September 06, 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) Sophomore Ryan Saeger made the most of his first start, running for two touchdowns as South Dakota beat William Penn 41-16 on Saturday.

Saeger led a ground game that wore down the NAIA Statesmen in the second half as USD pulled away. Saeger ran for 79 of the Coyotes' 357 yards and completed 8 of 13 passes for 111 yards as the Coyotes (1-1) shook off the effects of a season-opening 62-13 loss to FBS power Oregon.

''A win is a win, a rose is a rose,'' South Dakota coach Joe Glenn said. ''But they made us work for it. They gave us all we wanted. The game was closer than the score says.''

Saeger started in place of Kevin Earl, who broke a thumb in the Oregon game. He scored on runs of 6 and 1 yards.

''In the first half he had a couple of drops. People just have to help the guy. We didn't throw that much, we didn't have to throw that much.''

Joining Saeger on the ground with a touchdown each was Trevor Bouma with 115 yards and Jasper Sanders with 110 yards. Kicker Miles Bergner added a pair of field goals and Jake Leohr returned a fumble 46 yards for a touchdown to close out the scoring.

The game became a battle between backup quarterbacks when William Penn's Jatavius Stewart was injured late in the first quarter. Stewart and backup Tyler Hafner never completed a pass (0-8) as the Statesmen relied exclusively on the triple option.

It worked early as William Penn led 9-7 after one quarter and was within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

The Statesmen rushed for 335 yards.

''They do a real good job of it,'' Glenn said. ''They've got some football players. Everything they did was tough and hard. We couldn't get them stopped all day long.''

South Dakota took the lead for good on Saeger's first TD early in the second quarter and put it away on Bergner's 40-yard field goal, Saeger's 1-yard run and Leohr's fumble return with 1:24 to play.

Taylor Parsons scored for the Statesmen early in the first quarter following a South Dakota fumble recovery by William Penn's Deshon Conley who took it 73 yards to the Coyotes' 10-yard line. Evan Ressler led William Penn in rushing with 87 yards on 22 carries.

''I'm proud of our defense,'' Glenn said. ''We don't have to play another triple option team.''

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