SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) – With a shutdown defensive effort and a career-high 171 yards rushing and two TDs from sophomore Thuro Reisdorfer, the University of Sioux Falls Football Team (5-2, 5-2 NSIC) put together one of the most complete efforts during the tenure of head coach Jon Anderson in a 34-3 dominating victory over No. 23 Minnesota Duluth (5-2, 5-2 NSIC) on Saturday at Bob Young Field.
The Cougars defeated NSIC North Division leader UMD for a third straight time which includes a 2-0 mark at Bob Young Field. USF put together a 35-31 win in 2015 at Bob Young Field and then handed nationally ranked UMD a 26-7 loss in 2017. As a result, USF has a 95-to-41 edge in points during the last three matchups of the perennially conference and DII playoff contenders.
“It was a great team victory. We had all three phases that did great and dominated. I thought our defense was outstanding and were super physical all day long and they kept pressure on UMD. What can you say about the offense to get some big plays and put points on the board in the first half and run clock in the second half,” said Anderson, who is now 21-9 at USF in his third year with the program.
As noted by Anderson, USF had success in all three phases of football on Saturday. The Cougars, which ranked second in the NSIC in offense coming in (444.8), was able to put up 406 yards in total offense on 64 plays for 6.3 yards per play. Key to USF offensive coordinator Jim Chapin’s plan against UMD was to pound the ball at the UMD defensive front, which opened holes through the day for USF.
With Reisdorfer setting a career-high with 13 carries for 171 yards (13.15 average yards per carry) and two TDs (64, 48), the Cougars finished with 298 yards rushing on 46 carries for a gaudy 6.48 per tote average against a UMD squad which had ranked 35th in DII by allowing just 109.5 yards per game. But Reisdorfer broke off TD runs of 64 and 48 yards and his backfield mates Ja’Tai Jenkins and Winston Maxwell also had solid games. Jenkins totaled 75 yards on 12 carries while Maxwell added 10 carries for 44 yards. Through the air, the NSIC’s leading passer Caden Walters didn’t have to throw the ball much as he was 8-of-18 for 108 yards and a TD throw to Karnell Collier, who caught his first career TD (20 yards). Walters also had a TD run late in the second quarter.
The USF defense, coordinated by Nick Benedetto, continued to dominate with single-best defensive effort (yardage) in the DII era. USF, which ranked second in NCAA DII in total defense coming into the game (217.7 yards per game), held UMD to 133 yards in total offense on 63 plays. It is the best performance by a USF defense since the Cougars allowed just 70 total yards in a 71-0 victory over the SD School of Mines and Technology on Oct. 22, 2011. In the past three games, USF has allowed just one offensive TD and 10 total points on defense.
Of that 133 yards total, UMD rushed for just six yards on 28 carries. The Bulldogs also completed just 16-of-35 passes for 127 yards and were picked twice by USF. The Cougars added three sacks and nine tackles for loss as UMD struggled for find any offensive rhythm.
After today, USF is allowing just 205.6 yards in total offense and only 65.6 yards per game (2.1 yards per carry). Leading the way for USF was senior captain Tucker Stout who had five solo tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception, which was his second of the season. Junior safety Nate Durfee also had five solo stops and a TFL while junior linebacker Harvey (Michael) Enalls added five tackles, sack, tackle for loss and fumble recovery. Additionally, junior Dorian Fedrick had his first career interceptions.
As for how USF was able to dominate on both offense and defense, Anderson’s reply was simple and focused. “It is a mindset. Playing physical isn’t something you just do. Our guys practice that way. They prepare for games that way and on Saturdays, they come out and impose their will and take care of business,” said Anderson, whose team will now hit the road for games at Northern State on Oct. 26 and Upper Iowa on Nov. 2.
Stout agreed with Anderson’s assessment. He noted that his teammates on both sides of the ball played physical and gave100 percent all game. And as a result, it translated into a win. “Our defensive line was dominant and linebackers were awesome and defensive backs did what they are supposed to do in the back end. Plus our offense was great all day,” said Stout. “There is a lot of trust and love and it was so fun to play today and see us get a victory,” he said.
Anderson also noted his special teams had a solid game which included a strong game by punter Thomas Chapin, who averaged 39.2 yards per kick (6-235) and placed two kicks into the 20-yard line.
Scoring Breakdown –
After both defenses controlled the early part of the game, Reisdorfer came up with a big play as he scored his 11th TD of the season on a 64-yard run at 10:19 of the second quarter. The play immediately followed Fedrick’s first interception of his career at the USF 36-yard line.
UMD put up three points due to a touch by USF on a punt deep in USF territory. After the Bulldogs recovered the ball, they were unable to generate any momentum from the Cougars’ mistake and were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Dan Branger.
Then, the defenses, particularly the group in purple and gray, took over again – that is until the second quarter. A week ago, USF broke up a close game early with Minnesota Crookston by erupting for 35 points in the second quarter. Against UMD, the Cougars put up 20 points to take a commanding halftime lead. After USF’s defense pinned UMD deep, the Cougars were able to get solid field position at the UMD 48-yard line. Then, as if, déjà vu struck, Reisdorfer found a seem down the left sideline and scored on the first play of the series with a 48-yard TD run. With his second TD of the game and eighth rushing score of the season, Reisdorfer helped USF to a 14-3 advantage.
On the ensuing drive, USF pinned UMD deep in their own territory. After a 32-yard punt by Cameron Hausman of UMD was downed at the UMD 45-yard line, the Cougars struck pay-dirt again. On the second play of the series, Walters connected with Nate Johnson on a 44-yard TD pass as USF took a 20-3 lead. Johnson finished the game with two catches for 47 yards and the TD.
Another turnover forced by USF’s defense led to the final score of the half. Tucker Stout picked off Olson and returned the interception to the UMD 38-yard line. From there, Reisdorfer ran 23 yards to the six-yard line and Walters finished off the drive with a six-yard TD run and a 27-3 lead for USF with just 10 seconds left in the half.
UMD had an opportunity to change the fortunes in the third quarter but the Cougars stopped the Bulldogs at the USF four-yard line on fourth down. From there, Walters led USF down the field and to their final score of the game. With 2:33 left on the third quarter clock, Walters connected with Karnell Collier on a 20-yard TD and a 34-3 lead. On the drive, USF used up 6:19 of the clock and drove the ball 96 yards on 11 plays to ice the game and give USF a crucial home win.