VERMILLION, S.D. (KWSN) —Youngstown State running back Martin Ruiz ran in from three yards out with 14 seconds remaining to give the 10th-ranked Penguins a 38-34 win against South Dakota Saturday at the DakotaDome.
The Penguins (8-1) moved to 5-0 in the MVFC for the first time and have won six straight overall. The Coyotes (4-5, 3-3), who lost for the first time at home this season, have dropped their last two.
Ruiz, a true freshman, and senior quarterback Kurt Hess helped Youngstown State rack up 517 yards of offense against one of the top defenses in the country. Ruiz carried 23 times for 131 yards and two scores. Hess was 22 of 26 for 283 yards and two touchdowns. The Coyotes entered with the nation’s second-best pass defense and were fifth in total defense.
The contest featured nine lead changes including two in the final three minutes.
South Dakota redshirt freshman running back Jordan Roberts ran 11 yards up the middle for a touchdown with 2:14 to go that put the Coyotes on top 34-31. It capped a seven-play, 66-yard drive that took 1 minute, 48 seconds. Roberts had nine carries for 29 yards in the contest.
Hess and the Penguins began from their own 26 with 2:07 remaining. First down passes to Christian Bryan and Carson Sharbaugh quickly got the ball past midfield and a personal foul penalty moved the ball down to the 28. Jody Webb converted a 3rd-and-1 with 43 seconds remaining and Hess hit Bryan at the 3 on the next play. Hess killed the clock on first down, and on second down handed to Ruiz, who went nearly untouched off right guard and into the end zone.
It was Youngstown State’s fifth touchdown drive of 67 yards or more. The Penguins scored six touchdowns in all, but missed an extra point, mishandled an extra point snap and failed on two two-point conversion attempts.
USD kicker Miles Bergner hit on field goals of 39 and 40 yards. His second gave the Coyotes a 20-19 lead just before halftime.
South Dakota sophomore quarterback Kevin Earl completed 16 of 31 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. One was an 11-yard touchdown pass to former starting quarterback Josh Vander Maten midway through the third quarter that gave USD its largest lead of the game at 27-19. Earl also ran a quarterback draw for a 17-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
Vander Maten rotated in at quarterback during two second-half drives. He carried once for 10 yards. Threw a 10-yard swing pass to Roberts for 10 yards and had three catches for 29 yards. He also served as the Coyotes’ punt returner for the first time.
USD true freshman Riley Donovan became the first Coyote to record three consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts since Dan Skelly did so in 2008. He caught four passes for 103 yards Saturday, including a 55-yarder that preceded Earl’s touchdown run. Donovan has 20 catches for 390 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games.
The Coyotes sacked Hess four times and recovered three fumbles which led to two touchdowns and a field goal. Senior linebacker Tyler Starr and sophomore defensive end Drew Iddings both had strip sacks that the Coyote offense converted into 10 points. Senior safety Aaron Swift stripped Ruiz on the first play of the second quarter near midfield. USD made it 10-7 five plays later.
Hess spread passes to nine different receivers. He threw a 40-yard pass to Jody Webb for the Penguins’ first score of the game and hit Michael Wheary on 4th-and-goal from the 3 near the end of the third quarter that cut South Dakota’s lead to 27-25. Hess also scored on a 3-yard quarterback draw in the second quarter.
Linebacker Teven Williams had eight tackles to lead Youngstown State. Safety Devin Taverna had nine stops to lead South Dakota.
The Coyotes completed the first game of a three-game home stand. USD hosts nationally-ranked Montana at 1 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 9).
Courtesy: University of South Dakota