No. 3 Saints defeat Blue Hawks, 35-6
Dickinson State learned a valuable lesson about the Frontier Conference on Saturday at the Badlands Activities Center.
When Carroll College is handed a short field, it will make its opponent pay.
The No. 3-ranked Saints took advantage of excellent field position and got big performances from running backs Dustin Ritter and Chance Demarais to claim a 35-6 victory over DSU in likely the final nonconference game between two of the NAIA's top football programs before they become conference rivals beginning next season.
"We talked to these guys all week that this is a big game," Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest said. "This is the only game we have (against DSU) on our schedule, so we better tighten it up."
That wasn't much of a problem thanks to short fields.
Of the Saints' (5-1) five touchdown drives, four began in DSU territory and the other started at Carroll's 49-yard line. Still, their offense was able to rack up 387 total yards.
Much of that was thanks to Rinker's 136 yards rushing and Demarais' 99 yards and two touchdowns. Rinker shouldered much of the rushing load in the second half and added a 1-yard TD run as Demarais, the nation's leading rusher, stayed on the sidelines to nurse a sore right knee.
"As a backup, we're expected to be able to play like the starter," Rinker said. "So, just to be able to step in and play when Chance should get some rest, it gives us some confidence -- and we had guys who did that across the board."
The Saints' defense limited the Blue Hawks (2-4) to a season-low 174 total yards in their homecoming game. DSU had just 91 yards rushing and averaged 2.7 yards per carry.
Field position was the story for the Blue Hawks, too.
The Blue Hawks' not only struggled moving the ball, their best starting field position was twice at their own 37-yard line.
Midway through the fourth quarter, they engineered a seven-play touchdown drive. Though that happened after Carroll had staked a 28-0 lead.
DSU's lone scoring drive was sparked by Dave Velasquez's 38-yard pass to Tanner Leak and capped by the junior quarterback's 4-yard touchdown run on a bootleg right.
In the first quarter, DSU had the ball for 6:22 but was only able to advance to the 50-yard line. That was despite a bold fourth-and-short quarterback sneak call that looked like it could spark something for the Blue Hawks with the score knotted at 0-0. However, a holding penalty on the next play stalled the series.
"We got in long yardage too much," said DSU head coach Hank Biesiot, who suffered his 100th career defeat. "We knew going in that first downs were going to be so important. You've got to get four yards on first down. We just didn't do that. We took some penalties, we took some sacks early on things and most teams -- nobody -- has an offense for that."
Well, Carroll might.
After failing to score in the first quarter -- DSU senior linebacker Jerel Hafner blocked two Tom Yaremko field-goal attempts, including a 37-yarder on the Saints' opening drive -- Carroll began finding its offensive motor.
Early in the second quarter, Demarais and Ritter combined for a five-play drive capped by Demarais' 3-yard TD run.
On the Saints' next drive, senior quarterback Dane Broadhead threw the first of his two touchdown passes, this one a 37-yarder over the middle to Matt Ritter that put Carroll ahead 14-0 at halftime.
Still, Van Diest felt the Saints could have done more.
"Halftime wasn't very pretty in here," he said. "We had some things we had to discuss."
Leak's fumble on the opening kick return of the third quarter gave Carroll the ball at the DSU 23-yard line, which set up another five-play sequence that Demarais ended with a 1-yard TD plunge.
"I thought our kids kept the hustle up after that," Biesiot said. "We just have to find some ways to get some things done."
The Saints poured it on in the fourth quarter when Drew Clausen skirted a pair of DSU defenders on a fourth-and-12 pass from Broadhead and scored on a 30-yard touchdown reception. That put Carroll ahead 28-0.
Velasquez scored on DSU's ensuing drive, which led to an onside kick that Carroll recovered. Six plays later, Ritter dived into the end zone from 1 yard out for the game's final TD.
"The guys played hard, I thought, right to the end," Biesiot said." But we've just got to play better, get them in position to play better. It isn't just on them. It's coaching-wise, too. We have to get some of them in better positions to succeed."
The Blue Hawks visit Valley City State next Saturday in a rematch of a Sept. 10 game that the Vikings won 28-26 on a touchdown pass with no time remaining.
DSU senior linebacker Tyler Schmidkunz, who had a game-high 14 tackles, said there were positives for the Blue Hawk to glean from the loss and added the Blue Hawks must keep their heads up and get ready for next week's Dakota Athletic Conference game.
"The biggest thing is we have to take the positives out of this game," Schmidkunz said. "It surely didn't end up the way we wanted to in the end, but we've got to move on to next week and have a good team in Valley City (State). We've got to be ready for them."
Notes: Velasquez's TD run staved off what could have been a somewhat historic shutout. The last time the Blue Hawks were blanked was in 1989 when they fell to Moorhead (Minn.) State 13-0. ... DSU has lost six straight games to Carroll, but all five of the previous were playoff games.
Carroll 0 14 7 14 -- 25
DSU 0 0 0 6 -- 6
CC-Chance Demarais 3 run (Tom Yaremko kick), 9:27
CC-Matt Ritter 37 pass from Dane Broadhead (Yaremko kick), 4:33
CC-Demarais 1 run (Yaremko kick), 12:37
CC-Drew Clausen 30 pass from Broadhead (Yaremko kick), 13:28.
DSU-Dave Velasquez 4 run (Tury Escobedo kick blocked), 10:23
CC-Dustin Rinker 1 run (Ryan Swenson kick), 7:23.
TEAM STATISTICS CC DSU
First downs 18 12
Rushes-yards 46-256 34-91
Passing yards 131 84
Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-18-0 7-21-1
Total yards 387 175
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-54 3-30
Punts-Avg. 4-48.5 8-34.5
RUSHING: CC, Rinker 17-136, Demarais 16-99, Anthony Clarke 1-10, Jordan Pine 3-8, Dakota Stonehouse 2-6, Colter Rood 3-4, Broadhead 4-(minus-7). DSU, Brennan Haughian 18-39, Velasquez 8-17, Tyler Grosz 4-12, Riley Moore 2-10, Tanner Leak 1-8, Kyle Stanton 1-5.
PASSING: CC, Broadhead 11-18-0 131. DSU, Velasquez 7-21-1 84.
RECEIVING: CC, Ritter 5-59, Clausen 3-48, Trey Infanger 2-19, Lat Wipplinger 1-5. DSU, Jimmy Smith 3-36, Leak 2-45, Haughian 2-3.