South Dakota shocks No. 1 Eastern Washington
Vermillion, SD (Sports Network) - Defending FCS champion Eastern Washington has one of the nation's toughest season-opening stretches in September.
But Saturday's visit to the University of South Dakota was supposed to be the easy game this month.
It wasn't, though, as unranked South Dakota scored the game's first three touchdowns en route to a shocking 30-17 upset of the FCS' top-ranked team.
EWU (0-2) was coming off a 30-27 loss at Pac-12 member Washington - a strong showing for the Eagles.
South Dakota (1-1), a mere 4-7 last season, is the only Great West Conference school that will not join EWU in the Big Sky next year. The Eagles probably don't mind after the Coyotes posted their biggest FCS win since rising from Division II in 2008.
Quarterback Dante Warren rushed for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter and connected with Jeremy Blount for a 48-yard score in the second quarter. Jim Thompson's 67-yard interception touchdown return of a Bo Levi Mitchell pass then pushed South Dakota's lead to 21-0 with 7:49 left in the quarter.
Mitchell threw touchdowns late in the second and third quarters to pull EWU within 23-17. But Kevin Robb kicked his second and third field goals when South Dakota pulled away for good in the fourth quarter.
EWU outgained South Dakota, 380 yards to 324, on the strength of Mitchell's 369 passing yards. But the Coyotes controlled the clock with a 198-11 edge in rushing yards, led by Chris Ganious' 85 yards on 15 carries.
The schedule only gets tougher for EWU, which plays Big Sky powers Montana and Montana State over the next two Saturdays.
09/10 21:08:49 ET