SMSU FOOTBALL: SMSU earns first win of 2019 behind four rushing touchdowns to down UIU

Photo courtesy of Upper Iowa Sports Information SMSU’s Duce Reynolds scores a touchdown during their game against Upper Iowa University on Saturday. The Mustangs defeated Upper Iowa 35-28.

FAYETTE, Iowa – Southwest Minnesota State earned its first victory of the season rushing for a season-high 158 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday night to earn a 35-28 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory over Upper Iowa at Harms-Eischeid Stadium.

SMSU, 1-3 overall, entered the game with 55 total rushing yards through three games, but the Mustangs broke free with Max Simmons rushing for a team-high 83 yards and one touchdown on seven carries while Duce Reynolds added a pair of touchdowns and 61 yards on 13 attempts.

SMSU quarterback Boyer Bouman, who missed the past two games with an injury, was back in the starting line-up tonight and completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 136 yards and one interception.

Daniel Davis finished the night with a team-high six receptions for 31 yards with teammate Luke Narveson adding three receptions for 32 yards.

SMSU closed the night recording 15 first downs and 294 yards of total offense on 52 plays. The victory was SMSU’s first on the road versus an NSIC South Division foe since Nov. 7, 2015, snapping an 11-game losing streak.

SMSU has also now defeated UIU for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings.

UIU (0-4) racked up 469 yards of offense including 236 on the ground while holding 35 to 25 minute time of possession advantage.

The SMSU defense was led by Onte Burns who racked up 12 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Mustangs an early lead. Lucas Fisher added 14 tackles while Garrett Chapman chipped in with 13 tackles. SMSU added three sacks in the game with Brad Bahlmann registering 1.5 and Adihia Bill finishing with one.

Levon Bellemy rushed for a game-high 113 yards on 29 carries to pace the Peacocks offense. Myles Herrera passed for 233 yards and four touchdowns while completing 16 of 25 passes. Alexander Stevens caught a pair of touchdowns and finished with four receptions for 92 yards.

The Mustang defense made the game’s first big play as Burns intercepted Herrera on UIU’s third play of the game and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. It was SMSU’s first defensive touchdown since Fisher had a 37-yard interception return last season versus Minnesota Crookston.

UIU rallied in a big way on its next drive moving the ball 88 yards on 18 plays and taking more than eight minutes off the clock before Herrera completed an 18-yard pass to Bralin Simon with 3:48 left in the first quarter. The Peacocks converted three fourth-down conversions during the drive.

The defense then came through again late in the opening half to help SMSU regain the lead. UIU faced fourth-and-three from the SMSU 36-yard line but Matt McDonald was stopped short of the first down marker by Adihia Bell and Job Dallien.

The SMSU offense picked up a first down and eventually moved the ball to the UIU 30-yard line, but faced fourth-and-three with one minute left in the half. Following a timeout, Bouman found Luke Narveson for a 28-yard reception down to the 2-yard line. One play later Trey Sachs sprinted across the goal line to put SMSU in front 14-7 heading into halftime following Skyler Crew’s PAT.

The game remained 14-7 until midway through the third quarter before Simmons broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run–the longest play from scrimmage for SMSU this season–to extend the lead to 21-7 at the 6:06 mark.

UIU answered just over three and a half minutes later as Herrera found Stevens open on a 38-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 21-14 late in the third quarter.

Bouman was intercepted near midfield on SMSU’s ensuing drive as UU took over at its own 44-yard line. But on the first play of the fourth quarter, Herrera fumbled and SMSU’s Gary Barnes pounced on the ball setting up the Mustang offense at the UIU 44-yard line.

SMSU picked up a pair of first downs, including a big five-yard run by Reynolds on third-and-three from the UIU 26-yard line, to keep the chains moving. Two plays later Bouman connected for a first down pass and catch to Jalen Coleman down to the UIU 10-yard line. A few moments later Reynolds scored his first collegiate touchdown from three yards out to push the SMSU margin to 28-14 with 9:21 left in the game.

UIU came right back with a huge drive just minutes later as Herrera found Stevens open for a 41-yard touchdown on third-and-three.

On the next SMSU possession, Bouman found Simmons for one of the biggest plays of the game as he lofted a screen pass for a 27-yard completion on third-and-six from the SMSU 29-yard line. The Mustangs were forced to punt later in the drive, but Bouman’s punt pinned UIU at the 15-yard line with just over four minutes left in the game.

The SMSU defense came through again turning UIU over own downs at their own 11-yard line with 2:39 remaining. One play later, Reynolds broke around the left end for an 11-yard touchdown to give SMSU a 35-21 lead.

UIU wouldn’t go away and answered one more time, including completing a fourth-and-three toss from the SMSU 35-yard line that was caught by Brandyn Tulloch at the 13-yard line. One play later another touchdown pass from Herrera with 14 seconds remaining made the score 35-28.

UIU would attempt an on-side kick but the ball bounced out-of-bounds to secure the SMSU victory.

Southwest Minnesota State continues on the road next Saturday facing Minot State (2-2) with kickoff set for 3 p.m. in Minot, N.D.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic