UND football: USD storms past Sioux

VERMILLION, S.D. -- It was an absolutely beautiful day in southeast South Dakota on Saturday. The sky was clear and temperature was in the low 60s. It was a picturesque fall day.

UND's Josh Murray (27) pulls out of USD's Adam Broder's grip as Alphonso Valdez (12) comes to his aid during a game at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. Photo special to the Herald by Devin Wagner/Argus Leader.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- It was an absolutely beautiful day in southeast South Dakota on Saturday. The sky was clear and temperature was in the low 60s. It was a picturesque fall day.

But there was a South Dakota storm brewing inside the DakotaDome. And UND didn't weather it, especially in the first half.

South Dakota's first-half surge -- led by the passing and running of quarterback Dante Warren -- carried the Coyotes to a 27-17 win against UND in the Great West Conference opener for both teams. The win also snapped UND's four-game win streak against the Coyotes, who hope a page has been turned in their rivalry with the Sioux.

"It's about time," said South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort.

Coming into the game, UND had won 18 of its last 20 games against South Dakota. Exiting the game, the Sioux know they'll have their hands full again next season with Warren, who threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. His scrambling ability also produced 44 yards. And he was a third-down architect, helping the Coyotes convert six of eight third-down plays in the decisive first half.


Talk of UND's stranglehold on South Dakota can now take a break.

"Sometimes, too much is made of that," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "Maybe our kids were listening too much to it. We just didn't play disciplined football today."

The game got away from UND in the second quarter. And that's what UND did not want. The Sioux were hoping to weather South Dakota's expected early surge. They didn't.

"It's a frustrating loss," Mussman said. "You can take losing if you get beat and you've played as good as you can play. We didn't give them our best game. We couldn't get down in the first half like we did on stuff that you knew that was coming your way."

UND led 3-0 on Zeb Miller's 44-yard field goal. And the Sioux were in good shape even after Warren hit Will Powell on a 3-yard scoring pass late in the first quarter.

On UND's next possession, however, Jake Landry's pass intended for Greg Hardin in the end zone was picked off by Chris Frierson. Two possessions later, Warren hit Jeremy Blount for a 65-yard scoring pass on a simple fly route. That energized the DakotaDome homecoming crowd of 9,956.

Miller missed a 45-yard field goal attempt on UND's next possession.

Then came the back-breaking drive. South Dakota went 73 yards in 10 plays, finishing it on Warren's 20-yard TD pass to Powell with 6 seconds left in the first half. A 21-3 halftime lead was too much for the Sioux to overcome.


Powell's TD was disputed by Mussman, who thought the South Dakota receiver did not have one foot in-bounds when he caught the ball.

"From where I was standing, I didn't think he was in," Mussman said. "But that's not what cost us the game."

Meierkort said the play was close.

"Our guy (Powell) said he was in," Meierkort said. "I couldn't tell. I saw the replay. But it was a horse apiece."

That's because Meierkort thought Coyote defensive back Marquis Butler picked off a Landry pass in the South Dakota end zone earlier in the second quarter. But Butler was ruled out of bounds.

"In this day and age, it all comes out in the wash," Meierkort said. "But the big thing for us was that we didn't give up any big plays."

UND's longest play from scrimmage was a 26-yard rush from Josh Murray, who did everything for the Sioux and took a pounding in the process.

South Dakota, which put up 41 points in its win at Minnesota, finished with 400 yards of offense to UND's 288. But UND had three turnovers and a botched punt attempt. South Dakota committed no turnovers.


"It boils down to mistakes," Sioux linebacker Ryan Kasowski said. "And one of their drives was about seven minutes long. That started to wear on us. That's something we can't allow if we're going to beat teams like this."

The time of possession heavily favored South Dakota, which had a 13-minute advantage.

The Sioux simply hung around in the second half, cutting the lead to 21-10 on Landry's 11-yard scoring pass to Greg Hardin on it first third-quarter possession. Chris Anderson's 7-yard TD pass from Landry, following two Kevin Robb field goals for South Dakota, closed out the scoring with 4:31 to play.

"It came down to the fact that they made plays and we didn't make plays," UND linebacker Paul German said.

Warren made the plays, especially in the first half when he was 16-for-23 for 214 yards.

"You don't think he should be that elusive," German said of Warren. "Maybe he's got something going there."

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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