VERMILLION -- The Coyotes played in their first home game without fan restrictions since the DakotaDome renovation was completed, and cruised to a 34-7 victory over Northern Arizona Saturday afternoon.
“It was awesome, it was exciting,” freshman quarterback Carson Camp said of the environment in his first home start without fan restrictions. “That was a really good time. It was really fun to experience the whole Coyote nation being out there, the fans cheering us on.”
The Coyotes got off to a quick start, with freshman quarterback Carson Camp finding Brett Samson for a 28-yard touchdown. After the defense forced a Lumberjack punt, Travis Theis found paydirt, scoring from 13-yards out. The Coyotes led 17-0 after one quarter.
Theis scored a second touchdown on a one-yard plunge and USD’s lead was 24 in the second. Mason Lorber hit a field goal and the Coyotes led 27-0 at the halftime break.
“That first half, we were distributing the football,” Nielson said. “Carson did a good job. We converted third downs when we needed to convert in the first half.”
Northern Arizona got the ball to start the second half, and quarterback Jeff Widener’s pass went through the hands of his intended target and fell into Jonathan Joanis’ lap where he took it to the endzone, giving USD a 34-0 lead.
Widener was able to get his Lumberjacks on the board with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hendrix Johnson with just under five minutes remaining in the third. Neither side scored in the fourth as the Coyotes tried to run the clock out.
The Coyote passing game finished under 100 yards last week at Kansas, but Camp (213 yards) and graduate transfer Jonathan Lewis (nine yards) combined for 222 yards passing. Camp completed 15-of-24 for 213 and the touchdown to Samson.
“Going into practice this week, we just wanted to really make sure everyone was on the same page,” Camp said. “I think (last week’s passing game) was just a lack of focus on my part. Everyone did their job last week, again today, everyone did their job, including myself. We were all clicking on all cylinders.”
Travis Theis ran for 74 yards on 12 carries and scored twice for the Coyote ground attack. Shomari Lawrence tallied 32 yards on the ground and 31 receiving. Carter Bell was the leading receiver for the Coyotes, tallying 59 yards on five receptions. Wesley Eliodor tallied 45 yards on two receptions.
The Coyote defense forced three turnovers Saturday, including Joanis’ pick-six. Elijah Reed snatched an interception in the first half and Dakota Smith recovered a Northern Arizona fumble late in the fourth quarter.
“We played alright, I thought we gave up too many yards in the second,” senior linebacker Jack Cochrane said. “Overall I thought we executed pretty well, limited big play, which against that team was going to be important.”
USD’s focus will now shift to a pair of road games before returning home for an Oct. 2 game with Indiana State for Dakota Days.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Nielson said. “We’ll take a look at the film and we’ll see some things that we’ve got to do better in all three phases.”
The Coyotes are at Cal Poly Saturday at 7 p.m.