VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota's defense pitched a shutout for 56 minutes and its offense ran out the clock late as the Coyotes beat UC Davis 10-7 Saturday at the DakotaDome in the season opener for both teams. USD has won 11 consecutive home openers dating back to 2003.
Freshman kicker Miles Bergner capped a six-minute drive with a 39-yard field goal that gave South Dakota a 10-0 lead with 6:38 to go. The Aggies countered with a nine-play drive capped by a 1-yard leap into the end zone by Gabe Manzanares with 3:41 left. UC Davis kicked off and never got it back as the Coyotes gained 52 yards on five consecutive runs to seal the win.
Sophomore linebacker Keyen Lage and senior cornerback Dyllon Knox led a USD defense that limited the Aggies to one scoring drive and 267 yards of offense. Lage had eight solo tackles, one of two USD sacks and broke up a pass early in the fourth quarter that prevented a big gain and led to a punt. Knox recovered a fumble early in the first quarter and blocked a 20-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
"Our defense won the game for us," said USD junior quarterback Josh Vander Maten. "These were the games we lost last year. It's encouraging to see us move the ball on that last drive and not even make our defense have to come back on the field, especially after the effort they put in."
Vander Maten scored on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter for the only score of the first half. Terrance Terry's 21-yard sweep down to the 3 preceded the score. Vander Maten completed 9 of 17 passes for 91 yards. His quarterback sneak on 2nd-and-1 with 1:55 left and with no UC Davis timeouts remaining ended the game.
USD redshirt freshmen running backs Trevor Bouma and Jordan Roberts combined for 161 yards rushing. Bouma carried 17 times for 95 yards. Roberts had 10 carries for 66 yards, including a 25-yard burst up the middle on the final drive of the game. Bouma had a 12-yard run and a 9-yard run on the final drive. He also caught four passes including two that moved that chains.
"I was so anxious," said Bouma. "It's been too long – over two years, and the hard work has really paid off. Our offensive line played great and our defense gave us a chance to win the game."
Manzanares had 91 yards on 18 carries for the Aggies. Starting quarterback Randy Wright was 7 of 14 for 60 yards. Jimmy Laughrea, who played the final three series of the first half, was 6 of 10 for 50 yards. Two of those drives ended with missed field goals.
Manzanares lost a fumble on the Aggies' third play from scrimmage and, following a substitution penalty, the Coyotes began 1st-and-5 from the UC Davis 13. The Coyotes netted one yard on three plays and Bergner missed a 30-yard field goal.
Rather than dwell on the miss, Bergner continued to put the Aggies' offense in a tough spot. All five of his punts were placed inside the 25-yard line. Two were inside the 12. He averaged 40 yards per punt, and then kicked what turned out to be the game winner.
"I've had my days, but I couldn't be happier for the kids and our coaching staff," said USD head coach Joe Glenn. "One game doesn't make a season, but we needed to have the scoreboard show the effort and the love they've given and the way they've hung in there and kept working and never once got down. They just kept fighting."
The Coyotes take on the Kansas Jayhawks at 6 p.m. next Saturday (Sept. 7) in Lawrence, Kan.