Dakota State (S.D.) kicked off their three-game football home stand Saturday afternoon in a record-breaking fashion, defeating 62-48 high-scoring affair over No. 24-ranked Saint Ambrose (Iowa) in a non-conference clash. It was the second victory for the Trojans over the NAIA's Top 25 nationally-ranked team this season, the most wins against the nationally-ranked teams in more than 20 years.
A total of 110 points were scored in the game, the most combined points scored in a single game since Oct. 23, 2010 (106 points between DSU and Jamestown, N.D.). DSU's season-high 62 points is the most points scored in a single game since Oct. 3, 2015 when DSU defeated Trinity Bible (N.D.) 60-6.
Dakota State improved to 2-1 overall record, both wins against nationally-ranked NAIA's ranked team (defeated No. 16 Dakota Wesleyan, S.D. 34-30 on Aug. 26 in Mitchell). It was the second straight victory when the Trojans hosted an NAIA Top 25 nationally-ranked team at Trojan Field (defeated No. 24 Dickinson State, N.D. 54-21 on Oct. 17, 2015). SAU, a member of the Mid-States Football Midwest conference, fell to 0-2 overall record.
DSU evened the all-time series meeting with SAU (1-1 series record), which the meeting began on Sept. 26, 2015 when the Fighting Bees rallied back for 39-35 victory over the Trojans.
Saint Ambrose was forced to punt on the first drive of the game. Despite the personal foul penalty committed by the Trojans after the punt to start their drive on their own 25-yardline, DSU used five plays – including three of the last four plays of over 10 yards in Trojans' opening drive – for the first score of the game.
Jacob Giles threw a 26-yard pass to Mitchell Galloway from DSU's 39-yard line to SAU's 35-yard line for a first-down. Robert Johnson followed up with a 9-yard line rush and a personal foul committed by the Fighting Bees. Giles threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Galloway to give Trojans the first lead of the game with 11 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Nic Behrens added the PAT kick to put Trojans up 7-0.
Dakota State made it 13-0 with 8:36 left in the first quarter, thanks to a turnover committed by SAU during the punt return. DSU's Eric Wahl forced a fumble on SAU Brad Connor and was recovered by Brock Reinhiller in the end zone for a touchdown, extending DSU's lead to 13-0. DSU could not convert their 2-point PAT attempt.
The Fighting Bees scored on the ensuing possession by using 12 plays for 75 yards in 5:03. Joey Zito rushed for a 9-yard touchdown, while Kenny Rowe's PAT kick was good as SAU trimmed DSU's lead to 13-7.
Dakota State scored for the third time in the first quarter on the following possession.
The Trojans used 8 plays for 75 yards in 2:48 when Giles connected to Austin Opdahl for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Giles found Preston Nordling for a successful 2-point PAT try, as the Trojans' lead ballooned to 21-7 with 45 seconds remaining in first.
Saint Ambrose recorded 13 plays for 75 yards in 5:11 on the next drive. Patrick Smith threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Max Brozovich with 10:34 left in the second quarter. Rowe added the PAT extra-point kick as the Fighting Bees trailed at 21-14.
The Trojans committed a turnover, allowing the Fighting Bees quickly score fumble recovery return for a touchdown. Johnson fumbled the ball on DSU's 5-yard line and was returned by SAU Luke Snynder as DSU's lead went down by one point at 21-20 with less than 10 minutes in the second quarter. Rowe's PAT kick was blocked by Darion Office.
Dakota State used four 10-plus first-down plays (14-yard pass from Giles to Alex Babcock, 14-yard rush by Johnson, 24-yard pass from Giles to Opdahl and 15-yard pass from Giles to Galloway) in their next scoring drive, increasing their lead to 27-20. Giles threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Galloway and Behrens hit the PAT kick as the Trojans maintained a 7-point lead with 7:11 remaining before intermission.
