VERMILLION, S.D. | Leave it to University of South Dakota football coach Joe Glenn to incorporate country music into the joy of breaking a nine-game losing streak.
They don’t call him “Cowboy Joe” for nothing.
“Some of you may remember Merle Haggard, the country western singer,” Glenn said following his team’s 10-7 victory over UC Davis on Saturday. “He’s got a song called ‘Reasons to Quit.’ One of the lines in there is true in coaching. ‘The low keeps getting lower than the high.’
“Now, he’s talking about something else, but winning and losing is a lot the same as drugs. When you win, you just go on to the next game and it’s over. But when you lose, like nine in a row, it just wears on you heavier for another week. Then you get beat down by one of the best teams and it’s really hard, so we just have to get off that.
“But at this time in my life, I have to say Merle Haggard is wrong. I’m going to wear this one all week long. We’re going to get ready for Kansas but the last thing I’m going to think about before I go to bed each night this week is what a sweet victory it was over UC Davis.”
USD downed UC Davis, 10-7, winning its 11th consecutive home opener. A short touchdown run by quarterback Josh Vander Maten and a 39-yard field goal by freshman Miles Bergner were enough to let the Coyotes snap a nine-game skid, dating back to Sept. 8 of last season.
“I’ve had my days, but I couldn’t be happier for the kids and our coaching staff,” Glenn said. “One game doesn’t make a season, but we needed to have the scoreboard show the effort and the love they’ve given and the way they’ve hung in there and kept working and never once got down. They just kept fighting.”
The Coyotes were 1-10 last season, suffering four losses by three points and another by seven. They were winless in their first season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
“During the offseason we talked about it a little bit,” said senior defensive back Devin Taverna. “It was in the back of our head but we also corrected it because that was last year. It’s a new year, a new team. We’re going to learn from the mistakes we had on the field and at the same time we’re going to get better and look forward to 2013, not back to 2012.”
South Dakota’s defense pitched a shutout for 56 minutes and the offense preserved the victory by running out the final 3:50 of the clock.
It sends the Coyotes to Lawrence, Kan., for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against the Jayhawks in a positive frame of mind.
And, North Dakota State proved on Friday that anything can happen, stunning Kansas State on a last-minute scoring drive.