Carroll College rolls against Dickinson State
HELENA, Mont. -- The Carroll College football team wasn't particularly proud of how they played two weeks ago at Eastern Oregon. The result of that play was the first loss of the season for the Saints, and the team spent the last weeks talking about the importance focus.
After their display on Saturday, consider that a lesson learned.
Fueled by a dominant defensive showing and three first-quarter touchdown passes from Dakota Stonehouse, the Saints rolled to a 42-7 win over visiting Dickinson State at Nelson Stadium. Stonehouse finished with four touchdowns in all while the Saints defense held the Blue Hawks to just 142 yards of total offense -- with 45 of those yards coming on one fourth-quarter play.
"Two weeks ago, when we lost, we had some missed assignments, and we didn't make good plays while they made some plays," Carroll coach Mike Van Diest said. "We've got good players on this football team, and they found out you've gotta play every game and every down. We've just gotta focus. I think we lost our concentration. And you can't do that.
"This week, focus was our number one thing. Trying to tell them, 'Do your job and the rest of it will take care of itself.'"
With the win, the seventh-ranked Saints (5-1 overall, 4-1 Frontier Conference) move into a first-place tie atop the Frontier standings with idle Rocky Mountain College. In fact, Rocky wasn't the only team idle this week -- Carroll and Dickinson was the only game on the conference schedule. And with Montana State off and the University of Montana at UC-Davis, the Saints were pretty much the only show in the state.
And, starting straight off, it was quite a show.
The Saints took their first possession and moved quickly down the field, capping the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Stonehouse to Kyle Griffith.
On the ensuing drive a bad exchange led to a Dickinson turnover, giving Carroll a short field. The Saints ate up those yards in just a little more than two minutes, Stonehouse finding Anthony Clarke in the corner of the end zone. The CoJo Smith extra point made it a 14-0 Carroll lead with 8:09 still to play in the opening quarter.
That score would grow to 21-0 before long, Stonehouse finding Sean Blomquist on the sideline from 18 yards out with 2:40 to play.
"We couldn't pick up any offensive rhythm, it was a tough day up front in the trenches," DSU coach Hank Biesiot said. "We knew Carroll was good, they handled us offensively and we had trouble stopping them ... We fumbled the ball three times in the first half, you can't do that against a good team."
The scoring slowed in the second quarter, the only touchdown a result of special teams and defense.
When a Carroll drive stalled on the Blue Hawk's side of the field, punter Rhys Felton -- who finished with three punts for an average of 56.7 yards -- let fly one of his signature rugby-style punts. The end-over-end kick landed inside the five and was downed by the Saints inside the 1, setting the stage for the Carroll defense to put up some points.
And, when Dickinson tried to run it out of the end zone on third down, it did. A swarming defense popped the ball free and Mike Siegersma pounced on the loose ball, giving Carroll a 28-0 halftime lead.
"We haven't scored a touchdown on defense for a long time, and we've been snake-bit the last couple of games," Van Diest said. "We haven't had many turnovers that we've created. And today we got some turnovers -- they made some mistakes but we also caused some turnovers. And we've gotta keep doing that. We've gotta keep coming to the football; we've gotta keep playing hard."
The Saints offense came out of the locker room and put another seven up on Clarke's second score of the game, this one from 24 yards out into the back corner of the end zone.
The Blue Hawks prevented a shutout early in the fourth quarter, a score set up by a diving, 45-yard grab by Miles City product JT Keith. That grab put Dickinson less than a yard from the end zone, but the Carroll D stood it up twice, pushing the ball back to the 3. From there, though, Thad Lane was able to hit Keith on a jump ball, the 6-foot-4 receiver pulling it down between a pair of defenders with 12:24 to play.
"JT's really playing well," Biesiot said. "He's as good as one of the top receivers in the conference and I think he's developing into that. He made some big catches today."
The Saints may have lost the shutout, but they got those seven back on the other end of the field. On a drive highlighted by a series of Dustin Rinker runs, the junior finally got his score when he got to the edge from the 1-yard line, resulting in the final margin of 42-7.
