SIOUX FALLS | Joe Glenn argued vehemently that his South Dakota Coyotes had recovered a muffed punt early in Saturday night's game against North Dakota State.
The officials, though, saw it differently and the Coyotes lost out on a golden opportunity. Those are the kind of breaks a huge underdog needs when playing a powerhouse like NDSU.
North Dakota State went on to drill the Coyotes 54-0 at Howard Wood Field, sending USD to its fifth consecutive loss and first shutout defeat since 2006.
The game was technically a home game for South Dakota and the crowd of 9,269 was divided almost evenly between Red and White and Green and Gold. The Sioux Falls Sports Authority played host to the contest at the newly renovated facility.
South Dakota's first season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference continued its downward spiral. And, North Dakota State was definitely smarting after a 17-14 loss to Indiana State last week.
After all, the loss dropped the defending national champion Bison from the top spot in the FCS poll to No. 4, and they took out their frustrations on the reeling Coyotes.
USD is now winless in its first four MVFC games with a daunting slate ahead of three nationally-ranked teams in its final four games.
“We played a really good football team and they took us at every angle they could get it,” Glenn said. “Their offense, defense and special teams were way too much for us, and I give them a lot of credit, they have a great program and this is a very humbling experience.
“When they called the roughing call on us (the early punt), I looked on the screen and thought I saw their guy hit their guy. I was told our guy reached around and grabbed him. They have a much better football team, but I couldn't get over that right away and before I knew it the roof caved in on us. I've been in games like this before when you're an offensive coordinator and no matter what you call is not working and it's pretty obvious the other team has a better team than you and that was certainly the case tonight.”
So dominating was the Bison defense that South Dakota was limited to 76 total yards on 46 plays. The Coyotes managed a paltry 17 rushing yards on 27 carries and crossed the 50-yard line only once the entire game.
NDSU's Brock Jensen tied a career high with two touchdown runs and passed for two more as the Bison moved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Valley.
“I guess you could call this a statement game,” said Jensen. “There were a lot of tough breaks last week and it was important for us to move forward and not dwell on that game. It's important to bounce back from a game like that and try to execute at the best of your ability and prove that we're back in action.”
The Bison raced to a 26-0 halftime lead. USD had eight possessions in the first half that resulted in six punts, a fumble and the clock running out to end the half.
“Any time you can play dominating defense you're going to have an opportunity to win because they can maintain and set momentum,” said North Dakota State Coach Craig Bohl. “There was a look in the guys' eyes, even in the locker room, where I saw a really hard edge with our defensive guys and that's really reassuring. I felt like we were going to play really well and we certainly did.”
South Dakota crossed into Bison territory for the first time with under four minutes left in the third quarter, but Josh Vander Maten was sacked on the next play.
About the only excitement for Coyote fans was a streaker who dashed onto the field just prior to Jensen's first touchdown run. The culprit was apprehended by authorities, but not until he ran from end zone to end zone and scaled the chain-link fence surrounding the stadium.
“I'm not very used to this and I'm sure our kids aren't either,” said Glenn, who has coached two national championship teams. “They have been out in front of everybody before and people have caught them, so that's the goal, to catch North Dakota State.”
Jensen, a 6-3, 224-pound junior known more for his passing skills (he moved into second on the all-time NDSU list), had scoring runs of 10 and 2 yards while flipping a 32-yard touchdown pass to Nate Moody before intermission. Sam Ojuri added an 11-yard TD run in the first half.
The Bison picked up where they left off to start the second half, marching 74 yards in 11 plays. Jensen's second touchdown pass was a 2-yarder to Andrew Bonnet, who became the eighth NDSU player this season to haul in a touchdown pass.
Jensen was 15-for-21 for 195 yards, giving the Waupaca, Wis., product 4,881 yards for his career.
Ojuri made it 40-0 with a 2-yard plunge on the final play of the third quarter and the Bison tacked on two more touchdowns in the final stanza.
North Dakota State won for the ninth time away from home. The 17 rushing yards were the least the Bison allowed since 2006 when they gave up 14 to Ball State.
“They're a good defense, they flow and play hard,” said South Dakota quarterback Josh Vander Maten. “They put a lot of pressure on us. It just seemed like we couldn't get anything going. Give credit to them, it's a great defense.”
South Dakota had just four first downs and was 0-for-12 on third-down conversions.
The Coyotes are on the road the next two weeks, playing at Indiana State on Saturday.
NDSU 54, USD 0
North Dakota State 14 12 14 14 – 54
USD 0 0 0 0 – 0
NDSU: Brock Jensen 10 run (Adam Keller kick) 6:32
NDSU: Sam Ojuri 11 run (Keller kick) 1:33
NDSU: Jensen 2 run (kick failed) 5:51
NDSU: Nate Moody 32 pass from Jensen (kick failed) 5:22
NDSU: Andrew Bonnet 2 pass from Jensen (Keller kick) 8:44
NDSU: Ojuri 4 run (Keller kick) :00
NDSU: Taylor Nelson 19 pass from Carson Wentz (Keller kick) 5:10
NDSU: Zach Colvin 12 interception return (Keller kick) 3:28
First downs 21 4
Rushes-yards 45-171 27-17
Passing yards 214 59
Passes 16-23-0 10-19-1
Total plays-yards 68-385 46-76
Punts-avg. 4-40.0 10-42.4
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-50 11-94
Possession time 36:38 23:22
3rd down conversions 8-14 0-12
RUSHING: North Dakota State – Sam Ojuri 18-76, Deveon Dinwiddie 6-42, John Crockett 10-33, Derrick Lang 3-13, Brock Jensen 8-7. South Dakota – Marcus Sims 8-33, Jasper Sanders 11-9, Will Powell 1-0, Cole Zwiefelhofer 1-(-9), Josh Vander Maten 6-(-16).
PASSING: North Dakota State – Brock Jensen 15-21-0—195, Carson Wentz 1-2-0—19. South Dakota – Josh Vander Maten 10-19-1—59.
RECEIVING: North Dakota State – Trevor Gebhart 6-81, Nate Moody 5-91, Andrew Okland 2-15, Taylor Nelson 1-19, Kevin Vaadeland 1-6, Andrew Bonnet 1-2. South Dakota – Terrance Terry 4-125, Will Powell 3-24, Marcus Sims 2-13, Quinton McMartin 1-7.