#16 USF FB rolls to 11th win with 42-10
decision over UCO in Mineral Water Bowl
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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. The University of Sioux Falls Football Team finished off its best-ever season in NCAA DII with 11 victories after an impressive wire-to-wire, 42-10, win over Central Oklahoma in the 49th annual Mineral Water Bowl at Excelsior Springs, Mo., on Saturday afternoon.
“I am very proud of this group,” said fifth-year head coach Jed Stugart, whose team was victorious in the school’s first-ever DII postseason appearance. “This team showed extraordinary chemistry, resilience and Cougar pride all season and capped it off with a strong performance today. I am pleased that we had this opportunity today and especially proud of the work of the seniors, who showed extraordinary leadership all season. With their teammates, they showed how hard work and sticking together can result in good things,” he added.
In all 11 of its victories this season, USF won by double digit margins. In fact, the 32-point win over OCU of the MIAA was the Cougars’ eighth victory by at least 20 points. In a dominating win, USF forced three turnovers (three interceptions 27 on the year) which pushed the Cougars total to 40 this year, a total that ranks third nationally.
In the school’s first-ever Mineral Water Bowl performance, the Cougars jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 28-3 by halftime. USF added a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters as they cruised to the 42-10 win. The 11 wins represents the 15th time in school history that USF has recorded at double figure win totals.
“We want to give thanks to the Mineral Water Bowl Committee for providing this opportunity to us and serving as fantastic hosts,” said Stugart. “They showed us every consideration that one could ask. We also want to thank coach (Nick) Bobeck and his Central Oklahoma team for their efforts today. We have had a great experience and a lot of fun,” he said.
NSIC Offensive Player of the Year Luke Papilion, who was greeted in the post-game by former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, also a Cherry Creek High School (Denver, Colo.) graduate, was named the Game’s Offensive MVP after completing 19-of-33 passes for 224 yards and three TDs. He also rushed 10 times for 85 yards. Papilion concluded his season with 2,779 yards passing and 804 yards rushing, both career highs. He now has 3,599 career yards throwing, which ranks eighth on the USF career passing charts, and moved past 1,500 yards rushing (1,541 yards).
Senior running Nephi Garcia concluded his USF career with 19 carries for 82 yards, a TD run and his first-ever TD pass. Garcia concluded his career eighth on USF’s all-time chart (Erik Cimpl, 2005-08, 2,254) with 2,258 yards on 465 carries with 28 career rushing TDs. Sophomore wide receiver Josh Angulo had a game-high seven receptions for a career-high 142 yards and three TDs.
Two-time All-NSIC selection John Tidwell was named the Defensive Player of the Game after recording two interceptions, seven tackles and returning a punt 55 yards for a TD.
On the day, the Cougars produced 500 yards in total offense for the fourth time this season, and did so for the third straight game. In the DII era, USF is 4-0 this season and 10-1 when gaining 500 yards in total offense.
While the offense performed at a high level, it was a special team’s play that put USF in control early as the Cougars led from start to finish.
After winning a toss and deferring possession to the second half. USF held Central Oklahoma to a three and out to set up the game’s first score. On the ensuing punt, Tidwell returned the punt 55 yards to pay dirt to give USF a quick 7-0 lead with just 13:54 to play in the first quarter. Tidwell’s punt return was his second TD return in two games (Wayne State, 78 yards, 11-15-2014) and the team’s 10th defensive or special teams score this season, which ranks as the most in the school’s DII era.
After holding UCO on a third straight three and out in the first quarter, Cougars struck again by taking advantage of a short field. After a short punt to the 48-yard line, USF moved the ball to the end zone in six plays with Garcia scoring his 18th TD of the season and 31st and 10th overall in his career with a nine-yard score at 7:51 of the first quarter.
UCO, which was led by quarterback Chas Stallard (19-37-3 int.-234 passing yards and 85 yards rushing), answered the Cougars score by driving deep into USF territory but were forced to settle on a 27-yard field goal by Seth Hiddink with 3:20 to play in the first quarter.
The Cougars quickly responded with another score by using a little trickery to bring the USF faithful to their feet. After Papilion had a 13-yard run on a third and eight play, USF handed the ball to Garcia who tossed his first-ever TD pass to a wide open Angulo down the right sideline for a 69-yard pitch and catch. The TD allowed USF to take a 21-3 lead over UCO with 1:45 to play in the first quarter.
After USF strong safety Thad Campbell picked off a pass early in the third quarter, USF’s Angulo came up big two plays later. Angulo, a sophomore from Sioux Falls (Roosevelt), S.D., hauled in a one-handed 25-yard TD grab from Papilion for a 28-3 lead with 12:47 to play in the second quarter.
The Cougars put the game away with another score in the third quarter, just after the USF defense stopped OCU on a 4th and one play around midfield. With 12:13 to play in the third quarter, Papilion and Angulo connected on a 25-yard TD strike as the Cougars led, 35-3.
The Bronchos, which gained 419 yards in total offense, reached the end zone for the first time with 5:02 to play in the third quarter on a five-yard run from Greg Johnson. The score capped an eight-play 80-yard scoring drive.
USF concluded the scoring for the game when Erick Albeck hauled in a 29-yard TD pass from Papilion, who had his third TD throw of the game.