VERMILLION, S.D. (USD) —South Dakota’s Will Leyland drilled a 41-yard field as time expired to give the Coyotes a 34-31 win against Youngstown State in a battle of top-25 teams Saturday inside the DakotaDome.
No. 10/17 South Dakota (5-1, 3-0 MVFC) stayed unbeaten against FCS opponents and knocked off its second ranked team in three weeks. No. 23/20 Youngstown State (3-3, 1-2) had reentered the rankings following a 31-3 win of then-No. 5 Southern Illinois last week, but fell to 1-2 in conference play.
South Dakota led 17-3 at halftime and 31-10 midway through the third quarter. Youngstown State rallied to tie the game on a Bryce Oliver touchdown catch with 5:48 to play. Both offenses punted back to each other before South Dakota set up for the winning kick.
Both quarterbacks were terrific. Aidan Bouman completed 24-of-29 passes for a career-high 369 yards and three touchdowns for South Dakota. Mitch Davidson was 15-of-26 for 267 yards and three scores for the Penguins.
Bouman and the Coyotes began its winning drive on its own 39 with 19 seconds left. A pass interference penalty moved it to Penguin territory, and Bouman hit Makai Lovett on a 22-yard out with six seconds left. South Dakota hustled to the line and spiked it with three seconds left to set up Leyland’s kick.
It was a career-long make for Leyland who hit two 41-yarders during the game and improved to 6-for-6 on field goals this season. He hasn’t missed a kick of any kind all year. The home team has won the last seven matchups in this series.
“We’ve been working for this for a while,” said Leyland. “It’s been a crazy season so far and we kept our foot on the gas. When Aidan made that throw, Makai caught it, I just knew it was go time. Even if they ice it, we’re just going to go ahead and knock it through and that’s what we did.”
South Dakota controlled the first half and scored on the opening possession of the second half to make it 24-3. Then a track meet broke out.
In less than two minutes, Davidson threw a 65-yard bomb to Joey Farthing for a score, Carter Bell took a slant pass from Bouman 56 yards for a score, and Davidson hit Max Tomczak for a 66-yard strike. Five plays, three touchdowns and Youngstown State trailed 31-17.
South Dakota went 3-and-out on its next two possessions and a fumble on the first play of a third series was just the ticket for Youngstown State. A five-play, 42-yard drive capped by a Dra Rushton 1-yard dive closed the gap to 31-24 with 12:42 to go, and Davidson marched the Penguins 66 yards for the tying strike. He heaved a prayer to Tomczak on 4th-and-3 from the USD 35 to keep the drive alive and found Oliver in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal.
South Dakota punted on 4th-and-2 from the YSU 39 with 2:35 left. A face mask penalty and a false start halted YSU’s final drive and the Coyotes burned their final two timeouts to give the ball back to Bouman.
“What a game, what a finish,” said USD head coach Bob Nielson. “It brought back some memories from 2017 when we had a ranked Youngstown State team in here and we kicked a field goal as time expired in the same end of the stadium. This was a completely different game though.
“If there’s one thing to be disappointed about it’s the fact that we gave up two big plays, which is atypical of us defensively and let that momentum swing there in the second half. Give them credit, they never gave up. They’re a good football team. At the end, we showed some character. Crazy football game, but couldn’t be more happy and proud.”
Bell had a 36-yard touchdown catch to go with his 56-yarder. He caught five passes for a season-high 131 yards and two scores. It was his second 100-yard effort in three games. Tight end J.J. Galbreath had six catches for a career-high 101 yards and a score. It marked the first time since 2019 that USD had two pass catchers go for more than 100 yards.
Youngstown State stars Oliver and Tyshon King were relatively quiet. Oliver had three catches for 16 yards. King, one of the top rushers in the Valley coming in, ran 10 times for 39. Instead Rushton totaled 116 yards on the ground and Tomczak totaled 134 yards on six receptions.
Both teams turned it over twice, though two fumbles occurred on the same play and canceled each other out. South Dakota won the possession game against a team that has horded the ball all season and managed 106 yards on the ground against the nation’s top run defense. The offensive line kept Bouman relatively clean. The Penguins had no sacks and just one tackle-for-loss. It was Micah Roane who had two sacks for South Dakota.
South Dakota and South Dakota State are the lone unbeaten teams in Valley play through three weeks and the two square off in Vermillion on Oct. 28. But first things first. South Dakota travels to Indiana State next Saturday for a noon (CT) kick at Memorial Stadium.