VERMILLION, S.D.—Austin Simmons and Kai Henry combined to run for 239 yards and four scores and South Dakota's defense shut down Indiana State in a 38-0 Dakota Days win Saturday inside the DakotaDome.
It was the fourth straight homecoming win for the Coyotes (2-3, 1-0 MVFC), who have won their Valley opener for the third consecutive season. South Dakota has won 15 of its last 19 Dakota Days games and improved to 65-33-5 all-time on homecoming.
Simmons ran nine times for a career-high 138 yards with touchdown runs of 4, 37 and 44 yards. He also completed 15 of 25 passes for 210 yards and a score. Henry chipped in with 14 carries for 101 yards. Included in his tally was a nifty 42-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that extended USD's lead to 14-0.
In another phase, it was South Dakota's defense, led by a senior-laden front line, that limited Indiana State's ground game to 40 yards on 33 carries. The Sycamores averaged 216 yards rushing in their four non-conference games – good for 20th best in the nation. But playing without their two leading rushers in quarterback Ryan Boyle and running back Peterson Kerlegrand proved too much to overcome. Tits McCoy ran 13 times for a team-high 23 yards for Indiana State (2-3, 0-1).
"Well, Happy D-Days," said USD Head Coach Bob Nielson, who is 4-0 on the holiday. "That's a good win. I'm really proud of our guys. They played well in all three phases of the game today, which is something that we've been stressing to try to put a full-game performance together.
"I thought our special teams were really good. Defensively, we took a team that wants to run the football and did not allow them to run the football. We made them one dimensional. And offensively, we had really good balance."
South Dakota scored on its opening possession and on three of its first four possessions. Henry ran five times for 71 yards in the first quarter to set the tone. Simmons took a quarterback draw 37 yards on the third play of the second quarter to make it 21-0 and Indiana State never recovered.
The Sycamores reached Coyote territory with a 56-yard pass from Gunnar See to Dante Hendrix on their next possession, but Darrin Greenfield forced a fumble on the next play that was scooped up by Coyote safety Mike Johnson. A third-down sack by DeValon Whitcomb stopped another Indiana State drive in USD territory in the middle of the second quarter. Johnson intercepted See just before halftime and USD took a 24-0 lead into the break.
Five different Coyotes had a sack two weeks ago against Northern Colorado. Four different Coyotes had a sack in this one. Greenfield earned a sack for the fourth straight week and had three tackles-for-loss. He surpassed Scott Larson for second place on the Coyotes' all-time TFL list with 48.5. Only Bill Gassen, with 50.5 tackles-for-loss, has more.
South Dakota scored on back-to-back drives in the third quarter to put it away. Simmons threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Drew Greenhaw that made it 31-0 with 2:49 to go in the third. A three-and-out, a 10-yard run by Henry and a 44-yard dart up the middle by Simmons made it 38-0 with 14 ticks left in the third.
See, a redshirt sophomore, made his Indiana State debut after playing two seasons at Fort Scott Community College. He completed 23 of 38 passes for 239 yards. He also had the Sycamores' longest run of the game – nine yards on a scramble when he was flushed out of the pocket.
Caleb Vander Esch had five catches for a game-high 87 yards for South Dakota. It was the third straight game he has led USD in receiving. Greenhaw had four grabs for a career-best 63 yards and his first collegiate touchdown. Randy Baker set up a score with an over-the-shoulder grab for 39 yards on the first play of the second quarter, and had one other catch for seven yards.
USD middle linebacker Jack Cochrane ran down ball carriers on all sides of the field and had a game-high 11 tackles. Kameron Cline led the Coyotes' defensive line with eight stops including two for loss. He also picked up his 100th career tackle. Greenfield had seven tackles.
South Dakota resumes play next week with a 2 p.m. kick against Missouri State (1-3, 1-0) in Springfield, Missouri. The Bears topped Western Illinois 37-31 in triple overtime Saturday in Macomb, Illinois.