The University of Sioux Falls posted a season-high 54 points Saturday to edge Upper Iowa 54-41 in an old-fashion shootout at Bob Young Field. After going up by as many as 37 points in the second quarter, Upper Iowa score 28 unanswered to make for an interesting fourth quarter. A combination of clutch offense and special teams play lifted the Cougars to their eighth win of the season.
UIU trailed just 47-41 with 27 ticks on the clock, and were still in it if they could convert an onside kick, but USF fourth quarter hero Nick Bonte had other plans.
The senior linebacker recovered the kick and scampered 42 yards the other way to make it 54-41. Five plays later, he recorded USF's fourth interception of the game to secure the Cougars 41st victory at home in 42 contests.
USF got off to a great start Saturday. They scored on their opening drive for the fourth straight game, and completely dominated the Peacocks the entire first quarter.The Cougars scored a season-best in that opening period.
With a short field, Kristian Porter began the game’s scoring with a 10-yard plunge into the endzone. Next, USF went to the air. Perkins connected on strikes of nine and 36 yards to Carrington Hanna and Kendrick Celestine, while Braden Wieking tacked on a 31-yard field goal to take amass a 23-point advantage with15 minutes in the books.
Just when the visiting team was threatening to score, Jonathan Talbot came up with a big interception, which he returned 77 yards for another USF touchdown. A couple minutes later, from nine yards out, Porter tallied his second touch of the day, and it appeared the rout was on as USF went ahead 37-0 with 10:22 left in the second.
That’s when the Peacocks turned things around.
On the ensuing drive, UIU responded. Cole Jaeschke hooked up with Keaton Hosch for a 34 yard touchdown to put the Peacocks on the board. He found Hosch once again, this time for a 48 yard score with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
USF held a 37-14 advantage at the break.
Cole and Hosch were at it again in the third quarter. Cole added a two yard run for a touchdown, and Hosch recorded his third score on a 25-yard reception. Their efforts coupled with a defensive third quarter shutout made for a 37-28 game heading into the fourth.
After being held scoreless since the 10:22 mark of the second quarter, USF needed just one play to reclaim control of the game. On the very first play of the fourth quarter Taylor Perkins found Jeremiah Oates for an impressive 62 yard touchdown, most of which came after the catch.
Oates’ score made it 44-28.
UIU never gave up, and would pull within six in the final minute, but USF prevailed for the win.
The Cougars had a solid day on the ground, as Porter racked up 108 rushing yards and two TDs. His performance was just the second 100-yard day for a USF player this season. He also surpassed the 2,000 yard career rushing mark today.
Perkins charted his sixth game with three or more passing touchdowns this season. He finished 15-of-25 for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 50 yards on the ground.
Oates recorded a career-high 162 yards and one touchdown, on just six receptions. Hanna finished with six catches for 63 yards and a touch, while Kendrick Celestine had two grabs for 36 yards and one score.
On the defensive side, USF can take away both positive and negatives from today’s game. The Cougars forced four interceptions, but they also allowed UIU quarterback Jaeschke to accumulate a NSIC record 606 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Eric Anderson led USF with nine tackles, while Robert Virgil totaled eight stops and two interceptions, his fifth and sixth of the year. Bonte finished with six tackles, two for a loss, one sack, one interception and one touchdown.
USF travels to Mankato, Minn. Saturday November 3 to challenge unbeaten No. 7 Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Courtesy: Dennis Gamble, USF Media Contact