While South Dakota earned its 15-point halftime lead in its 50-48 loss over the Cal Poly football team Saturday, the Mustangs did plenty to sabotage themselves.
By halftime, Cal Poly had committed five penalties for 40 penalty yards, most of which either helped to end a Mustangs drive or extend one of the Coyotes.
South Dakota needed little help from Cal Poly to put up 29 first-half points.
Its offense put up 307 yards on its own, but a key third-down offside penalty against defensive tackle Kevin Hess helped the Coyotes drive for its final touchdown of the second-quarter with just two seconds left on the clock.
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It was the second offside penalty by a Cal Poly interior defensive lineman.
The Mustangs also had a similar flag thrown on Erich Klemme on a field-goal drive that gave South Dakota a 22-14 lead.
Trailing 12-7 and hoping to retake the lead earlier in the game, Cal Poly was flagged for a false start and a delay of game and ended up punting without gaining a first down.
Johnson works to end scoring shortage
Cal Poly receiver Dominique Johnson caught his second touchdown pass of the season — a 20-yard fade from Tony Smith in the left corner of the end zone that gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead to open the game.
It was only Johnson’s second touchdown of the season, despite the junior transfer from UCLA coming into the game with more than triple the yardage of Cal Poly’s next leading receiver.
Johnson entered the game with 29 catches for 461 yards, by far the team high even though he missed most of two games with a partial shoulder dislocation.
The next closest Mustang was junior Eric Gardley, who had eight catches for 128 yards. Running back David Mahr was second in receptions with 12.
Jon Hall and Mike Anderson were tied for the team high with four touchdown catches.
Shepard starts out on fire
South Dakota quarterback Noah Shepard had a big game against Cal Poly last season when he passed for 211 yards, rushed for another 92 and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
But the senior had an otherworldly start for the Coyotes on Saturday.
Shepard connected on 9 of his first 10 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, a stretch that included only the first quarter and South Dakota’s first play from scrimmage in the second quarter.
Shepard also scored one a 1-yard touchdown run, and early in the second quarter, the Coyotes had a 19-7 lead.
Say goodbye to seniors
Prior to the game, Cal Poly held its annual senior day ceremony and recognized 10 seniors and their parents on the field.
This year, the Mustangs will lose two defenders who played every game during their four-year careers: defensive end Ryan Shotwell and safety David Fullerton.
Fullerton ranked sixth on the team coming into the game with 35 tackles. Shotwell entered sharing the team lead with four sacks. The player he shared it with was fellow senior Carlton Gillespie, a two-year starter.
The other seniors are Hall, running backs Jono Grayson and Jaymes Thierry, punter Harlan Prather, cornerbacks Xavier Gardner and Ryan Chambers and linebacker Blaze Silberman.
Mike Montero, a player who has played on both sides of the ball but has been out the past two seasons with knee injuries, rounded out the senior class.