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Rocky dominates Blue Hawks, 45-7

Press Photo by Royal McGregor

It was a nightmare from the first snap of the Frontier Conference football game.

The Dickinson State football team was stunned from the beginning Saturday afternoon, losing hard again to Rocky Mountain College 45-7 at the Biesiot Activities Center.

The last time the teams met, the Blue Hawks lost 56-23. In both games, they started off slow -- the kiss of death for trying to get back into the game.

Rocky’s defense played their same physical game and held DSU to just one rushing yard on 13 carries and two first downs in the first half.

“We just didn’t run the ball. We only had one yard rushing in the first half, and if you look at the first half stats, it’s kind of the ballgame,” DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said. “You just have to move it better than that. It’s the second week in a row we haven’t done that. … Their defense had something to do with it, they looked like a good football team today and we didn’t. That’s probably it in a nutshell.”

In the first half, the Bears dominated and scored on every drive they had. With good field position, Rocky’s first touchdown was a four-play drive over 35 yards on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Bryce Baker to receiver Andre McCullouch. Baker had another statistically strong game, going 14 of 23 with 138 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think we have some pretty good athletes out there and try to give them space and let them do what they do best, and they did a pretty good job of that today,” Rocky head coach Brian Armstrong said.

The only success the Blue Hawks’ defense had in the first half was holding Rocky to a 22-yard field goal on its second drive of the game.

“We just need to come out the first quarter better,” said DSU sophomore outside linebacker Matt McCoy, who had five tackles and two sacks. “We need more intensity coming out of the locker room. I think if we started out better, it might have went a different way, but we came out lackadaisical and paid the price for it.”

Ray said his offense’s poor performance negatively affected DSU’s defense by leaving them on the field too long and not giving them enough chances.

“I always feel like in games like these, the defense doesn’t do as bad as it looks. It’s because the offense doesn’t set them up with good position or things like that,” Ray said. “Offense can really screw over the defense and we did that today.”

DSU’s offense finished with six first downs, 53 yards rushing and 226 total yards. Ray went 6 of 15 for 96 yards and threw two interceptions.

In the second quarter, DSU had a pair of offensive firsts.

With less than 9 minutes left, sophomore quarterback Thad Lane came in and got his team’s first first down on a pass to sophomore receiver Wyatt Mirich with 7:23 remaining.

On third-and-8, Rocky’s defense broke through the offensive line, forcing Lane to scramble and throw downfield to Josh Borm, who took the 56-yard catch into the end zone for the Blue Hawks’ only scoring play.

“Josh did a really good job of that today,” Lane said. “I’ve played with him for a long time and he’s always been a guy that I could throw to. I was about to get hit and I had a lot of faith in my receiver and was able to throw one up to him, and he was able to make a play.”

Since the beginning of the season, DSU has lost several players to injury and Saturday was no exception. On the already-thin offensive line, sophomore guard Lane Millay and sophomore center Meyer Bohn went down with injuries. Another possible loss was senior left guard Nick Yelton, who was helped off the field in the first half with a sprained knee. While he was able to get back in the game, Biesiot said his status is unknown.

The biggest loss for the Blue Hawks was junior receiver JT Keith.

With 1:19 left in the first quarter, Keith caught a 48-yard pass from Ray but was hit and fumbled the football. On the hit, Keith suffered an AC separation in his shoulder. He is out indefinitely.

“Losing him is kind of big,” xxxxxx said. “He’s definitely a deep threat which can open up things underneath more. We still got a lot of guys that are capable of doing exactly what JT’s done.”

The Blue Hawks’ schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as they travel LaGrande, Ore., to play Eastern Oregon at 1 p.m. Saturday.

DSU players said they are looking forward to the new week and a fresh start.

“It was easy to tell we were getting frustrated,” Ray said. “But we just got to keep our heads on straight, keep thinking about the next drive or the next play.”

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.