VERMILLION, S.D. (KWSN) —South Dakota freshman Miles Bergner kicked a 41-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining to give the Coyotes the lead and their first Missouri Valley Football Conference victory, a 17-14 win against Missouri State in front of a Dakota Days crowd of 9,758 Saturday at the DakotaDome.
Sophomore Kevin Earl made his first collegiate start at quarterback and led the Coyotes back from a 14-6, fourth-quarter deficit. He threw a middle screen to Trevor Bouma on the first play of the final quarter and Bouma scampered 18 yards for a touchdown that made it a two-point game. On the two-point try, Earl broke a tackle in the backfield, scrambled and delivered a strike to Riley Donovan that tied the game at 14-14.
Missouri State (1-5, 1-1 MVFC) ran 12 plays for 18 yards in the fourth quarter and was stymied by the Coyote defense the entire game. South Dakota (2-3, 1-1) forced three turnovers including an interception in the first quarter that bounced off a Bear receiver, up into the air and into the hands of linebacker Kyle Guziec, who returned it 22 yards for the first score of the game. The extra point went into the line and was blocked to keep the score at 6-0.
USD’s number one-ranked pass defense limited Bear quarterback Kierra Harris to 72 yards on 7 of 16 passing. Coyote linebacker Tyler Starr had eight tackles, two sacks and knocked Harris out of the game with five minutes remaining with a hit as Harris threw an incomplete pass.
Missouri State was held to a season-low 177 yards – half of its season average. The first of the Bears’ two touchdowns came on a 13-yard drive in the middle of the third quarter setup by Martin Montgomery’s strip sack of Earl and Nick Canavan’s recovery and return. The other touchdown came on special teams. A bounced pass from center back to Bergner in punt formation led to a block, recovery and 10-yard return for a score – all by running back Vernon Scott – that put MSU up 14-6 with 4:28 to go in the third quarter.
The change of quarterback got USD’s offense going early, but the Coyotes netted 89 yards during the middle two quarters. Earl drove the team 71 yards to the MSU 4 on the game’s opening possession, but was picked off by Chris Hoffmann in the end zone to stop the drive. Each of the Coyotes’ next eight offensive series gained less than 21 yards.
That changed late in the third quarter and after safety Devin Taverna forced a fumble the Coyotes recovered near midfield. Bouma was in the end zone five plays later on a one-minute drive.
An 18-yard punt by Chris Sullens set up USD’s offense near midfield with 11:48 to go. Jordan Roberts converted a 4th-and-1 on the MSU 33 and the Coyotes drove down to the 13, but Bergner’s 31-yard field goal attempt was wide left and the game remained tied with 5:14 to go.
Starr’s hit on Harris came two plays later and Ashton Glaser quarterbacked the Bears the rest of the way. Glaser misfired on all six pass attempts he made on MSU’s final two offensive series.
The Coyotes’ winning drive started on MSU’s 42. Earl hit tight end Tyler Wilhelm for 14 yards to the 28. USD ran three more plays down to the 24 to set up Bergner’s game-winning kick.
South Dakota finished with 279 yards of offense. Bouma carried 12 times for 59 yards and Roberts gained 46 yards on 13 carries. Bouma led the team in receiving, catching six passes for 56 yards and the touchdown.
USD improved to 2-0 at home this season and is 43-8 at home dating back to the 2003 season. The Coyotes host Indiana State (1-4, 0-1) on Hall of Fame weekend at 1 p.m. Saturday in Vermillion.
Courtesy: University of South Dakota