Ricky Davis led 15th-ranked Youngstown State with 281 yards passing and 66 yards rushing, and the Penguins got a late pick-six off a deflected pass to get past South Dakota 30-20 Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium in the MVFC opener for both teams.
Youngstown State (3-1, 1-0 MVFC) won its eighth consecutive Valley opener while the Coyotes (1-3, 0-1) are winless in Valley openers in five tries. YSU has won all five meetings with USD since the series began in 2012.
Youngstown State out-gained South Dakota 412-149 thru three quarters, but the Coyote defense stopped two fourth downs, created two turnovers, and forced the Penguins to settle for three field goals and just a 20-6 lead.
South Dakota safety Andrew Gray intercepted Davis with 8:31 remaining and the Coyotes marched 64 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 1-yard touchdown toss from Chris Streveler to Riley Donovan that made it 23-13 with 5:24 to go.
The Coyote defense forced a punt and USD took over from its own 20 with 2:46 left. Streveler’s first pass of the drive was tipped at the line by end Avery Moss, and Jalyn Powell intercepted and returned it 21 yards for the game-clinching score.
USD tacked on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Streveler to Alonge Brooks with 1:34 left for the final score. Brooks also hauled in a 33-yard pass that set up the Coyotes’ first touchdown earlier in the quarter. He finished with two catches for 56 yards.
Eric Thompson recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Penguins to end the game. The final offensive numbers read 450 yards for YSU and 254 yards for USD. The Penguins committed four turnovers, including three inside their own 40, but the Coyote offense punched it in just once and settled for a Miles Bergner field goal on another.
Youngstown State scored on its first three possessions and led 17-3 less than a minute into the second quarter. South Dakota’s opening possession reached the YSU 33, but Moss striped Streveler on a sack, recovered the fumble and rumbled to the USD 39. A 1-yard run by Martin Ruiz six plays later and Youngstown State had the lead.
If there was a silver lining for USD, it was that Youngstown State came into the game averaging 294 yards rushing – fourth-best in the nation – and needed 56 carries to get to 169 Saturday (3.0 ypc). Davis ran 21 times to get 66 yards. Ruiz carried 19 times for 65 yards and two scores. Jody Webb had 11 carries for 35.
But it was Davis’ passing that was the difference. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 18 yards a completion. He connected with eight different receivers including Damoun Patterson, who had two catches for 86 yards.
Streveler was 10 of 27 for 141 yards, two scores and two interceptions for South Dakota. He entered play as the nation’s eighth-leading rusher at 115 per game, but was held to a season-low 14 yards on 14 carries. Included in those numbers are four sacks for 21 yards.
Gray earned his first collegiate start at safety and led USD with a career-high nine tackles, all solo, to go with his first interception. Jacob Warner got his fifth collegiate interception and first of this season. Kameron Cline had six tackles including one of three USD sacks.
The Coyotes return to Vermillion and will host UNI in its annual Dakota Days game. Kickoff from the DakotaDome will be 2 p.m.