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On to the next one: Titans beat Lakers in quarterfinals

Junior quarterback Aric Knopik hands the ball off to freshman running back Nathaniel Jilek against Des Lacs-Burlington on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 2
Senior lineman Jacob Kubas tackles Des Lacs-Burlington junior running back Caleb Bonness on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 2

The Dickinson Trinity football team continues to do what they do best: win.

The Titans defeated Des Lacs-Burlington 40-0 on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Biesiot Activities Center, earning a trip to the Class A semifinals.

The first offensive series for each team hinted at a close, defensive game, but the Titans soon found their groove, recording their sixth shutout of the season.

"On the defensive side of the ball, when you've got 11 guys doing their job and doing what they're supposed to do, you're going to have success," head coach John Odermann said. "Being able to shut down a quality offense like Des Lacs-Burlington says a lot about what we can do."

The Titans almost didn't get the shutout, though.

After senior wide receiver Alec Sickler caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Aric Knopik with 2 minutes and 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Lakers returned the kick inside the Titan's 20 yard line.

Back in his first game since breaking his collarbone against Bowman County, Sickler came up big, intercepting the ball the next play.

"I dropped that first (touchdown pass) and coach was like 'we're going to get you another one,'" Sickler said. "That was about it. I made sure I caught that one. For the defensive play, I made sure I made the read. We just wanted that shutout."

The Titans leaned towards passing the ball rather than running after getting their first look at the Lakers defense. Knopik found senior Ulises Franco for the first touchdown of the game with 5:52 left in the first quarter.

Knopik ran in the next two with rushes of 16 and 11 yards.

Knopik completed 10 of his 15 throws for 148 yards and rushed 72 yards on the day. He also threw his first two interceptions of the year.

"He's developed into a really nice quarterback," Odermann said. "We're really excited about what he can do with his legs but also what he can do with his arm. We haven't had to win a lot of games with our quarterback's arm but the past couple we have."

With the clock ticking in the first half, the Lakers were determined to score, running play after play without a huddle. On the last play of the half, Trinity senior lineman Jacob Kubas sacked DLB quarterback Dante Gunville, stripping him of the ball. Senior lineman Logan Karsky picked it up, and ran half the field for a touchdown, bringing the Titans lead to 26-0 at halftime.

"I was pretty gassed after that," Karsky said. "I've never puked in the middle of the field before. The ball just bounced up and landed right in my chest. I just ran from there."

Even after his big run, Karsky and his linemates stood strong, holding off the Lakers in the second half.

Gunville found receivers in some big drives for the Lakers. Senior Jacob Ruden finished the afternoon with 44 yards over two catches and senior Joshua Knutson had 34 yards over two receptions. On the ground, junior running back Caleb Bonness led the Lakers with 14 yards over 12 carries.

"It doesn't matter what that other team does," Odermann said. "We just need to execute our game plan and play Titan football. Titan football has turned into what it used to be. It's get on the line and play man football."

Dickinson Trinity 40, Des Lacs-Burlington 0

T 7 19 7 7 — 40

DLB 0 0 0 0 — 0

First quarter

T — Ulises Franco 11 pass from Aric Knopik (Jayden Dolechek kick), 5:52

Second quarter

T — Knopik 16 rush (PAT no good), 6:52

T — Knopik 11 rush (PAT no good), 1:55

T — Logan Karsky forced fumble recovery 52 rush (Dolechek kick), 0:00

Third quarter

T — Noah Sickler 14 pass from Knopik (Dolechek kick), 8:55

Fourth quarter

T — Alec Sickler 6 pass from Knopik (Dolechek kick), 2:10

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: T, Nathaniel Jilek 20-80, Aric Knopik 12-72 2 TD, Joe Bates 12-56. DLB, Caleb Bonness 12-14, Colton Miller-Boyd 1-10, Tyson Akers 1-6, Dante Gunville 6-2.

PASSING: T, Aric Knopik 10-15-2 148 yards, 3 TD. DLB, Dante Gunville 10-20-1 106 yards.

RECEIVING: T, Noah Sickler 3-59 1 TD, Ulises Franco 3-43 1 TD, Sean Volesky 1-19, Easton Walby 1-13, Nathaniel Jilek 1-8, Alec Sickler 1-6 1 TD. DLB, Jacob Ruden 2-44, Joshua Knutson 2-34, Tyson Akers 2-18.

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