Luke Papilion broke free for a 17-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds remaining to lift the University of Sioux Falls to a 55-48 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday night in Marshall. USF improves to 3-2 overall, 1-0 NSIC South, while SMSU drops to 2-3 overall, 0-1 NSIC South.
The game was an offensive shootout with the two teams combining for 1,446 yards and 194 offensive plays. SMSU set a school record with 828 yards of total offense – breaking the previous record of 678 set versus Upper Iowa on Sept. 19, 2009. SMSU finished the night with 316 yards rushing and 33 first downs, while USF racked up 618 total yards with 424 on the ground and 34 first downs.
SMSU trailed 45-38 midway through the third quarter, but rallied with 17 straight points to take its first lead of the game with 11 minutes and 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter. USF countered with the final 10 points to earn the victory and hand SMSU’s second straight loss in the final minute of the game. Last week Bemidji State kicked the game-winning field goal with 48 seconds remaining to earn a 41-40 win.
SMSU junior running back Tyler Tonderum finished the game with 271 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 32 carries and in the process became the fifth SMSU player to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a single season in school history. He now has 1,056 yards on the season, the second highest in program single-season history.
Anthony Dean also had a huge game for SMSU finishing with a career-high 11 receptions for a career-high 308 yards and four touchdowns. He is the second SMSU player to record more than 300 yards receiving in a single-game and is the first Mustang to have four receiving touchdowns since Ray Denson in 2003. Alvin Ashley holds the single-game record of 320 receiving yards set versus Minot State in 1991.
Charlie Kern completed 31 of 48 pass attempts for a career-high 512 yards and four touchdowns. He is the fifth player in school history to pass for more than 500 yards in a single-game. Jeff Loots (1990-92) reached the mark four times during his All-American career.
Papilion had a monster game for the Cougars with 204 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while also passing for 168 yards and a pair of scores. Nephi Garcia added 136 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, while Wes Smith led the USF receiving corps with 111 yards and two touchdowns.
USF started the game strong jumping to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter following Garcia’s second touchdown run of the game.
SMSU answered on its next drive with Dean catching a 42-yard touchdown pass from Kern with 12:06 left in the second quarter to make the score 21-10. USF added a field goal midway through the quarter, before SMSU countered with a pair of touchdowns, an 82-yard pass and catch from Kern to Dean and then a 70-yard run by Tonderum to tie the score at 24-24 with 6:18 left in the half.
USF closed the half with a Papilion 14-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars a 31-24 halftime lead.
Sioux Falls opened the scoring right away in the third quarter as Papilion found Smith for a 37-yard touchdown pass to make the score 38-24. SMSU came right back as Tonderum capped a two-play, 62-yard drive with a 28-yard run to trim the deficit to 38-31.
USF pushed the lead back to 14 points on its next drive, moving the ball 70 yards on 14 plays with Papilion rushing the final 19 yards for a touchdown to make the score 45-31 with 10:15 left in the third.
SMSU then scored 17 unanswered points as Kern and Dean connected for back-to-back touchdown passes – one for six yard and another for 73 yards – to tie the score at 45-45 late in the third.
The Mustang defense – which forced three straight USF punts in the last eight minutes of the third quarter – gave the offense a chance to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. Starting from its own 30-yard line, SMSU moved down to the USF 10-yard line, but had to settle for a Lance Schuveiller 26-yard field goal to give SMAU a 48-45 advantage with 11:57 remaining in the game.
The Cougars then answered in a big way on their next drive, converting a pair of third-down conversions to move the ball to the SMSU 10-yard line. Two plays later USF faced third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but the SMSU defense held and Papilion for a rush for no yards and forced a field goal attempt. Bradley Hatfield booted a 19-yard field goal with 7:04 remaining to tie the score at 48-48.
SMSU started its next drive deep in its own end and was able to pick up just one first down and was forced to punt the ball back to USF with 3:51 left. Starting from its own 38-yard line, USF moved the ball to the SMSU 34-yard line and faced a fourth-and-one, but Brady Rose broke free for a five-yard rush to keep the drive alive. Papilion would later score on the 17-yard run to push the Cougars back in front.
SMSU had one last chance, moving the ball down to the USF 29-yard line, but a pair of throws into the end zone dropped incomplete and USF survived for the victory.
SMSU’s AJ Page led both teams with a career-high 17 tackles with one for loss, while Tate Bunkers added 15 stops.
Southwest Minnesota State returns to the road next Saturday night to face Wayne State College (2-3, 1-0 NSIC South) with kickoff set for 6 p.m.
Courtesy: Kelly Loft, SMSU