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South Dakota storms to home win over Northern Arizona

Coyotes improve to 1-1 with strong showing in Vermillion

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South Dakota's Travis Theis stays on his feet en route to a touchdown run during the Coyotes' game against Northern Arizona Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

VERMILLION -- South Dakota scored on its first three possessions and rolled to a 34-7 win over Northern Arizona in its home opener on Saturday inside the DakotaDome.

Redshirt freshman running back Travis Theis scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half as part of a 27-0 first-half advantage and the Coyote defense was stout against the Lumberjacks for much of the game.

Quarterback Carson Camp hit on 15 of his 24 passes for 213 yards and he found Brett Samson from 28 yards to open the scoring. Theis rushed for 74 yards on 12 carries in the win.

“Defensively, we played really well and generated some turnovers which is something that we didn’t do a week ago," USD coach Bob Nielson said in his postgame press conference. "Offensively, in the first half, that’s the kind of offensive football team I think we can be.”

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South Dakota's Elijah Reed celebrates an interception during the Coyotes' game against Northern Arizona Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

South Dakota’s defense also accounted for the team’s lone second half touchdown as Jonathan Joanis returned an interception 51 yards for a score.

The defense, which had four sacks in the game, also had eight tackles for losses in the contest and held Northern Arizona out of the end zone on all but one drive. Jack Cochrane had eight solo stops and one assisted tackle including a tackle for loss while Brock Mogensen had one sack and one tackle for loss among his eight total stops.

“We were more consistent in our offensive execution and we were able to make some explosive plays in the first half which is something that we didn’t do last Friday night against Kansas,” said Nielson. “A great performance to build on and this is a football team that I’m confident is going to keep getting better and better.”

The Coyotes (1-1) will play at Cal Poly on Sept. 18, with kickoff set for 9 p.m. Central.

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