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Cougars Remain Unbeaten With Win Over Mustangs

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – No. 25 ranked University of Sioux Falls scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away for a 41-22 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday night in Sioux Falls, S.D.

SMSU (1-4, 1-4 NSIC), which has lost three straight, scored with 10 minutes and 18 seconds left in the game to cut the USF (5-0, 5-0 NSIC) lead to 27-22, but the Cougars answered with the two touchdowns to seal the victory.

The game was the first between the two teams since Oct. 20, 1979.  This season is USF’s first as a member of the NSIC.  The Cougars won NAIA national championships in 1996, 2006, 2008 and 2009, before moving to NCAA II in 2011.

Taylor Perkins paced USF completing 18 of 31 pass attempts for 317 yards and five touchdowns and also rushed for 52 yards one eight attempts.  Jeremiah Oates caught five passes for a game-high 112 yards and two touchdowns.

SMSU quarterback Tyler Peschong completed 28 of 50 passes for 285 yards with one touchdown and was intercepted twice.  Warren Matthews rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 14 attempts to pace the Mustang ground attack.

SMSU’s Gannon Moore added 50 yards rushing on 10 carries and also scored a rushing touchdown, the 29th of his career to tie Robert Lipsey for the SMSU career record.

Abe Kos led all SMSU receivers with a career-high seven receptions for a career-high 94 yards.  Cody Codon hauled in six passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.

Both teams were able to move the ball, with USF finishing the game with 536 yards of offense, including 219 on the ground, while SMSU racked up 446 yards on offense with 161 on the ground.  SMSU finished with 25 first downs with USF ending with 24.

USF opened the game’s scoring on its second possession of the game, taking advantage of a fumble by SMSU’s Warren Matthews at the USF 41-yard line.  Three plays later Perkins connected with Oates on a 47-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead with eight minutes and 46 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

SMSU answered on its next possession, picking up two third-down-and long conversions, to move the ball to the USF 9-yard line, before settling for a 26-yard field goal by Lance Schuveiller with 3:11 left in the first quarter.

The Cougars extended the lead to 10-3 early in the second quarter behind a career-long 54-yard field goal by Braden Wieking at the 14:19 mark.

USF maintained the seven-point lead midway through the second quarter and had the ball at the SMSU 46-yard line, but USF’s Perkins fumbled with SMSU’s Donovan Woods recovering the ball at the 44-yard line.  SMSU couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and had to punt three plays later.

USF took over on its next possession at its own 26-yard line, but quickly moved the ball 74 yards on just four plays, with Perkins connecting with Carrington Hanna on a 14-yard touchdown strike to extend the lead to 17-3 with 1:50 remaining in the half.

The Cougars opened the second half with an 11-play, 70-yard drive with Wieking capping the drive with a 19-yard field goal to boost the lead to 20-3 at the 9:58 mark.

SMSU didn’t quit and came right back with a big answer, as Peschong capped an impressive 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 1-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-10 with 6:29 left in the third.

The Mustang defense then made a big play, forcing a USF fumble at the SMSU 45-yard line with Jacob Letzow recovering the ball.  Matthews quickly gave the SMSU offense great field position with a 30-yard run, before Peschong completed a perfect 19-yard scoring pass to Condon three plays later to make the score 20-16 with 4:42 on the clock, following a blocked PAT.

USF came back on its next drive and scored a big touchdown, as Perkins tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Carrington to make the score 27-16 with 13:26 left in the fourth.

But again, the SMSU offense had an answer and cut into the lead once more.  The Mustangs moved the ball 65 yards on eight plays with Gannon Moore ending the drive with a 23-yard touchdown run to trim the USF lead to 27-22 following a failed two-point try with 10:17 remaining.

The USF offense then put together one of the biggest drives of the game, including converting a third-and-8 from its own 45-yard line, to extend the lead.  Perkins concluded the drive finding a wide open Jeremiah Oates for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 34-22 lead midway through the final quarter.

Following an SMSU punt, the Cougars put the game away as Perkins fired a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Celestine to give USF a 41-22 lead with 4:45 left in the game.

Joe Stupka racked up eight solo tackles for the Mustang defense with Blake Pennock finishing with six stops.

USF finished the contest converting 7 of 12 third-down conversions, while SMSU was 8 of 17 on third downs.
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