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    USD FB: South Dakota 35, Missouri State 28

    VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota racked up 513 yards of offense while its defense forced three turnovers and put up a goal-line stand in the final minutes of a 35-28 win against 24th-ranked Missouri State in the annual Dakota Days football game inside the DakotaDome. 

    The win moves the Coyotes (3-2) to 2-0 in the Valley. They and North Dakota State are the lone unbeaten teams in the conference thru two weeks. The Bears (3-2) dropped to 1-1.

    South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons and Missouri State’s Peyton Huslig combined for 756 yards of total offense. Simmons was 28 of 38 passing for 337 yards including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Levi Falck on 3rd-and-long with 13 minutes remaining that put the Coyotes in front 33-28. Simmons’ two-point conversion to an unattended Dakarai Allen made it a seven-point game. 

    Huslig completed 21 of 42 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. He added 91 yards and two scores rushing. Huslig entered the game as the leading rushing quarterback in the Valley at 56 yards a contest.

    After jockeying back and forth the entire game, the contest came down to a pair of drives at the end. Missouri State had 3rd-and-goal from the 1 with three minutes to go. Donovan Daniels ran into a wall at the goal line on third down, and Huslig was forced to pitch early on an option play on fourth down. USD linebacker Alex Coker ran down Daniels carrying out the option behind the line of scrimmage. 

    But it wasn’t over. Missouri State forced a Coyote punt and started from its own 36 with 1:13 left and no timeouts. A pass interference penalty moved the ball into USD territory and Huslig later had it 1st-and-10 from the 37 with 37 seconds left. Four consecutive incomplete passes, three of them broken up by the Coyotes, including safety Andrew Gray’s hit on receiver Tyler Currie on fourth down, ended it. 

    Gray was fantastic for the second consecutive week. Not only did he tie twin brother Alex for tops in tackles with 10, but he forced two fumbles that USD recovered and also had an interception. The Coyote offense turned the turnovers into 10 points. 

    A USD ground game looking for a hero got one in sophomore Ben Klett, who earned his first collegiate start and came through with a career-high 96 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He scored from 3, 19, and 2 yards out, and rumbled over would-be tacklers for much of the game. Simmons added 45 yards on the ground and Brandon Thull netted 37 yards on nine carries in his collegiate debut. The Coyotes finished with a season-best 176 yards rushing and have averaged 174 in two home games. 

    Missouri State’s top rusher entering the contest, Jason Randall, left for the locker room early in the first half and tried to return, but couldn’t go. He ran just four times for six yards. The Bears still surpassed their season average thanks to Huslig and Daniels, who combined for 152. 

    The Coyotes failed to record a sack for the second week in a row, but got pressure in key moments and broke up 12 passes. 

    The contest marked the 102nd Dakota Days football game. The Coyotes improved to 64-33-5 (.652) in homecoming games and have won 14 of their last 18 including three in a row. South Dakota stays home to host UNI next Saturday in a 6 p.m. kick.

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