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Familiar foe: Blue Hawks take on Lights for 2nd time in 4 weeks

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State freshman defensive lineman Shane Noonan, back right, sacks MSU-Northern quarterback Derek Lear during a Frontier Conference on Sept. 14 at the Biesiot Activities Center.

Under the lights of the Biesiot Activities Center, the Dickinson State football team began its season with a 14-0 loss to Montana State-Northern on Aug. 29.

Almost a month later, the Blue Hawks travel to Havre, Mont., at 1 p.m. today to seek revenge against the Lights at their own home field.

After already playing the team, sophomore quarterback Thad Lane said he doesn't expect their offense and defense to change their game plans or how they've been practicing.

"They shut us out the first game of the year, I don't think they're going to change too many things that they're doing defensively so that's kind of what we're preparing for," Lane said. "I think this time around it'll be a lot different game this time around."

The Lights are currently 2-1 on the season and coming off a 45-27 blowout win against Eastern Oregon University. The Blue Hawks too are coming off a blowout, a 55-21 loss at home to Rocky Mountain College. DSU head coach Hank Biesiot tipped his hat to the Bears and admitted his team was outplayed that week.

"I think Montana Western they just outplayed us, outcoached us in every phase of the game," Biesiot said. "You heard me say it last week and I was accurate. They came out and performed."

After coming off the loss, the Blue Hawks have had an impressive week of practice, putting their 0-3 record behind them and focusing on getting better and preparing for Northern.

On the field, DSU had intensity in every drill on offense and defense. The excitement carried over to the players watching from the sidelines.

"To be honest, this has been one of our better weeks of practice through the whole year," Lane said. "We've had a lot of them through two-a-days ... but I thought Monday and Tuesday were probably the best practices we've had all year and we ended with a pretty decent Thursday practice so it's been a pretty good week."

Preparation for Northern hasn't changed since Week 1. The defense is still aggressive, the running backs are still fast and Derek Lear is still at quarterback. Lear left the field during the second half against DSU with an injury to his knee, which sparked rumors of him being done for the season.

However, Lear only missed one game and was back for last week's win over Eastern Oregon. Lear threw for 313 yards with three touchdowns and has accumulated 516 total yards for the season.

On the defensive end of the ball, the team had been focusing on all aspects of Northern's offense and using the last meet up as a guide on how to handle and pass and run game.

"We are preparing like we do every week, just fire right away in the game," safety Matt Harkless said. "We prepared good all week, we just have to come out and do that in the game right away and not let the teams jump all over us.

"Where they really beat us was in the second half. They came out and ran the ball hard at us and we really didn't have an answer for them right away. I think we need to come out in the first half against them and play that the full game."

For the offense, the team has been working on the same things since two-a-days: consistency and getting off to a fast start. So far, the offense has been slow in the first half between scoring and driving the ball down the field. Biesiot said it's crucial for his offense to start out strong. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for the Blue Hawks to come back and try to win in the second half.

"If you look at our point total first quarter, it hasn't been good all year and we got to do that," Biesiot said. "You have to have some mini drives and hold onto the ball a little bit ... and into the grind of the game which we would like to get into."

Freshman quarterback Kaler Ray added: "Every game so far our offense has come out in the second half, that's when we really get the wheels turning. So we got to come out in the first half. We got to do a better job putting up points more efficiently in the first half. We need to have nice long drives and put points on them."

With the intensity and enthusiasm the Blue Hawks have had all week during practice, the team is anxious to get out on the field.

"We're really excited we get to go back to Northern and try to come out with a win," Ray said.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.