Heading into their bye week, South Dakota finally has something important that they've been looking for throughout the first month of the 2019 season - momentum.

The Coyotes (1-3) took a lot of positives away from last week's 14-6 win at Northern Colorado.

On the offensive side of the football, there were a couple of long drives in the first half, but only one that ended in a score.

USD's ability to put points on the board in the first 30 minutes were hampered by Northern Colorado sacks, which pushed the Coyotes to the brink of field goal range on one drive and forced a turnover on another.

Head coach Bob Nielson told me the sacks overshadowed a pretty productive offensive effort in the first half:

USD Jake Matthew v Northern Colorado 2019
University of South Dakota

While the Coyote offense had some issues, the defense was putting together its best half of football all season.

USD got a fourth-down pass breakup from Jakari Starling and sacks from Jake Matthew and Darin Greenfield as part of a first-half which saw them limit the Bears to just five first downs, 14 yards rushing, 53 yards passing, and no points.

Nielson liked what he saw from his defense:

In the second half, the biggest issue the Coyotes had to deal with was penalties.

All seven of USD's infractions came in the second half and came on both sides of the ball, which at times, Nielson says, helped Northern Colorado:

When the Bears did finally find the end zone in the third quarter after an 80-yard drive, the Coyote special teams grabbed some of that momentum back when Kam Cline blocked the extra point attempt to keep USD ahead at 7-6.

Nielson says it was a big play:

South Dakota's offense found the end zone later on an 87-yard drive that began late in the third quarter and extended into the fourth. The drive featured a great balance of running and passing, as the Coyotes rolled up 200 yards on the ground in Greeley.

The defense sealed the win later as Stephen Hillis, Cline, and Starling all recorded second-half sacks. On the day, USD limited Northern Colorado to just 37 yards rushing.

Neilson says it was exactly the kind of game his team needed heading into a week off:

After the bye week, the Coyotes open Missouri Valley Conference play at home with Indiana State, October 5.

Kickoff is 2:00 PM at the DakotaDome.