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Cougars Fall to Run-First Peacocks 30-28

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FAYETTE, IA — Peacock running back Chris Smith’s record-breaking performance coupled with fourth-down woes haunted Sioux Falls in a 30-28 loss to Upper Iowa Saturday night at Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette, Iowa.

Smith broke Upper Iowa’s single season rushing mark in the third quarter and finished with 258 yards and three scores for the Peacocks (5-4, 2-3). USF went 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts while Nephi Garcia was finally slowed down by the tough Peacock defense, as he failed to reach the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since the Cougars’ (5-4, 3-2) season-opening loss to Minnesota-Duluth.

USF senior quarterback Carrington Hanna went 34-for-50 for 298 yards and two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Matt Young finished 2-for-2 for 81 yards and a score.

Peacock junior quarterback Cole Jaeschke completed 23 of 30 attempts for 191 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The game got off to a slow start for USF, with its offense sputtering to two early three and outs. The Cougars advanced the ball only four yards on their opening series before punting it away. The Peacocks struck first on their first drive of the game, with Cole Jaeschke and Chris Smith doing most of the damage by nickel and diming their way down the field. On 1st-and-10 from the USF 29-yard line, Jaeschke surveyed the field from the pocket and picked up 26 yards with his feet to set up the three-yard endzone rush for his running back.

After the teams traded punts, Wes Smith broke off a 44-yard punt return that let the Cougars set up shop at the UIU-34 yard line. USF ran four straight run plays that moved the chains twice and culminated in a 1st-and-goal on the Peacock 5-yard line. Garcia was stopped for no gain on 1st-and-goal before Peacock defensive lineman Branden Owen batted Hanna’s pass to Erick Albeck down. On third-and-goal, Hanna ran up the middle and dove headfirst on a quarterback keeper but was ruled down inside the one-yard line. The Cougars’ last gasp fell short when a pair of linebackers dressed in baby blue and white jerseys caught Garcia by the ankles and kept him out of the endzone.

Jaeschke went back to Chris Smith on the Peacocks’ ensuing drive and 5-8, 190-pounder would rack up 60 of his 137 first half rushing yards on the series. On 1st-and-10 at the UIU 34-yard line, Smith played Frogger to break four tackles for a 55-yard gain before Solomon St. Pierre’s shoe-string tackle at the USF 11-yard line. Four plays later when on a pitch-and-catch, Smith darted backwards and Broughan Jantz brought him down three-yards behind the line to scrimmage for a huge goal line stand for the Cougars as UIU netted zero points on the nine-play, 90 yard drive.

USF responded quickly, with freshman quarterback Matt Young’s 78-yard reception to Wes Smith that set the offense up in great field position. It didn’t take long, as after a couple of quick runs Young hit Erick Albeck on a beautiful three-yard strike, who used every inch of his 6-3 frame to level the score at 7-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Cougar linebacker Clint Wilson introduced himself to Jaeschke nine yards behind the line of scrimmage at the start of the Peacocks’ next series, which resulted in a punt with 13 seconds on the clock. Things looked good for the Cougars after they switched ends of the field when Hanna delivered a 26-yard strike to Josh Angulo.  First play of the second quarter to Angulo 26 yard pass. Hanna then evaded a sack and the Cougars were gifted 15 yards and a first down when the Peacocks were charged with defensive pass interference. On 3rd and 2 on the UIU 11, Hanna’s keeper picked up the first down to give the Cougars first and goal from the Peacock 7- yard line. Two plays later, Hanna was flushed out of the pocket and he couldn’t get away from Alex Wahl, who sacked him for a loss of 16 yards. USF came up empty-handed when Bradley Hatfield missed the 39-yard field goal attempt.

Upper Iowa would respond with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jaeschke to lucas Hefty to move in from 14-7 with 19 seconds left in the half.  The Cougars executed its hurry-up offense nearly perfect, as Hanna tossed four consecutive out-passes to Angulo that put the ball at the UIU 28 but Hatfield’s 45-yard attempt fell short and the Peacocks went to the locker room with the 14-7 halftime lead.

The Peacocks received the ball to start the second half and struck quickly, with Jaeschke calmly leading his team down the field with some good passing, aided by his own 20-yard rush to start the drive. Backed up by a holding penalty and facing a 1st and 20 from the USF 22, Jaeschke completed two of three passes and Tim Rueb drilled the 30-yard field goal to stake the Peacocks to a 17-7 lead with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter.

The defenses began to assert themselves there as Chayz Holt’s dedicated spy job on Hanna forced a USF three-and-out on the next series, while Jaeschke found it increasingly difficult to move the ball through the air against the Cougars’ defense. He failed to complete a pass on the Peacocks’ following series and they punted it away.

USF was back in business at its own 48-yard line and Hanna began to assert himself with a string of rushes that moved the Cougars into Upper Iowa territory. Staring at 3rd-and-12 after a false start, Hanna ran for nine yards but the Cougars would fail to convert on 4th-and-three.

The Cougar defense held UIU to five total yards on the following series but USF would stalled at the UIU 46 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.

Chris Smith broke Upper Iowa’s single-season rushing record on the next drive, a 6-play 72-yard effort capped with Smith’s 18-yard scoring rush to give UIU the 23-7 advantage with the failed point after attempt.

USF’s best offensive series followed, as Hanna went 4-for-4 on the 11-play, 71 yard drive that concluded with a gritty three-yard endzone rush by Garcia. Angulo barreled in for the two-point conversion to trim Upper Iowa’s lead to 23-15 with 11:45 to go.

The Cougar defense responded on the subsequent drive when Jaeschke threw an ill-advised pass across his body on that was intercepted by St. Pierre and returned 24 yards to the UIU 40. But the teams wound up trading turnovers when Hanna was picked off six plays later.

There was no quit in Coach Robert Tucker’s defense. On 3rd-and-1 at the UIU 12, Thad Campbell knocked the ball out of Smith’s hands, which was recovered by sophomore linebacker Carter Ahlers and led to a five-yard touchdown pass from Hanna to Wes Smith. The Cougars fell short on the two-point attempt to trail 23-21 before Chris Smith weaved through traffic to cement his conference player of the week performance with a 59-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach.

Hanna added a late nine-yard touchdown pass to Austin Vanhove with five seconds left and Cameron Ostrom recovered the ensuing onside kick, but it was too little too late for the Cougars as Hanna’s Hail Mary attempt found no open hands.

Wes Smith tallied a game-high 331 all purpose yards and led the Cougars’ receiving corp, hauling in 10 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. Josh Angulo had 12 catches for 124 yards.

Campbell paced an outstanding defensive effort, posting 14 tackles and a forced fumble. St. Pierre, Batinich and Ahlers were credited with 10 tackles each while Grant Schindler (7 tackles) and Clint Wilson (6 tackles) both tallied sacks.

Sioux Falls returns home to host No. 1 Minnesota State next Saturday.

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Courtesy:  University of Sioux Falls

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