Saint Ambrose committed a turnover during their kick-off return on SAU's 35-yard line where the Trojans recovered the ball. Giles fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nordling with 6:29 left, as Dakota State extended their lead to 34-20 after Behrens' PAT extra-point kick.
The Fighting Bees answered back after the Trojans' touchdown, using 5 plays for 70 yards in 2:01. Smith threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Chase Ferger with 4:28 left in the second quarter. Rowe's PAT extra-point kick was good as the Trojans hold on to a 34-27 lead.
Dakota State held to a 34-27 halftime advantage.
The Trojans kicked off the third quarter with a 37-yard rush by Johnson from DSU's 29-yardline to SAU's 34-yard line. DSU was able to convert their scoring opportunity as Giles hit an 11-yard touchdown pass to Opdahl with 12:44 on the clock. Behrens added a PAT kick to widen DSU's lead to 41-27.
After the Fighting Bees were forced to punt on their first drive of the second half, Dakota State stormed on the field to extend their lead with another touchdown. DSU used three straight first-down plays of over 10 yards, including three consecutive passes from Giles to Opdahl. Giles recorded a 7-yard touchdown pass to Opdahl with less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Behrens converted the PAT kick as the Trojans' lead inflated to 48-27.
SAU broke their scoring drought where they recorded 7 plays for 75 yards in 2:37, trimming DSU's lead to 48-34. Smith connected to C.J Baker for a 17-yard touchdown pass while Rowe's PAT kick was good.
The Trojans continued their offensive outburst on the next drive, using 9 plays for 71 yards in 3:33. Giles threw a 27-yard pass to Opdahl from SAU's 27-yardline to SAU's 2-yardline, followed by Johnson's 2-yard rushing touchdown with 3:25 left in the third quarter. Behrens made the PAT extra-point kick as the Trojans posted the biggest lead of the game at 55-34.
Smith recorded a 6-yard touchdown pass to Connor in the early fourth quarter (10:35 on the clock) as the Fighting Bees reduced DSU's lead to 55-41 (Rowe's PAT kick was good).
Dakota State used eight plays – including six rushing plays – for their final score of the game. Giles connected to Opdahl for the fourth time in the game, a 26-yard touchdown pass with 7:07 remaining. Behrens' PAT kick was successful as the Trojans' lead went up to 62-41.
The Fighting Bees would score one more time in the game after a 37-yard pass from Smith to Chase Ferger with 4:11 left. Rowe's PAT kick was good as the Trojans held on to a 62-48 victory.
Giles finished the game by completing 32 passes in 42 attempts for a career-high 400 yards for the Trojans. He threw a new DSU school record touchdown passes in a single game with seven touchdowns, breaking the previous record of 5 touchdown passes (set by Giles at Dordt, Iowa on Sept. 3; Terry Kasperbauer versus Southwest Minnesota State in 1976 and Tom Nielsen versus Minot State, N.D. in 2003).
Giles' 32 completions is also a new DSU school record for most completions in a single game. Four players held the previous school record of 31 completions – Cole Whisenhunt at South Dakota Mines on Oct. 26, 2013; Brandon Large twice at Concordia (Neb.) on Oct. 1, 2011 and at Valley City State (N.D.) on Sept. 17, 2011 and Daryl Fletcher in 1970.
Opdahl tied his season-high 177 receiving yards with 15 receptions and caught four touchdown passes for Dakota State. His 15 receptions set a new school record for most catches in a single game, breaking former NAIA All-American wide receiver Tommy Hofer with 14 receptions versus the University of Mary (N.D.) in 2005.
Galloway added season-highs 10 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans. Nordling had five receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. Babcock recorded two catches for 29 yards.
Johnson rushed for over 100-plus yards for the third straight time for the Trojans. He rushed 25 times for 118 yards and registered a touchdown in the game.
Preston Madden led the Trojans' defense with 11 tackles. Alvin Reels, Jr. added nine tackles. Thomas Romack and Office each tallied eight tackles. Mahcia Davis, Cole Potter and Curt Boeke each had seven tackles.