It’s the only way to describe the feeling in Fargo on Saturday. I have had the opportunity to be around the South Dakota football team for three seasons. I was on the sidelines through many losses, there for the upset of then-No.5 Northern Iowa in 2013, I’ve seen them win non-conference games at home and a fun victory on Dakota Days a couple years ago.
This was different.
This was beating the 4-time FCS champion in their own building. On their turf. South Dakota had never won in that building and not in Fargo since 1978. The crowd is hostile. The place is loud. When the quarterback changes the play he has to tell every player up close or the message won’t be heard.
No one gave South Dakota a chance to win the game. But they believed. On the car ride to the game we listened to “Kolpack and Izzo” on WDAY 970 AM. As we traveled north on I-29 and close in on Fargo they refer to South Dakota as “The Fighting Joe Glenn’s”. Did they mean anything bad by it? Probably not. But it just made you want to see a win for the red and white that much more.
In the first quarter the Bison jumped out to a 14-0 lead. If you follow USD football you couldn’t help but think, “here we go, again.” Then South Dakota scored. And they scored again. The Bison had the lead at the half but you felt like South Dakota was winning at the break. Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter. If you glanced at the stat board they were even or a slight edge one way or the other throughout the game.
In the 4th quarter the Coyotes scored. The game was tied. And excitement continued to build. USD didn’t over-think it. They attacked. And they continued to attack. The defense had a different step. The Coyotes got the ball on the last possession and they controlled it. They controlled the clock the entire way down the field. You wanted a 7, but knew a 3 would win it. USD played for the 3. They ran the ball and ran the ball and ran the ball some more. And eventually called a timeout with 3 seconds to play. Miles Bergner lines up for the kick and just before the snap….timeout. NDSU trying to “freeze the kicker”. You had the feeling that on the road, in that building, the kick had to go through or the Bison would find a way to win.
Finally, the kick. And it was good. No question at all. Dead center. And celebration ensued. USD had done the unimaginable.
Here is the cell phone video I shot after the FG. Yes, I made sure you knew it was good!
And, of course, the radio call on the Coyote Sports Network from Learfield Sports with the Voice of the Coyotes Joe Van Goor and Gary Culver.
To see USD storm the field or run over to sing “Fight South Dakota” to the USD faithful that was crammed into a small corner on the Northwest side of the building was incredible. It was still hard to believe.
Then I saw Coach Glenn’s wife, Michelle, whose tears of joy reminded me it really happened. I gave her a big hug and the smile from that woman was as big as ever.
As you look back at the game you see the Bison with no turnovers and the Coyotes with two. They shouldn’t win that game if that’s the case. Period. But they did win. They won because on that day they were the better team. They had just 28 yards of total offense in the first quarter. Then the light bulb flipped on. And it shined brightly. It wasn’t easy. It was smash mouth football that saw a couple USD players – LB Ryan Hillier and RB Trevor Bouma – exit early due to injury.
Perhaps it’s a spring board for the rest of the season and more good things are to come. Maybe (but I doubt it) it’s the last win of the year. What I do know is it was not a fluke. It was a win that was earned by a team that wasn’t given a shot. It was their time. And they deserved every second of it.
Monday morning following the win I had to chance to chat with Joe Glenn about the game on my radio show “On the John” which airs Monday through Friday from 9-11am on ESPN Radio 1570 in Yankton, SD and online around the world at kvtk.com.
Alright, Coyote Nation, it’s your chance to get behind this team and pack the Dome on Saturday for a game against Missouri State. #FeaRed