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Hawks look to strike early against MSU

Dickinson State football coach Hank Biesiot shakes his head in disappointment when a few unpleasant statistics are rattled off about his team. The veteran coach knows changes must be made when a team loses three games by eight or less points and ...

Dickinson State football coach Hank Biesiot shakes his head in disappointment when a few unpleasant statistics are rattled off about his team.

The veteran coach knows changes must be made when a team loses three games by eight or less points and is outscored a combined 39-0 in the first quarter of those losses.

Biesiot also knows if the Blue Hawks want to be successful today against Minot State, they need to get on the board early.

"We're going to have to use the first quarter," Biesiot said. "We've got to take their shot in the first quarter and try to give one to ourselves."

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Whitney Stadium.

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Last week, Black Hills State came out strong and punched the Blue Hawks in the mouth, building a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

"We'd been putting ourselves in a hole and trying to battle back and it happened again," Blue Hawks senior linebacker Brenner Flaten said.

The Blue Hawks have converted only 28 percent of their third-down plays this season and the same was the case last week in their 28-20 loss to the Yellowjackets in their Dakota Athletic Conference opener.

"We had the old dance routine: One, two, three, kick," Biesiot said. "That was telling for the ball game."

Although Minot State has also struggled offensively, Biesiot said there's no reason to think the Blue Hawks can be complacent early.

"We can't go into the ball game in a similar situation and get knocked back on our heels like we did last week," Biesiot said.

Despite the Blue Hawks going through one of their toughest months in recent history, Minot State coach Mike Sivertson isn't swayed by their 1-3 record.

"They've lost three close games," Sivertson said. "You can't get too hung up on what you did the week before. We're going to have to come and play extremely well and hope the ball bounces our way a little bit."

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Minot State, which is also 1-3 overall, won its first game of the season last week with a 30-0 victory against South Dakota Tech in its DAC opener.

The Beavers' balanced offense worked like a well-oiled machine for the first time since Week 1, when it lost to Rocky Mountain College 27-23.

Beavers senior running back Neil Graham won DAC offensive player of the week honors after rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown.

Senior running back Manny Gutierrez added 105 yards on 23 carries. Regent native and redshirt freshman quarterback Jon Meier started his first game and went 11 of 15 for 82 yards passing and two touchdowns.

"It's real important for our team, particularly our offense, to have a balance," Sivertson said.

Dickinson State outscored Black Hills State 28-7 after the first quarter, but had just 211 total yards of offense and 45 rushing yards.

Biesiot said he's uncertain why the Blue Hawks are performing poorly in the first quarter and turning up the juice later.

"They're coming out ready to play," he said. "Sometimes you talk about it and maybe we have talked too much and press a little too hard and something doesn't go right."

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Flaten agreed with his coach.

"I think our intensity level is where it needs to be," Flaten said. "We're doing little things we should be doing without even thinking and we're doing those things wrong."

The Blue Hawks have the chance to get back on the winning track against the Beavers and Biesiot said he knows how they need to do it.

"You've got to look for some first downs first," Biesiot said. "Some mini-drives instead of thinking you've got to score in a hurry."

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