Montana Tech hands DSU third straight loss, 42-6
A special Saturday at Dickinson State was a forgettable one for the Blue Hawk football team.
DSU had four turnovers, three of which led to Montana Tech points, and the No. 13-ranked Orediggers rode a 24-point second quarter and quarterback Nick Baker's three first-half touchdown passes to a 42-6 Frontier Conference win on the day the Badlands Activities Center stadium was renamed the Henry Biesiot Activities Center in honor of DSU's longtime and current head football coach.
It was DSU's third consecutive loss and dropped their overall and conference record to 1-5. The Blue Hawks have been outscored 129-19 in those losses, the most lopsided three-game losing streak in Biesiot's 37 seasons as the team's coach.
"From the head coach down, we were hoping for more," said Biesiot, who was honored in a ceremony after the game. "We didn't get enough from that guy or anybody in between him and the freshmen. You've got to get better at that."
The Orediggers made a three-point game a blowout in the second quarter, scoring 24 unanswered points to take a 33-6 halftime lead. They converted six of their eight third downs in the second quarter.
Baker, who had 188 yards passing, capped a quick opening drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Alec Bray and hit him again from nine yards out on a third down in the second quarter to push Montana Tech's lead to 16-6. He later found James Roberts on a 10-yard TD pass to make it 26-6.
"I thought we came out pretty good," said DSU junior outside linebacker Cord Berg, who had eight tackles. "We were hanging with them for a while. They got a few big plays on us. That ripple effect again. Once they got a big play we got a little rattled and just couldn't recover from it."
Montana Tech sophomore running back Pat Hansen, an Ekalaka, Mont., native, capped the scoring barrage with a 1-yard TD run with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter after the Orediggers set up a short field with their second of two blocked punts.
The Orediggers blocked a Kyle Sanders punt into the end zone early in the first quarter, which went out of bounds for a safety after no one could fall on it.
"I'm very proud of them to get some points on the board and capitalize on some of the plays we made on special teams," Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell said.
With both starting quarterback Dave Velasquez and leading rusher Myren Moore sidelined with injuries -- among other regular starters -- DSU had its struggles offensively and squandered opportunities early.
Brady Harkless intercepted a Baker pass -- the freshman safety's third in as many games -- to set up a 14-play, 56-yard drive that ended in a 37-yard missed field goal by freshman Chad Bryant.
DSU's next offensive series started at the Orediggers' 35 after a shanked punt.
Sophomore quarterback Matt Harkless' 23-yard scramble run put DSU at the 12. Three plays later, the backup-turned-starter threw an interception right into the hands of Montana Tech sophomore linebacker Tommy Peterson on a rollout.
DSU's lone big play of the afternoon came on its next series, a 63-yard touchdown pass from Matt Harkless to senior receiver Tanner Leak. Leak had three catches for 87 yards and moved into the No. 4 spot on DSU's all-time receiving yards chart.
It was an up-and-down day for the first-time starting quarterback.
Montana Tech sacked Matt Harkless four times. His backup, freshman Thad Lane, went down once in the fourth quarter. Matt Harkless was 8 of 18 for 121 yards passing. Lane was 6 of 11 for 47 yards.
"They brought a lot of twist blitzes that caught us off guard," he said. "They didn't start it until the second quarter. Once they started bringing them, they hit it every time. They were a good, fast team."
The Blue Hawks struggled to keep drives alive. They were 4 of 19 on third-down conversions.
They lost yards or didn't gain a yard on a 10 third downs and had two third-down turnovers, including on the final play of the game when Orediggers linebacker Joe Mitzel took a Zach Sandau fumble 55 yards for a touchdown.
"Again, we aren't maintaining," Biesiot said. "We've got to get a few more first downs at key parts of the game. We missed a couple third and shorts and they hit some third and longs."
The only other time in Biesiot's tenure as head coach that DSU started a season 1-5 was 2007 when the Blue Hawks began the year 1-6 and finished 3-7. They responded to that by winning the next three Dakota Athletic Conference titles.
