NORMAL, Ill.—Illinois State freshman quarterback Blake Winkler passed for 181 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Redbirds to a 28-14 win against South Dakota Saturday at Hancock Stadium. Illinois State (4-4, 3-2 MVFC) improved to 4-0 at home this season while the Coyotes (4-4, 3-2) lost for the first time in four games.
All three Winkler touchdown tosses came in the first half and all three were longer than 30 yards. Winkler netted 142 yards on six first-half completions against the nation's top pass defense. He finished with nine completions on 20 attempts.
ISU sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich added 108 yards rushing on 33 carries. It was the fourth consecutive 100-yard effort for Coprich.
South Dakota out-gained the Redbirds 372-286, but faced poor field position for much of the day. Nine of the Coyotes first 10 drives began from inside their own 26 and only one of 17 started in ISU territory. Conversely, Illinois State started in Coyote territory on three of its four touchdown drives. The other started on its own 42.
USD punter Miles Bergner averaged 35 yards on a season-high 10 punts. He missed a 43-yard field goal on the Coyotes' first drive of the game which followed an interception by USD cornerback Dyllon Knox.
South Dakota forced three turnovers, but couldn't turn any into points. USD quarterback Kevin Earl was 22 of 47 for 256 yards. He threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Terry early in the fourth quarter for the final score of the game.
Coyote running back Jordan Roberts carried 21 times for a season-high 85 yards. He broke a 22-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7. Freshman Riley Donovan had seven receptions for 109 yards for his second consecutive 100-yard receiving effort.
Winkler threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Phil Dudley at the beginning of the second quarter that broke the 7-7 tie. Winkler's 35-yard toss to Scott Kuehn made it 21-7 four minutes later. Both plays came on 3rd-and-long. The Redbirds were 7 of 17 on third down and became the first team this season to convert more than four times against the Coyotes.
Coprich made it 28-7 with a 27-yard touchdown run with 8:42 left in the third quarter, one play following a USD turnover. Mike Banks' interception of Earl in the end zone on 2nd-and-goal from the 3 with 1:14 remaining ended the game.
South Dakota sacked Winkler three times and had 11 tackles for loss. Coyote linebacker Auston Johnson had a team-high seven tackles and one of the three sacks.