Despite playoff loss, a new standard has been set for Coyote football

Sports

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The University of South Dakota’s football season came to an end on Saturday as the Coyotes fell to Southern Illinois 22-10 in the FCS playoffs opening round. That loss marked the end of a great bounce back season for the Coyotes, and with most of the team returning next year it has the program trending in the right direction.

Following their season-ending loss on Saturday, Head Coach Bob Nielson’s message to his team was simple.

“You know there’s only one team that doesn’t lose its last game when you make the national playoffs. That doesn’t take away from what we did to get here and the understanding that those guys have set a standard that this is where we want to be every year,” Head Coach Bob Nielson said.

After going 1-3 in a shortened spring season, USD bounced back to win 7 games, and hosted the program’s first ever FCS playoff game.

“We had a group that bowled their neck and said hey, we don’t care if they pick us seventh or eighth or whatever we were picked in the preseason poll. We think we got a chance to compete for a national championship and they did,” Nielson said.

It marked USD’s second ever Division 1 playoff appearance, a credit to the team’s seniors.

“That senior group, I take the COVID year throw it out. They were in two playoffs in four years. There’s a lot of FCS programs in the country that would take that in a heartbeat,” Nielson said.

“This place has just meant so much to me in my development as an athlete and as a person. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” Senior Linebacker Jack Cochrane said.

The Coyotes return most of their roster next year. They’ll look to build upon the foundation this year’s seniors laid down for them.

“I can’t thank the seniors enough. They showed us what a winning culture is like. They’ve been grinding it out for five or six years. They really turned this program around,” Quarterback Carson Camp said.

Five Coyotes were voted to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first and second teams with senior linebacker Jack Cochrane and junior long snapper Dalton Godfrey earning first team honors. Five others were named honorable mentions.

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