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Coyotes upset No. 11 UNI on Dakota Days

October 9, 2016 GMT

VERMILLION, S.D. | This time, the big plays went in South Dakota’s direction.

Prone to crucial mistakes in their first four games, the Coyotes put together a much cleaner performance and surprised No. 11 Northern Iowa 28-25 in front of a packed house of 10,221 at the DakotaDome Saturday.

And, yes, it was big plays on both sides of the football that rewarded USD with its first Missouri Valley Football Conference victory under Coach Bob Nielson. The Dakota Days win was the second in as many home games for the Coyotes, now 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MVFC.

Chris Streveler passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and the USD defense made a couple of game-saving stands in the fourth quarter.

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“That’s a great win for our program to do it at home in front of a really good crowd and to play a really good football team and win the way that we did,” Nielson said. “We pretty much had the lead throughout the whole game and a few weeks ago we didn’t do a real good job of finishing the game. I thought our guys played with great confidence through the second half and we did something today we can continue to build on.”

The Coyotes built a 28-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but everyone in the place was holding their breath late in the game until UNI missed what would have been a game-tying 34-yard field goal.

Even then, USD went three-and-out following the missed field goal and had to hold off UNI’s high-powered offense one more time. The final offensive play for the Panthers, however, was Colin Mertlik’s second sack with 1:15 remaining.

“As a defense before we took the field we knew we had two minutes that we were either going to win or lose the game,” Mertlik said. “We wanted to get a stop as quick as we could. I think we got set up in good positions by the coaches for all of us to do our job and stop everything we could. We did it and got the win.”

Streveler rushed for 128 yards on 12 carries and Trevor Bouma tacked on 72 yards on 15 totes. Both of Streveler’s touchdown passes were to Tacarci Carpenter, who had three catches for 109 yards.

UNI (2-3, 1-1) ran nearly twice as many plays (78-49) as the Coyotes and had 13 more first downs, but USD’s big plays were the difference.

Streveler broke loose for a 69-yard yard touchdown run on the third play of the game and threw a 75-yard bomb to Carpenter. His 66-yarder to Alonge Brooks set up another score.

“Explosive plays is the difference in this football game,” UNI Coach Mark Farley said. “We just flat out got beat on all of them. We applied pressure and they beat us deep. We can’t give away three explosive plays and expect to win.”

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UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey passed for 149 yards and rushed for 95. Each team scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, then it turned into a more defensive contest the rest of the way.

Bailey engineered an eight-play, 55-yard drive, ending it with a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-all with just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter.

Less than three minutes later, Streveler found Brooks deep downfield and on the next play Bouma scooted 10 yards for a touchdown. UNI scored the next 10 points, drawing even on a 17-yard pass from Bailey to former Sioux City Bishop Heelan prep standout Michael Malloy and taking the lead on a 29-yard field goal by Austin Errthum with 7:58 remaining in the first half.

Malloy, a senior, carried five times for 26 yards and had two receptions for 26 yards.

Streveler’s 75-yard pass to Carpenter, who was running neck and neck with a defensive back but made the catch and sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone, wound up giving the Coyotes the lead for good, although there were some tense moments to come.

Streveler took a vicious hit – bordering on helmet-to-helmet – in the second half but gathered himself after his head hit the field hard.

“I have a hard head,” joked the talented USD quarterback. “You just have to get up, I really don’t know. You just walk it off, shake it off, unless you’re really hurt you don’t want to come out of the game especially in a situation like that.

“You want to fight with your teammates. They were all coming up to me saying ‘we got you, we got you’ we’re going to win this game and that just gives me confidence in myself and makes everyone believe in each other.”

South Dakota is back on the road next week, playing at Indiana State.

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