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DSU looking for revenge against Rocky

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State sophomore linebacker Jordan Moore, left, picks off a pass intended for a University of Jamestown receiver on Oct. 5 at the Biesiot Activities Center.

Of all the games this season, the Dickinson State football team has been looking forward to today’s the most.

The Blue Hawks (1-7) host Rocky Mountain College (4-2) at the Biesiot Activities Center at 1 p.m. and have a chip on their shoulder. After a 56-23 beat down by the Bears in Billings, Mont., on Sept. 7, DSU is looking to redeem themselves and prove what kind of a program they are.

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“I’m kind of looking forward to it,” head coach Hank Biesiot said. “I know we aren’t the team that we played out there, so this is a fun chance for our guys to take the test again and see how far we’ve come and show them that we’re not the team that we played that afternoon.”

In the opening minute of the first quarter, Rocky senior outside linebacker Travis Bertelsen set the tone for the rest of the game by returning an interception 30 yards for a touchdown. In the second and third quarters, the Bears scored 35 unanswered points and recorded 552 yards of total offense. Quarterbacks Kaler Ray and Thad Lane went 5 of 11 with a TD pass and 2 of 10 with two interceptions respectively.

Since week two, the early season jitters have fled and DSU has faced more conference opponents which have prepared them for this rematch.

“Our entire team is really looking forward to it because we are a different team than we were that week,” Ray said. “We’ve all gotten a lot better and I think we are eager to see how well we can execute and play against these guys round two.”

Team chemistry for the Hawks has improved since the beginning of the season. With the team being young and inexperienced, it took a few weeks for the players to learn how to play with each other and, due to some injuries, have players step up early into leadership positions. 

“We’ve grown a lot,” sophomore outside linebacker Matt McCoy said. “We’ve gotten better with our checks and everyone is playing better with each other and knowing where everybody is going to be on the field, which is going to help a bunch. We’ve grown a lot as a defense.”

Rocky Mountain is known for its speedy offense, pro-sized defense and offensive line and their talented junior quarterback Bryce Baker. Baker has completed over 70 percent of his passes (161-227), has 15 touchdown passes and averages 299.4 yards per game.

Although the team prefers to run the ball, Baker has an abundance of talented receivers to choose from. Leading the receivers is sophomore Andre McCullouch who has 759 total yards, seven touchdowns and averages 108.4 yards a game.

“They’re blessed with some fast guys on the outside and they can run it when they want it,” Biesiot said. “It’s a well-balanced team and they have a quarterback who, when everything breaks down, can take the ball and take it 30, 40 yards for a score.”

Defensively, the Bears are huge, aggressive and veterans. At the linebacker position, Biesiot said “they like to grab you and beat you up,” by using its size and senior status to its advantage. Josh Johnson is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds and leads his team with 65 tackles, 31 of which are solo. As intimidating as the defense’s size is, Ray said this time around he and his offense know exactly what to expect from Rocky and to not get flustered.

“Right off the bat we’re expecting them to be physical, we’re expecting them to execute their plays properly,” Ray said. “We have a pretty good feeling what they’re going to run against us.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawks have to slow down Rocky’s fast-paced offense to be successful, which could be a tall order. What separates the Bears from any other Frontier Conference offense is their ability to control the speed of the game and slow it down when needed to throw teams off.

“We just got to play physical, all that it is,” McCoy said. “They like to get in the open space but we just got to come out and play physical and hopefully get a win.”

Ray added: “We just really want to prove we’re a different football team. And we are. Week two Blue Hawks are definitely different than week nine Blue Hawks. We know it, we just got to go out there and prove it. We got to execute, do the little things right and shock Rocky.”

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.