A loss against former DAC rival Jamestown College next Saturday in the Blue Hawks' lone nonconference game of the season would ensure only the fourth losing season in Biesiot's career.
"I don't think anybody has quit," Matt Harkless said. "But I believe, our team, we come out and play just as hard every week and we've improved every week since the start."
Biesiot said now it's the coaches' task to rally the team and respond.
"Nobody said it's going to be easy, so we'll see how they bounce back," Biesiot said. "It's our job as coaches to bounce back."
MT 9 24 3 6 -- 42
DSU 6 0 0 0 -- 6
MT-Alec Bray 28 pass from Nick Baker (Matt Berg kick), 13:21
MT-Safety, punt blocked out of end zone, 11:48
DSU-Tanner Leak 63 pass from Matt Harkless (kick failed), :13
MT-Bray 9 pass from Baker (Berg kick), 10:32
MT-Berg 32 FG, 6:43
MT-James Roberts 10 pass from Baker (Berg kick), 2:37
MT-Pat Hansen 1 run (Berg kick), :31
MT-Berg 36 FG, 2:26
H-Joe Mitzel 55 fumble recovery, :00.
TEAM STATISTICS MT DSU
First downs 22 14
Rushes-yards 42-180 44-70
Passing yards 214 168
Comp.-Att.-Int. 23-33-1 14-29-1
Total yards 394 238
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-35 0-0
Punts-Avg. 6-31 9-29
RUSHING: MT, Hansen 20-82, Taylor Rowe 8-49, Brian Schwarzkopf 1-21, Dominique Watson 1-15, Ryan Guelff 3-9, Baker 4-3, Trent Thomas 2-3, Zack Kinney 2-(minus-2). DSU, Presley Straub 21-66, M. Harkless 14-19, Zach Sandau 3-12, Kyle Stanton 1-2, Leak 1-2, Thad Lane 1-(minus-12), Kyle Sanders 2-(minus-19).
PASSING: MT, Baker 22-30-1 188, Schwarzkopf 1-3-0 26. DSU, M. Harkless 8-18-1 121, Lane 6-11-0 47.
RECEIVING: MT, Bray 5-62, Thomas 4-39, Kinney 4-29, James Roberts 3-45, Leif Knatterud 2-11, Braxton Lucero 2-8, Schwarzkopf 1-10, Hansen 1-8, Watson 1-2. DSU, Jimmy Smith 5-53, Leak 3-87, Nate Zachmann 2-14, Cody Clausen 1-8, Straub 1-6, Wyatt Mirich 1-4, Sandau 1-(minus-4).
TACKLES (solo-assist-total): MT, Niall Padden 4-5-9, David Meis 4-4-8, Mike Waldman 1-7-8, Joe Semansky 3-36, Nathan Kobold 3-2-5, Tyler Denny 3-1-4, Jacob Workman 2-2-4. DSU, Jay Grosz 7-4-11, Brady Harkless 8-1-9, Nolan Schwartz 7-2-9, Cord Berg 4-4-8, Jordan Moore 4-4-8, Kyle Watson 3-3-6, Matt McCoy 2-4-6, Colton Hill 2-3-5, Mike Fisher 1-3-4, Cameron Hughes 2-1-3, Shawn Alder 1-2-3, Mattt Seibert 1-1-2, Stephen Spitulski 1-1-2, Dalmin Gibson 1-0-1, James Stanton 1-0-1, Collin Baumgart 0-1-1.
SACKS: MT, Workman 1.5, Padden 1, Semansky 1, Nate Thompson 1, Meis .5. DSU, Berg 1, Watson 1, Spitulski 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: MT, Tommy Peterson 1. DSU, B. Harkless 1.
BLOCKED PUNTS: MT, James Roberts 1, Craig Halko 1. DSU, none.
FORCED FUMBLES: MT, none. DSU, Jay Grosz 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: MT, Mitzel 1. DSU, Shawn Alder 1.