Brett Mogensen

South Dakota's Brett Mogensen stops Youngstown State running back Joe Alessi during their Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup on Saturday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

VERMILLION — DeValon Whitcomb had no idea.

Not until it was mentioned.

His defense had given up only 66 yards on the ground in Saturday’s 56-21 victory over Youngstown State at the DakotaDome.

Sixty-six.

Even Whitcomb, the senior lineman, couldn’t believe that number.

“Really, it’s just everybody doing their job,” he said.

It was a welcome sight for a defense that has endured its share of struggles this season.

South Dakota (4-6) had found it difficult to slow opposing offenses in a three-game losing streak coming into Saturday.

What the Coyotes then did, though, was shut down a Youngstown State rushing attack that had been averaging 204 yards per game.

“That was the game plan going in,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “We’re going to commit to stopping the run and force them to throw the ball.”

Because of USD’s lead in the second half (it was 35-14 at halftime), Youngstown State was forced to throw the ball more in the second half.

That, of course, wasn’t what the Penguins wanted to do.

“That’s how you beat good teams, by putting them in situations where they’re not comfortable,” Nielson said.

That rushing total by the Penguins was certainly aided by six sacks from the USD defense, but it still marked the sixth time this season the Coyotes held someone under 100 yards on the ground.

Offense Keeps Rolling

Austin Simmons couldn’t think of an area that wasn’t clicking.

The offensive line blocked.

Receivers were blocking down-field.

Running backs found openings.

Put another: USD’s offense kept rolling on Saturday, with 507 yards .

“It kind of makes it a lot easier as a quarterback when all those guys are doing such a great job out there,” Simmons said.

Moving the ball hasn’t been a problem for the Coyotes this season — they average 460 yards — but other areas have contributed to the 4-6 record.

One example Nielson pointed out was the previous game at Western Illinois: USD had five possessions in WIU territory, but came away with three points.

On Saturday, though, the Coyotes were 7-of-7 in touchdowns inside the red zone.

“The one thing we’ve talked about is, we’ve got to play bigger at bigger times, which has been a little bit of our weakness,” Nielson said.

Up Next: NDSU

Any time you can take any momentum into the week preparing for North Dakota State, you’ll take it.

And that’s the prospect for USD.

Can what the Coyotes did Saturday provide them with an extra spark heading into next Saturday’s game in Fargo?

“We focus on doing our 1/11th, but this is going to give us a lot of momentum going into practice,” Whitcomb said.

“We just need to stay level-headed.”

North Dakota State won again on Saturday to move to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the Missouri Valley.

What the Coyotes are going to need to do, according to Nielson is manufacture ways to hang on to the ball and put points on the scoreboard.

“There are enough really good things (Saturday) we can build forward,” he said.

“We didn’t make any excuses (Saturday), our guys went out and played the way we need to play.”

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