Rocky’s gutsy 4th-down call leads to 2 TDs, victory over Blue HawksDickinson State was so close to snatching away the momentum it could taste it. Then, Brian Armstrong and Rocky Mountain got gutsy.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson State was so close to snatching away the momentum it could taste it.
Then, Brian Armstrong and Rocky Mountain got gutsy.
Holding a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bears’ head coach decided to go for it on a fourth-and-1 from just outside midfield.
Rocky got the first down and went on to score two touchdowns in the next five minutes, breaking away for a 30-19 victory and spoiling the Blue Hawks’ first Frontier Conference game in their season opener Saturday night at the Badlands Activities Center.
“If we can’t get two feet, we probably don’t deserve to win,” Armstrong said. “We needed something to get us going a little bit. Luckily it worked out for us.”
A gutsy call on fourth-and-1 from its own 48-yard line helped turn Rocky’s four-point lead into a two-touchdown advantage early in the fourth quarter.
After Rocky sophomore quarterback Bryce Baker was stuffed on a third-and-inches keeper, the Bears brought the punt team on the field and then quickly took them off in favor of their offense. The ball went to junior tailback Mickey Payne for the 1-yard first-down run Rocky needed.
Two plays later, Baker scrambled left for a 35-yard run to the 6, which got pushed up to the 3 after a horse-collar penalty on DSU senior safety Nolan Schwartz.
Baker found tight end Cale Vukonich on the next play and the Bears took a 24-13 lead with 11:23 to play.
The sophomore was 17 of 32 for 165 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
After forcing DSU into a punt, Ben Ray busted off right tackle for a 38-yard run on third down and set up a 2-yard TD run by Payne with 6:07 remaining. The Bears went ahead 30-13 following the missed extra point.
“Give them credit, they had some good drives and they hit some big plays,” DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said. “They hit some and we didn’t. That’s kind of what it came down to.”
The Blue Hawks couldn’t put their head coach in a tie for the NAIA’s winningest coach. Biesiot, in his 37th season, needed one win to tie Frosty Westering’s record as NAIA’s all-time wins leader.
Kevin Donley, the head coach at St. Francis (Ind.), entered the day tied with Biesiot on the official wins chart — though 11 of Donley’s wins came at the NCAA Division II level. Donley moved into a tie with Westering on Saturday afternoon after his team’s 39-31 win over Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
At times, it looked like DSU was fated to win.
DSU scored on its first offensive series of the season, a 10-play, 82-yard drive that lasted just under 5 minutes and didn’t include a completed pass.
Junior Myren Moore, a transfer from Bakersfield (Calif.) Community College, capped the series with a 10-yard TD run.
The Blue Hawks rushed for 216 yards behind their veteran offensive line, spreading the ball nearly evenly between senior quarterback Dave Velasquez (16 carries for 69 yards), Moore (15 carries for 68 yards) and senior running back Presley Straub (14 carries for 58 yards).
DSU outgained the Bears, racking up 350 total yards to Rocky’s 300.
“We had some good plays,” Biesiot said. “We just have to develop consistency.”
After a defensive battle in the third quarter, Moore scored the Blue Hawks’ only other touchdown 1:15 into the fourth quarter after he covered up senior quarterback Dave Velasquez fumble in the end zone on the quarterback’s dive forward.
Velasquez was 10 of 26 for 134 yards and threw a 6-yard TD pass to Nate Zachmann late in the fourth quarter to cut into the Bears’ lead.
DSU looked to put its offense back on the field with just over 12 minutes to play and a chance to retake the lead when Rocky turned the tables with its decision on fourth-and-1.
“That first game, you’ve always got to work out the kinks,” Velasquez said. “We did good. We had a lot of positive things we can work off of. If you look at it, we had a lot of good things. We’re a couple deep balls away from a couple touchdowns.”
After DSU put together a pair of clock-draining drives in the first quarter, Rocky scored 17 unanswered points in 4 minutes, 17 seconds in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead.
A short field led to a 23-yard Nick Knell field goal with 8:59 to play was set up by a 45-yard diving catch by Andre McCollouch.
Straub’s fumble at the 29 set up a three-play series. Baker’s 13-yard pass to Cole Cattelon put Rocky at the 1-yard line and Payne plunged in for the go-ahead touchdown run at the 6:56 mark.
After a DSU three-and-out, Baker hit freshman Ryan Toner on a 35-yard pass down the left sideline that put the Bears ahead 17-7 with 4:42 left.
“We found a way to make a couple plays we had to,” Armstrong said. “We sure weren’t consistent enough.”
RMC 0 17 0 13 — 30
DSU 7 0 0 12 — 19
DSU–Myren Moore 10 run (Chad Bryant kick), 7:35.
RMC–Nick Knell 23 FG, 8:59.
RMC–Mickey Payne 1 run (Knell kick), 6:56.
RMC–Ryan Toner 35 pass from Bryce Baker (Knell kick), 4:42.
DSU–Moore fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked), 13:45.
RMC–Cale Vukonich 3 pass from Baker (Knell kick), 11:23
RMC–Payne 2 run (kick failed), 6:07.
DSU–Nate Zachmann 6 pass from Dave Velasquez (kick blocked), 3:24.
TEAM STATISTICS RMC DSU
First downs 15 20
Rushes-yards 35-135 49-216
Passing yards 300 350
Comp.-Att.-Int. 17-32-1 10-26-1
Total yards 300 350
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-46 5-30
Punts-Avg. 8-32 8-38
RUSHING: RMC, Ben Ray 11-58, Baker 4-40, Payne 15-35, Chase White 1-2. DSU, Velasquez 16-69, Moore 15-68, Presley Straub 14-52, Matt Harkless 1-16, Kyle Stanton 2-6, Tanner Leak 1-5.
PASSING: RMC, Baker 17-32-1 165. DSU, 10-26-1 134.
RECEIVING: RMC, Bo Deeschmaeker 5-30, Andre McCollouch 4-52, Toner 3-58, Ray 2-4, Cole Cattelon 1-13, Clint Linthicum 1-5, Vukonich 1-3. DSU, Tanner Leak 6-69, JT Keith 1-16, Jimmy Smith 1-13, Zachmann 1-6, Straub 1-1.
TACKLES: RMC, Josh Johnson 12, Travis Bertelsen 11, Jacob Barit 7, Corey Bummer 6, Eric Buer 6, Andy Desin 6, Tanner Hunt 5, Brad Eliel 4, Ridge Fuentes 3, Brett Hilde 3, Weston Merrill 3, Josh Graham 2, Doug Karmowski 2, Evan Morris 2, Jake Scharbrough 2, Austin Feddersen 1, Chase Kaufman 1, Corey McClure 1, Isaac McCreery 1, RJ Taylor 1, Vukonich 1. DSU, Jay Grosz 12, Nolan Schwartz 7, Jaylen Sokoloski 7, Sam Herauf 5, Colton Hill 5, Cord Berg 4, Meyer Bohn 3, Shawn Alder 2, Mike Fisher 2, Cameron Hughes 2, David Williams 2, Matt Seibert 2, Blake Pirkl 1, Matt Harkless 1, Stephen Spitulski 1, Bo Brooks 1, Cody Clausen 1, Colten Johnston 1, Matt McCoy 1, Jordan Moore 1, Shane Noonan 1.
SACKS: RMC, Hunt 1, Eliel 1, Merrill 1/2. DSU, None.
INTERCEPTIONS: RMC, Bertelsen. DSU, Alder.