SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (USD) —South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons threw four touchdowns while the Coyote defense forced four turnovers in a 45-10 blitzing of Missouri State Saturday at Plaster Stadium.
It was the third win in a row for South Dakota (3-3) which improved to 2-0 in Valley play. It also marked the first win by the road team in six games in the series. Missouri State fell to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the MVFC.
It was a game featuring the top two passing offenses in the conference, but quickly became a one-sided affair. South Dakota scored 24 points during the first five minutes of the second quarter and never looked back. The Coyotes tacked on two long touchdown drives out of the break for good measure.
Simmons completed 15 of 21 passes for 228 yards in three quarters of work. He connected with Caleb Vander Esch twice for touchdowns. The first was a 56-yard screen that Vander Esch took down the right sidelines that tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter. Vander Esch also hauled in a 29-yard touchdown on a one-play drive following a Missouri State fumble. He finished with four catches for 96 yards.
Drew Greenhaw caught an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Ben Klett nabbed a 14-yarder from Simmons on the opening drive of the third quarter. Kai Henry (1-yard plunge) and Canaan Brooks (6-yard dart) also reached the end zone against the Bears.
Complementing the offense was a Coyote defense that stood tall for the third game in a row. It limited Peyton Huslig to 184 yards passing and 20 yards rushing. Huslig completed 21 of 40 passes and was picked off twice. Once was by linebacker Jack Cochrane, who returned it 40 yards to the Bears’ 4, setting up Henry’s touchdown and a 31-7 lead. Cornerback Bakhari Goodson got his first pick as a Coyote later in the second quarter.
South Dakota outgained Missouri State 452-248 including a 220-64 edge on the ground. It was the third game in a row in which the Coyotes eclipsed 200 yards rushing. Klett led all rushers with 69 yards on just five carries. Henry ran times for 57 yards, Brooks had 43 yards on eight totes and Simmons finished with 34 yards on seven runs.
Huslig was Missouri State’s leading rusher with 20 yards. Donovan Daniels ran seven times for 11 yards and DJ Frost netted eight yards on 10 carries.
In addition to his interception, Cochrane recovered a fumble and posted seven tackles including two for loss. Linebacker Jakari Starling led USD with eight stops. Darin Greenfield had four tackles including 1.5 for loss. He stands with 50 career TFL, 0.5 shy of the program’s all-time record.
South Dakota stays on the road one more week to take on the Northern Iowa Panthers (3-3, 1-1) next Saturday inside the UNI-Dome at 4 p.m. The 10th-ranked Panthers dropped a 46-14 decision at top-ranked North Dakota State Saturday in Fargo, North Dakota.