VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Coyotes are fresh off their first conference win of the season, a 38-10 decisive victory over Indiana State.
USD scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from Indiana State, sending the Coyotes to 1-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
“One of the things that you have to do to win games in the (Missouri) Valley is you have to play well in the fourth quarter,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “A lot of games are going to come down to the last possession and even though last game didn’t come down to the last possession, the way we played in the fourth quarter and being able to play with a lead is an important experience for our guys.”
Now USD will prepare for a tough slate of games as they’ll play four ranked opponents in its final six games of the season.
“We’ve got an opportunity to play a ranked football team, you know a nationally ranked football team again,” Nielson said. “We had an opportunity to do that down at Missouri State and we felt that we left a few plays on the table down there and now we play a North Dakota team and that was really a hard fought game, up there last year.”
“It’s really important that we work hard and focus on preparation for USD,” North Dakota head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “This is a team that is scoring a lot of points, they’re getting off to fast starts, I think they’re very good on defense, they’re big and physical up front and they really play hard and they create turnovers.”
The Coyotes are scoring more than 31 points per game, which is nearly two touchdowns more than they scored in the 2021 spring season. Much of that success can be credited to the growth of starting quarterback, Carson Camp.
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“Carson played with greater poise Saturday and he had really good pocket presence. He actually extended a couple of plays with his feet,” Nielson said.
“He’s got Carter Bell and Kody Case who are two guys that I think are really skilled and they use them well in their offense and (Brett) Samson the tight end is a talented player,” Schweigert said. “Going back to Camp, he’s just a real competitor. He plays hard, he can get out and hurt you with his feet and anytime a guy can get out and scramble and you’ve got to be concerned, it changes your plan a bit on how you can attack him and how you plan to contain him.”
The defense has also seen significant improvements from spring to fall as the Coyotes are allowing eight points less per contest, including just 95 yards rushing per game.
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“Defensively, we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. One of the big priorities going into the fall season was to be better against the run,” Nielson said. “We’ve shown over the first five weeks that we are a better defense against the run. Now as we get into the league and play some of the teams that play in the league, you’re going to get tested, more significantly than we have to this point.”
Saturday’s contest will be a big one for the Coyotes as they’ll look to keep their playoffs hope alive, while also seeking a win over No. 13 North Dakota.
“If you’re going to be in this conference race at the end of the year, then you’ve got to play well and win games at home. Then you’ve got to find a way to win a couple on the road and that’s this kind of game,” Nielson said. “We’re looking at a stretch on our schedule, where we’re going to play ranked team after ranked team after ranked team, and if you want to be a ranked team yourself, you’ve got to beat some ranked teams.”
“I know their staff quite well and we’re looking forward to the challenge and it’ll be a big challenge to go on the road against a very good opponent,” Schweigert said.
The Coyotes and Fighting Hawks will cross paths on Saturday in the DakotaDome. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.