hosts turned that into an eight-play drive that eventually led to the first of two Mason Lorber field goals in the game. Lorber connected from 41 yards out to make it 17-0 and he later closed the first half scoring with a 44-yard field goal that equaled his career long with 22 ticks on the clock before halftime.
Theis, who carried 12 times for 74 yards, scored on a one-yard run between the two Lorber field goals in the first half as South Dakota led 27-0 at halftime.
The Coyote defense limited Northern Arizona to just 141 total yards in the first half in building up the big advantage.
“What a great win for our football team,” head coach Bob Nielson said. “We played well in all three phases.
“Northern Arizona is a team that executes very well in the kicking game and I thought we executed better. We had some good field positions off of some returns. Defensively, we played really well and generated some turnovers which is something that we didn’t do a week ago. Offensively, in the first half, that’s the kind of offensive football team I think we can be.”
South Dakota’s defense also accounted for the team’s lone second half touchdown as Jonathan Joanis returned an interception 51 yards for a score.
The defense, which had four sacks in the game, also had eight tackles for losses in the contest and held Northern Arizona out of the end zone on all but one drive. Jack Cochrane had eight solo stops and one assisted tackle including a tackle for loss while Brock Mogensen had one sack and one tackle for loss among his eight total stops.
The Coyotes’ offense accumulated 380 yards as 40 total rushing plays netted 158 yards. Carter Bell led the receiving corps with five catches for 59 yards.
“We were more consistent in our offensive execution and we were able to make some explosive plays in the first half which is something that we didn’t do last Friday night against Kansas,” said Nielson. “A great performance to build on and this is a football team that I’m confident is going to keep getting better and better.”
South Dakota (1-1) travels to San Luis Obispo, California, for its final non-conference contest and a 7 p.m. (CST) kickoff against Cal Poly.
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