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The Press Box Sports

#10 South Dakota Holds off #16 Western Illinois 38-33

FCS Football

There were several marquee FCS Football matchups this week and this game held up to that hype. The South Dakota Coyotes edged out the Western Illinois Leathernecks 38-33 in a battle of unbeatens. Both teams featured a gunslinger in Chris Streveler for the Coyotes and Sean McGuire for the Leathernecks. Those two guys didn’t disappoint either as they passed for a combined 769 yards and 7 touchdowns. Streveler was able to use his mobility to keep drives alive and set up big plays.

Streveler got the Coyotes off to a strong start when he hit receiver Alonge Brooks on a 6-yard touchdown pass. The game stayed quiet until the second quarter when Ryan Weese nailed a 23-yard field goal, putting South Dakota up 10-0. Western Illinois answered when McGuire found Tony Harper for a 17-yard touchdown reception. A missed extra point, put the game at 10-6 for the Coyotes. South Dakota only needed 5 plays for their next score when with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Streveler to Brandt Van Roekel. Just before the end of the half, Streveler recorded his third touchdown pass the his third, different, receiver in the game with a 1-yard pass to Josh Hale. That score gave South Dakota a 24-6 lead at the half.

Western Illinois couldn’t get anything on their first drive in the third quarter. They had to punt for their third 3-and-out of the game. South Dakota once again, struck quick when Streveler scored on a 2-yard run, capping off a 12-play, 43-yard drive. Another 3-and-out by the Leathernecks let the Coyotes add to their lead when Stetson Dagel recovered a fumble at the 1-yard line and scored. Western Illinois was down 38-6, but didn’t give up.

Jaelon Acklin caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from McGuire to cut the deficit to 25 points. Both teams traded punts until Steve McShane stole the show on the next drive for the Leathernecks. McShane returned the punt for 77 yards, caught a 22-yard pass, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. South Dakota struggled to move the ball, but took a 38-20 lead into the fourth quarter. Western Illinois continued to chip away at South Dakota’s lead when Acklin scored on a 12-yard pass from McGuire.

With 2:11 left in the game, McGuire went to his favorite target once again. A 41-yard touchdown pass to Acklin put the game within grasp at 38-33 for South Dakota. All the Coyotes had to do was get first down to end the game, but the Leathernecks weren’t going down without a fight. They attempted an on-side kick and didn’t recover. It was going to come down to a defense that rejected the Coyotes since midway through the third quarter.  Streveler rushed for 5 yards and 4 yards making it 3rd and 1 from the Western Illinois 32. On third down, the Leathernecks stepped up on defense and stopped Streveler for a 1-yard loss. South Dakota coach, Bob Nielson decided to go for it on fourth down, but Western Illinois stopped Streveler again for a 1-yard loss. With a little over half a minute left in the game, the Leathernecks found themselves 34-yards away from victory and a historical comeback. Those hopes ended on the first play when McGuire tried to force a pass and it was picked off by Coyotes cornerback, Danny Rambo.

In the comeback effort, Sean McGuire was 32 for 49, 441 yards, 4 tds, and 1 costly int. Jaelon Acklin had a record-breaking day with 19 receptions, 343 yards, and 3 touchdowns. For South Dakota, Chris Streveler went 19-for-32, 328 yards, and 3 touchdown passes. He also was the game’s leading rusher with 24 carries, 89 yards, and a touchdown. Brandt Van Roekel led the Coyotes in receiving with 6 receptions, 119 yards, and a touchdown. South Dakota outgained Western Illinois on total offense with 517 total yards to 474 for the Leathernecks.

South Dakota is now 4-0 on the season and should jump a couple of spots in the rankings. Western Illinois falls to 3-1, but don’t expect them to drop significantly in the new polls. The Coyotes will have another game next week when Youngstown State comes to town. Western Illinois will try to rebound on the road next week against Northern Iowa.

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