Dickinson State Blue Hawks' offense sparks win over Dakota State at Fargodome
FARGO -- Just because Dickinson State held a firm grasp of the lead, that didn’t mean DSU couldn’t win in style.
Blue Hawks running back Tray Boone jumped, then flipped into the end zone for a fourth quarter touchdown to put the game out of reach. The No. 24-ranked Blue Hawks defeated Dakota (S.D.) State 49-30 Sunday in the NSAA Bowl in the Fargodome.
Before the play, Boone was told by his teammates that he needed to score, and he took it to heart.
“Alright, by any means necessary I’m going to get in,” Boone said. “I jumped, then once I was in the air I knew I had to land on my feet. I just hope I’m in the endzone when I land and that’s how it worked out.”
The win plays a pivotal role in the Blue Hawks’ season. Even though they won the NSAA and are nationally ranked, they need to be in the top 20 by next week’s poll to make the playoffs. Dakota State was the only team in the NSAA to beat Dickinson State — a 54-21 decision Oct. 17 in Madison, S.D. — this season. The matchup was made with the hopes of proving to NAIA coaches that Dickinson State should be voted as one of the top 20 teams.
“It’s out of our hands now,” Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. “We did our job, and we’ll gather next week and be ready, but whatever happens, happens.”
The Blue Hawks (8-2, 5-1 NSAA) saw offensive contributions from all over, but Boone set the pace. The junior ran for 186 yards on 24 carries to lead Dickinson State, which ended the day with 273 rushing yards and 469 total yards.
The Blue Hawks’ quarterbacks played a key role, too. Rob Sterling started the game under center and didn’t disappoint. After Boone’s tackle-breaking 48-yard TD run on the Blue Hawks’ opening possession, Sterling threw a gorgeous pass to wide receiver Austin Brown to lift Dickinson State to a 14-0 lead early on.
But Trojans quarterback Jacob Giles responded with an equally impressive pass to wide receiver Brendon Waldner for a 34-yard score on the following possession.
“We knew they were a good team and it was going to take a battle,” Dakota State head coach Josh Anderson said. “We didn’t capitalize and make big plays when we needed to, and we didn’t stop big plays when we needed to.”
Then Blue Hawks backup quarterback Kaler Ray came in and did his damage. He started with a screen pass to wide receiver Jamion Lindsey, who took it 53 yards for a touchdown.
“That makes my job really easy, to throw a pass 8 yards, watch a couple linemen run in front and then it goes,” Ray said. “That’s fun.”
Because Sterling was needed at defensive back when safety Awa Poggi went down with a knee injury and fellow safety Robert Nalewaja was out with a shoulder injury, Ray stayed at quarterback.
“We lost a few of our best players, but we weathered the storm,” Stanton said. “Our guys did a good job of coming back, playing good defense and holding them at bay. I’m just really happy with how we played offensively.”
In the second quarter, Ray threw another screen, this one to wide receiver Josh Perry-Kruse for an 18-yard TD.
Dakota State scored 10 unanswered points with a 29-yard Nic Behrens field goal and a Hagan Hines 22-yard TD run.
“I think our intensity was fantastic,” Anderson said, “but we just didn’t execute when we need to. Those little things make a difference when two good teams are playing each other.”
But the Blue Hawk defense responded when linebacker Devin Martin stripped a Trojan of the football and defensive back Matt VandeBossche came up with one of the Blue Hawks’ three fumble recoveries.
Forty seconds later, Ray lofted a pass up for wide receiver Seth Ewoniuk, who snagged the pass over the Dakota State defender and kept his feet in bounds for a 24-yard score.
Ray’s next touchdown pass came in the third quarter after Dakota State’s Jared Richardson punched in a 7-yard touchdown. On the next possession, Ray simply tossed it up to Brown, who made a wild catch in the end zone over a defender to give the Blue Hawks a 42-24 lead.
“I threw that into double coverage and coach probably won’t be too happy about that,” Ray said with a smile. “But he made it look good. He’s a good player.”
Then Boone made his own wild play with his second touchdown of the day on an acrobatic flip.
“The thing is that that goes through your mind is just try to land on your feet, that’s it,” Boone said. “Stick it. That’s what I did I guess, I just sticked the landing.”
The Blue Hawks do not have another scheduled game, though the NAIA has another week of games. If Dickinson State earns a top-20 ranking this week and keeps it going into next week, the Blue Hawks season will continue in the playoffs.
“Regardless, we’re happy with today’s performance,” Ray said. “Whether it was the seniors’ last day or not, it was a good one for them.”
Dickinson State 49, Dakota State 30
Di.SU — Tray Boone 48 run (Colten Johnston pass from Dalton Reid)
Di.SU — Austin Brown 29 pass from Rob Sterling (kick failed)
Da.SU — Brendon Waldner 33 pass from Jacob Giles (Nic Behrens kick)
Di.SU — Jamion Lindsey 53 pass from Kaler Ray (Josh Perry-Kruse kick)
Di.SU — Perry-Kruse 18 pass from Ray (Perry-Kruse kick)
Da.SU — Behrens 24 field goal
Da.SU — Hagan Hines 22 run (Behrens kick)
Di.SU — Seth Ewoniuk 23 pass from Ray (Perry-Kruse kick)
Da.SU — Robert Johnson 7 run (Behrens kick)
Di.SU — Brown 31 pass from Ray (Perry-Kruse kick)
Di.SU — Boone 2 run (Perry-Kruse kick)
Da.SU — Johnson 6 run (pass failed)
Rushing: Da.SU, Jeremy Christner 19-121, Johnson 13-76, Hines 5-42, Giles 6-41. Di.SU, Boone 24-186, Ray 15-36, Sterling 3-22, Jake Hardy 4-14, Ewoniuk 2-12, Riley Moore 1-0, Luke Schwagler 1-0.
Passing: Da.SU, Giles 13-24-0 113 yards; Justin Summers 1-5-1 32 yards. Di.SU, Ray 9-15-0 167 yards; Sterling 1-2-0 29 yards.
Receiving: Da.SU, Waldner 4-66, Doug Hale 4-22, Austin Opdahl 3-40, Preston Nordling 2-17, Bobby Tisch 1-0. Di.SU, Perry-Kruse 3-26, Lindsey 2-64, Brown 2-60, Ewoniuk 1-23, Chase Andersen 1-13, Shad Stanford 1-10.
TACKLES: Da.SU, Ben Kullos 14, Bronson Arguello 8, Cole Potter 7, Tyler Poggemeyer 6, Cooper Hausmann 4, Ridge Lindberg 4, Thomas Romack 3, Hunter Smith 3, Eric Wahl 3, Dereck DeVries 2, Danny Jordan 2, Eric Tieszen 2, Jason Grady 1, Ayson Jones 1, Trever Listman 1, Dan Ngandali 1, Tyrell Smith 1. Di.SU, Jay Liggins 8, Devin Martin 7, Cain Boschee 7, Mark Angvick 5, Matt McCoy 4, Matthew VandeBossche 4, Thomas Sease 3, Robert Nalewaja 3, Noey Tauave 3, Awa Poggi 3, Sterling 3, Sefa Fatu 3, Mitch Mehrer 2, Noceh Nwofor 2, Trey Howard, 1, Johnston 1, Steven Koch 1, Schwagler 1, David Spinner 1, Colby Wartman 1, Brian Cronnelly 1, Michael Hernandez 1.
SACKS: Da.SU, Kullos 1.5, Potter 2, Wahl 1.5. DiSU, Fatu 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Da.SU, none. Di.SU, Boschee 1.