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South Dakota football upsets No. 13 North Dakota at home

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VERMILLION, S.D. — Just when he needed to, South Dakota kicker Mason Lorber delivered.

Lorber booted a career-long 54-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter of USD’s 20-13 victory over 13th-ranked North Dakota Saturday at the DakotaDome.

The kick split the uprights with plenty of distance to spare, extending the Coyotes’ lead to 20-10 with 12:15 left in the game.

Coach Bob Nielson elected to go for the field goal instead of punt the ball back to the Fighting Hawks with a seven-point lead.

“Going into the game, Mason’s been kicking the ball really well in practice and he loves kicking in the dome,” Nielson said. “We knew points were going to be a premium in this game. I said early on to our staff, if we get a chance to kick a long field goal today we’re going to do it. Sometimes in situations like that we’ve gone for it, but we picked up three or four yards on the previous play that got us inside 55 yards, which is well within his range. When it came off his foot, there was no doubt. That thing was right down the middle with plenty of distance.”

The 54-yard field equaled the longest in school history. Lorber’s previous best was from 44 yards.

“Honestly I was kind of surprised he even called the kick,” Lorber said. “I had never attempted a 50-yard field goal since I came here. I was pretty excited, but I didn’t realize how far it was until after the kick.”

It turned out to be vitally important, since after North Dakota kicked a 25-yard field goal with just under six minutes left, the Coyotes were able to run out the clock.

Travis Theis, who rushed for a game-high 138 yards, was a one-man wrecking crew on the final possession. The freshman carried six straight times, beginning with a 22-yard run in which he hurdled a North Dakota defender.

“We talked about it before the drive, we knew what we had to do, get first downs any way we could,” Theis said. “They were tackling low the whole game, so I either had to make him miss outside or jump over him.”

North Dakota came into the game with a much more highly touted running game, featuring All-American Otis Weah, who torched the Coyotes for 163 yards and two touchdowns last season in Grand Forks.

However, South Dakota turned the tables, outrushing the Fighting Hawks 189-50.

“Our defense gives it our all every week,” said DeRaun McKinney, who registered a team-high 11 tackles and broke up a pair of passes. “Our coaches are hard on us because they know what we’re capable of. If we practice hard, I know we’re going to play hard.”

McKinney’s second breakup came just before North Dakota had to settle for a 25-yard Brady Stevens field goal. He got a hand in on a North Dakota receiver in the end zone, batting away a potential touchdown pass.

“I’m really proud of our football team, that’s a great win,” Nielson said. “That’s a real good team we played, a team that’s not going to beat themselves. You have to find ways to win and I think our guys found ways to win today.

“You look at that stop late in the fourth quarter, some of the things we haven’t done well in prior weeks. You look at the way we were able to close out the game with five-and-half minutes and never giving the ball back. That’s what it’s going to take to win close games in the Valley, which is something that we have to be able to do.”

South Dakota, now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, has beaten a ranked team every season since 2013.

Carson Camp completed 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Camp had a 7-yard scoring pass to Caleb Vander Esch and a 24-yard strike to Wesley Eliodor.

The Coyotes continued a positive trend by marching 73 yards in nine plays on their first possession.

Camp threw a short pass to Vander Esch, who eluded a defender and dove to the right pylon.

Overshadowed by some of the other stuff that occurred, Vander Esch had eight receptions for 92 yards. Seven of those came in the first half.

Coming into the contest, USD had outscored its four FCS foes 115-24 in the first quarter and outgained them 1,221-496.

Camp appeared to have thrown his second touchdown pass on the next USD drive, but a 5-yard zip to Brett Samson was nullified because of a 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty.

Instead, the Coyotes settled for a 37-yard Lorber field goal, taking a 10-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter.

North Dakota answered with a quick 75-yard march, taking just eight plays to get on the board. Tommy Schuster -- who was 3-for-3 in the drive, hit Brock Boltmann on a 14-yard scoring pass with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

The Coyotes put together a much-needed impressive drive to start the second half. Jaevon McQuinty made a nice catch on third down to keep the march alive and Camp connected with Eliodor for a 24-yard scoring strike at the 8:25 mark of the third quarter.

North Dakota’s Weah carried 15 times, but was limited to 58 yards. Schuster was 24-for-37 through the air for 208 yards.

The Coyotes improved to 3-0 at home, but hit the road again next week, traveling to Northern Iowa.

“You’re always going to play a really good team in this conference,” Nielson said. “To be in it in the end, you have to win at home -- which we’ve done to this point -- and you have to find ways to win some games on the road.

“I’m really proud of the way our guys played today. We played like a confident football team that’s got something to prove. Now the challenge is going to be against a really talented Northern Iowa team next week.”


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