Rinker finished with a game-high 165 yards on 22 carries. Backup Jordan Pine had 10 carries for 50 yards. The receiving corps was led by Clarke's four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Griffith had four grabs as well, finishing with 54 yards and the score.
Though, while the scoreboard says it was all Carroll, the team knows it has plenty to work on in the coming week.
"I think the second quarter we really, I think, offensively didn't execute like we wanted to," Van Diest said. "We were up 21-nothing and in the second quarter we had some penalties, we had a turnover ... just little things that if you're a good football team you've gotta overcome. But things you don't want those to happen."
Stonehouse, who finished the day 11 of 16 for 152 yards -- while picking up another 88 on the ground -- agreed.
"The first quarter went well," he said. "We were held out after that for almost two quarters, we had one touchdown in the third, so room to improve there. But I thought we started out real well."
Stonehouse smiled when asked about the touchdown pass to Blomquist, an occasional two-way player who typically gets his offensive plays on goal-line situations as a lead blocker for Rinker. He's had a handful of touchdowns in his Carroll career, but Saturday's grab was his first of 2013.
Blomquist, for his part, was humble about his offensive contribution.
"It's a good play call, and usually I'm wide open," he said. "It's all play-calling and coach (Nick) Howlett, and the offense executed."
The defense did, too. Led by Blomquist's eight tackles, Carroll's defensive line shut down Dickinson's run-based offense. The visitors finished the day with just 45 yards rushing on 29 attempts. Their longest gain of the day on the ground was 11 yards.
"We knew they loved to run the ball and if we could stop the run we'd be in a good position to stop the pass," Blomquist said. "(Keith), he's a great athlete. He's a great football player. And this team is a good football team. They're a lot better than they were last year. But I think we just focused on stopping the run as the most important thing."
It worked, and allowed the safeties the freedom to focus on the pass. The Carroll secondary allowed just nine completions, giving up 97 yards.
But Carroll hasn't become a national power by reveling in wins or dwelling on defeats. It's now back to film and back to the practice field in preparation for next week's trip to Montana Western.
"What happens today carries over to the first part of the week, but we've gotta become a better football team in practice this week," Van Diest said. "We're gonna see a different type of football team. They came out and won three games out of the chute and they had a quarterback hurt last week, but I think he's healthy this week. He's had two weeks to rest. So we'll get the best of Western, and it's always been tough playing down there."
DSU 0 0 0 7 -- 7
CC 21 7 7 7 -- 42
CC-Kyle Griffith 24 pass from Dakota Stonehouse (CoJo Smith kick), 10:35
CC-Anthony Clarke 10 pass from Stonehouse (Smith kick), 8:09
CC-Sean Blomquist 18 pass from Stonehouse (Smith kick), 2:40
CC-Mike Siegersma fumble recovered in end zone (Smith kick), 6:28
CC-Clarke 24 pass from Stonehouse (Smith kick), 8:26
DSU-JT Keith 3 pass from Thad Lane (Josh Borm kick), 12:24
CC-Dustin Rinker 1 run (Smith kick), 7:54
RUSHING: DSU, Kaler Ray 5-20, Jesse Carney 18-13, Jake Hardy 2-8, Zach Sandau 3-5, Wyatt Mirich 1-(minus 1). CC, Dustin Rinker 22-165, Dakota Stonehouse 10-88, Jordan Pine 10-50, Mac Roche 1-1, Sean Blomquist 1-1, Antony Clarke 1-1.
PASSING: DSU, Thad Lane 4-4-54, Kaler Ray 5-17-43. Totals 9-21-97. CC, Stonehouse 11-16-152.
RECEIVING: DSU, JT Keith 7-83, Mirich 1-15, Carney 1-(minus 1). CC, Clarke 4-69, Kyle Griffith 4-54, Blomquist 1-18, Nate Hinrichs 1-7, Dylan Simac 1-4.