North Greenville University celebrated Military Appreciation Day as part of its final home game Saturday afternoon, and the only team that could have stopped the University of South Dakota Saturday afternoon in Tigerville was the U.S. Military.
The Division I FCS Coyotes piled up 521 total yards and quarterback Noah Shepard passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in the first half as they downed NGU 63-0.
South Dakota (4-4), showing no signs of fatigue after a 1,500-mile bus ride, scored often and fast against the overmatched North Greenville (2-8) defense. Shepard threw for three first half touchdowns and ran in another from one yard out as USD opened an insurmountable 42-0 halftime lead. The Coyotes bottled up the normally effective Crusader running game, as they limited them to only 33 yards. Trailing 28-0 in the second quarter, NGU committed two glaring turnovers; a fumble and an interception that was returned for a score, on consecutive drives that helped the Coyotes blow the game open.
USD quarterbacks Shepard and Dante Warren combined for 15-19 for 209 yards passing, and USD gained 312 on the ground. Chris Ganious had nine carries for 92 yards. NGU struggled to its lowest offensive production of the year, gaining 101 total yards. NGU’s Richard Harb (7-10) and C.T. Morton (5-11) could manage only a 12-21 game for a season low 68 yards passing. Freshman running back Terrance Covin (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) had 51 yards for his best game as a Crusader.
NGU punter Ronnie Partridge was kept busy during the game as he punted a season high 10 times for 358 yards (35.8 average). He also managed a school record 62 yarder in the fourth quarter.
“Their offensive line dominated our defense the entire game,” NGU head coach Mike Taylor said. “They were bigger and stronger than us and they just handled us. That was one of the best teams we’ve played this year. We got beat physically and technically in the game, but we’ve just got to put it behind us and get ready for our last game next week. Our players will put this one behind them; if they are a true football players, they’ll be ready to go.”
Taylor went on to explain how USD ended up on the Crusader schedule. “Since we’re not in a conference yet, we had four teams back out on us late in the summer,” he noted. “South Dakota needed another game and we had to fill those four dates. We may have over scheduled a little, but they were a great team.”
He also went on to praise his team for their effort. “We have a very unusual team,” he said. “We have played a lot of freshmen all season, and it’s been even more in the last few weeks because we’ve had several key seniors out with injuries. We have a small group of seniors and they have been real good about keeping our young guys going.”
“We knew going in that South Dakota was going to be a tough match up for us,” senior linebacker Tyrell Davis said. “Because of injuries, I ended up playing cornerback today, so I played as hard as I could, but we could never seem to get any momentum going.” Davis finished with a team high nine tackles. Asked about playing his last home game, Davis noted, “I’ve enjoyed playing here at NGU, and I will miss football, but God has a plan for me. He’ll put me where I need to be.
North Greenville also honored its senior football class of 2008, senior cheerleader and its senior band members in pre-game ceremonies. The 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky also parachuted in the game ball on a sparkling autumn afternoon amid the fall foliage surrounding the NGU campus.
NGU will finish its 2008 schedule next Saturday, Nov. 8 playing at UNC-Pembroke. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.