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With blocking from Presley Straub, left, and Kyle Watson, right, Dickinson State junior Tanner Leak, second from left, prepares to make a cut against Mayville State's Teague Kowalski on his 67-yard punt return for a touchdown Saturday afternoon during DSU's 47-14 Dakota Athletic Conference victory at the Badlands Activities Center.

Blue Hawks blast Comets, 47-14

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Fool Hank Biesiot once, shame on you. Fool him twice? Well, that just doesn't happen.

Mayville State opened with a 73-yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker 16 seconds into Saturday's Dakota Athletic Conference football game, but didn't do much else.

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The Blue Hawks smothered the Comets the rest of the way en route to a 47-14 victory at the Badlands Activities Center as they moved Biesiot, DSU's coach of 36 years, within four victories of becoming the NAIA's all-time winningest coach.

"They got a big play out of it, but we seemed to keep our focus," Biesiot said of Mayville State quarterback Jake McLain's opening touchdown pass to Taylor Kunkel. "All the guys knew there was a lot of football left to play and we had time to do something about this one."

The Blue Hawks (2-3, 2-1 DAC) didn't take their time though.

They scored 47 unanswered points on seven touchdowns, breaking the game open in the second quarter and rolling to a 40-7 halftime lead.

DSU had a season-high 458 total yards as quarterback Dave Velasquez threw for career bests of 247 yards and three touchdowns, including one to running back Brennan Haughian.

Haughian had 112 total yards. He rushed for 70 yards and two touchdowns and provided a first-half spark for the Blue Hawks.

He broke open a 19-yard TD run on a draw up the middle with 6:19 left in the first quarter and rumbled in on a similar play from nine yards out with 2 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Haughian set up his second touchdown by picking up the ball on a blocked field-goal attempt and pushing seven yards to the 9-yard line for the first down to give DSU a 13-7 lead.

"Instead of us getting the ball and momentum, they get the ball and the lead," Mayville State head coach Derek Schleive said. "That's a pretty big swing."

Haughian, a 5-foot-8, 205-pound running back from Miles City, Mont., scored his first career receiving touchdown from 34 yards out after taking a floundering dump pass from Velasquez just before he was sacked with 9:12 left in the second quarter. That put DSU ahead 26-7.

Haughian either broke tackles or busted through Mayville State's line on each of his touchdowns.

"We kind of knew they dived at feet coming in," he said. "I don't think I got touched until five yards down the line. Obviously, our offensive lineman did an excellent job to let us do that."

Haughian's receiving touchdown was the second of two set up by sophomore linebacker Cord Berg's fumble recoveries in the quarter.

Berg's recovery of a McLain fumble at the Mayville State 30 led to a 10-yard TD pass from Velasquez to Tanner Leak.

"We started off kind of slow," said Berg, who also had five tackles. "They caught us off guard with that first play. After that, we pulled it together."

Leak broke the game open on a 67-yard punt return with 6:19 remaining in the second quarter to give the Blue Hawks a 33-7 advantage.

On DSU's final series of the half, Velasquez sent a downfield pass to a wide-open J.T. Keith for a 69-yard touchdown that put DSU ahead 40-7 at halftime. It was the freshman receiver from Miles City's first catch as a Blue Hawk.

Velasquez was 10 of 19 for 203 yards passing in the first half and finished 12 of 22. He was pulled after getting DSU to the 9-yard line on its second series of the third quarter. That drive ended with a missed 18-yard field goal.

"We just got in a groove," Velasquez said of the Blue Hawks' first-half performance. "Once we started getting rolling, we did pretty good."

With the backups in on both sides early in the fourth quarter, DSU tacked on another score when freshman quarterback Matt Harkless escaped a sack and scrambled down the right sideline, tiptoeing his way for a first down and then turning on the jets and evading several tackles for a 54-yard touchdown run.

It Schlieve wasn't frustrated already, he was after that.

"I don't think it could have got much worse," he said. "You hit a play here or there, then we're alright. But collectively as a group, that was pretty bad. A lot of mistakes."

Really, the only perfect play the Comets had was the opening flea flicker, executed to perfection by McLain and freshman tailback Jerril Jenkins.

The Comets (3-3, 0-2 DAC) wouldn't score again until McLain engineered a 33-yard drive after a DSU fumble and scored on a 5-yard TD run with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter.

Mayville State finished with 312 total yards, but were held to just 33 in the first half following its opening touchdown.

McLain was 11 of 24 for 207 yards passing and an interception. Jenkins rushed for 79 yards.

"The execution just wasn't where it needed to be," Schlieve said.

The win was nothing but a confidence booster for the Blue Hawks, who will have their hands full next Saturday when they host No. 4-ranked defending national champion Carroll College.

"We've got to come hard, focus up and get it together," Velasquez said. "We can't have any more mental mistakes. We've got to play a great game next week."

Notes: DSU junior Presley Straub, a two-way player at receiver and defensive back, had his first career interception in the fourth quarter. ... DSU sophomore receiver Jimmy Smith had a team-high five catches for 81 yards. ... Junior Stephen Spitulski forced McLain's fumble. It was the first forced fumble of his career.

MSU 7 0 0 7 -- 14

DSU 13 27 0 7 -- 47

First quarter

MSU-Taylor Kunkel 73 pass from Jake McLain (Jay Dyck kick), 14:46.

DSU-Brennan Haughian 19 run (kick failed), 6:19.

DSU-Haughian 9 run (Tury Escobedo kick), :02.

Second quarter

DSU-Tanner Leak 10 pass from Dave Velasquez (run failed), 10:34.

DSU-Haughian 34 pass from Velasquez (Escobedo kick), 9:12.

DSU-Leak 67 punt return (Escobedo kick), 6:19.

DSU-J.T. Keith 69 pass from Velasquez (Escobedo kick), 2:18.

Third quarter

No scoring.

Fourth quarter

DSU-Matt Harkless 54 run (Escobedo kick), 13:13.

MSU-McLain 5 run (Dyck kick), 5:32.

TEAM STATISTICS MSU DSU

First downs 16 20

Rushes-yards 32-105 36-181

Passing yards 207 277

Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-24-1 15-25-0

Total yards 312 458

Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1

Penalties-yards 6-50 9-85

Punts-Avg. 5-41 3-34.7

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: MSU, Jerrill Jenkins 16-79, Daven Arrendondo 6-41, McLain 10-(minus-15). DSU, Haughian 16-70, Harkless 1-54, Michael Cooper 7-32, Riley Moore 9-19, Kyle Stanton 2-11, Velasquez 1-(minus-5).

PASSING: MSU, McLain 11-24-1 207. DSU, Velasquez 12-22-0 247, Harkless 3-3-0 30.

RECEIVING: MSU, Kunkel 4-86, Brandon Berger 2-67, Taylor Elsenheimer 2-24, Steven Lopez 2-23, Victor Redd 1-7. DSU, Jimmy Smith 5-81, Leak 3-39, Haughian 2-42, Steve Christensen 2-17, Keith 1-69, Nate Zachmann 1-15, Presley Straub 1-14.

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Dustin Monke
Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He has been a key member of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, as well as the Press' Sweepstakes win in 2013. As the newspaper's editor, he writes a Sunday column, contributes feature stories, designs pages and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff.
(701) 456-1205
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