Miles Bergner remembers the silence. When the South Dakota kicker's 33-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired on Oct. 17, 2015, at the Fargodome, giving the Coyotes a 24-21 victory over North Dakota State, the announced crowd of 18,420 went dead quiet.
Called it stunned silence.
The No. 2-ranked Bison, with a quarterback and left tackle among several players who would either play in the NFL or get a chance, had lost to a team that hadn't won in Fargo since 1978 and had lost 14 straight Missouri Valley Football Conference games. NDSU had won 26 straight in the Fargodome and was riding a streak of four straight Football Championship Subdivision national titles.
Of the Bison's eight defeats since the beginning of the 2011 season when their history-making dynasty began, the loss to South Dakota stands out for its out-of-left-field nature. Even a 2012 loss to Indiana State wasn't as surprising, because at least the Sycamores came into the game with a winning record and had superb running back Shakir Bell.
The Coyotes of 2014 just weren't very good. So when Bergner booted the game-winner to end it, the silence was deafening.
"The volume in the Fargodome went to complete zero," Bergner said this week. "I don't know if that place had ever been that quiet. I just remember how loud it was before I kicked it and how quiet it got."
With another edition of an underdog Coyotes team coming to the dome Saturday to take on a dominant NDSU team, it's a good time to take a quick look back.
Bergner, who graduated from USD in 2017, works for the Coyotes athletic department as an event manager. He went onto kick for indoor-league teams in Colorado and Sioux Falls before returning to the school. He said that until recently, a large photograph of his game-winning kick welcomed visitors to the USD football offices. It was replaced by one of former standout quarterback Chris Streveler.
"That kick is the moment that I'll be remembered for, that defines my career," he said. "And that's fine with me."
That the game even reached the point where Bergner had a chance to end the Bison's 26-game dome winning streak was a surprise, perhaps even to the Coyotes themselves. USD offensive lineman Derek Chancellor admitted in the postgame press conference that the team's goal before the game was to rush for 150 yards.
"As the game goes on, goals change," Chancellor said. "You're looking to win the game."
The Bison got off to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a short touchdown run by Bruce Anderson and a 37-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Darrius Shepherd. The Coyotes tied it at 14-14 in the second quarter, but NDSU got a touchdown pass from Wentz to Andrew Bonnet just before halftime for a 21-14 lead.
But NDSU's offense couldn't get anything going in the second half. The Bison got only three first downs after halftime, never more than one on a drive, and South Dakota tied it on its first possession of the fourth quarter. That capped a 15-play, 72-yard drive that took more than 7 minutes to tie the game 21-21 with 4:47 left -- and had Bison fans in the Fargodome restless because NDSU's offense wasn't doing anything and its defense was looking a step slow.
The Bison ran only three plays before having to punt and USD took over on its 29 with 3:20 remaining. Quarterback Ryan Saeger ran for seven yards on third-and-2 for a first down and, with a Bison personal foul penalty tacked on, the Coyotes had the ball at the NDSU 41. Trevor Bouma ripped off a 14-yard run on the next play to the Bison 27 and the Coyotes were in field goal range. They eventually moved it to the 16 before Bergner's winning boot.
"I knew there was no way (NDSU coach Chris) Klieman wasn't going to call timeout. For some reason, I wanted him to call timeout," Bergner said. "I'm sure he knew I wasn't having a great year up to that point and he was going to try to ice me. I was hoping he was going to call one and when he did, I just smiled. I thought, 'It's over now.' I don't know what came over me, but in the moment I was just calm."
It remains USD's biggest win since moving to the FCS in 2008.
It hasn't, however, been a program-changer. The Bison went on to win the national title again in 2015, despite an injury to Wentz in the USD game that sidelined him for eight games. They also won national championships after the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
USD, riding the talented Streveler for two years, made its first playoff appearance in 2017. The Coyotes are 4-6 this season, their most impressive win coming over Youngstown State last week.
It will take an upset of similar proportions for the Coyotes to win at the dome this weekend. The Bison's offense is rolling and USD's defense isn't very good. That doesn't bode well.
But, as was proven in 2015, upsets happen. The Coyotes would like nothing better than to hear nothing but silence when Saturday's game finishes.