Rematch. The only word the Dickinson State football team cares about as they prepare to go on the road to “run it back” with Waldorf University, the team that the Blue Hawks nearly defeated in overtime earlier this season with a narrow 28-21 finish. But this game will be different. This time, Waldorf will be at home. This time, the fate of the season is on the line.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, one team will still have a chance at a playoff berth, for the other, it will mark the end of the season after week 11 on Nov. 9. Despite the No. 21 Blue Hawks pulling out the previous victory, it’s the No. 25 Warriors that may be favored on paper.
“Knowing that we (won) game one in overtime, I think in some ways you could say that we didn’t finish because we had a two-score lead in the fourth quarter but we did...they scored with three seconds left (in the fourth) to get it into (overtime), but four minutes earlier we were up 21-7...Even though they had a couple big plays, in which they are capable of, our guys did a good job of finishing (in overtime,)” head coach Pete Stanton said.
Despite the Blue Hawks defeating the Warriors five of their last six meetings coming into Saturday, the Warriors are ready to de-throne the defending four consecutive NSAA title champions. Both Waldorf and Dickinson State are coming into the game with a 6-2 overall, 4-2 NSAA standings but the stats are more in favor of the Vikings.
Team stats-wise, the category in which Dickinson State leads the NSAA is in scoring offense per game, averaging 35 points-per-game. However, Waldorf is in second nearly scoring 32 ppg. The Warriors then lead nearly every other category both offensively and defensively in the division besides punt returns per game, in which they placed second behind Valley City.
In total offensive yards, the Warriors lead the Blue Hawks 3527-3100, the Warriors have a heavy advantage over the Blue Hawks in passing with 2021 total yards to 1890. Despite the Blue Hawks averaging 387 yards-per-game, the Warriors currently average 440 yards-per-game. In their previous matchup the Warriors total offensive yards blew past the Blue Hawks with 403 total yards compared to Dickinson State’s 243.
The potential key question in this matchup will be: Which team has the better offensive duo matchup on the offensive duos of the quarterback and their running back?
For the Blue Hawks, seniors quarterback Hayden Gibson and running back Amad Jackson Jr. will be looking to have the same success they were able to produce in their previous matchup with Waldorf. Gibson ended with a 50% pass completion for a total of 163-yards for two touchdowns and one interception. For Andrews, he ended with 98-yards on 20 rushing attempts and one touchdown.
They will be going up against a strong Waldorf defense that leads the NSAA, only allowing 275.4 total yards-per-game and giving up 15.5 points-per-game. Senior linebacker Caleb Wilson will be leading the team, currently placed second in the NSAA with sacks with a total of 5.5 this season and recorded one sack and three tackles-for-loss in the teams prior meeting. Defensive backs Cameron Newsome and Macoy Yeakel will be looking to pick-off Gibson through the air, both lead the team with three interceptions this season. Newsome recorded Gibsons only thrown interception the previous time the two teams met.
For the Warriors, they will be led by senior quarterback Hilton Joseph and running back Jeff Jones, a transfer from the University of Minnesota. Both itching to get on the field Saturday afternoon. Joseph ended with a 35% pass completion of 154-yards for two touchdowns and one interception. As for Jones, he ended with 118-yards on 27 attempts for one touchdown and caught the ball four times for 62-yards and recorded a touchdown as well.
They will be matching up against a defense that is nearly as strong as the Warriors’, potentially better. Dickinson State is currently placed third in the NSAA behind Valley City and Waldorf by allowing 326 total yards-per-game and second behind the Warriors in scoring, only allowing 16.6 points-per-game. Sophomore Jared Smith will be leading the Blue Hawks defense, Smith currently leads the NSAA in sacks with 4.5 total, forcing a loss of 12.7-yards this season. Senior defensive back Derick VandeBossche will be ready to battle with Joseph once again, coming into the game with one of his two interceptions coming from their prior meeting in which he had a 50-yard touchdown return.
The stats may favor Waldorf, but it is still the Blue Hawks that tallied the victory at the end of round one. Now, in round two, both teams have everything to lose, everything to play for, nothing to hold back.
“I guess (there are) two ways of looking at it, if we take care of business (we win), and the other is it’s a playoff (game) and I think that’s our mindset...This is the start of the playoffs for us,” Stanton said.
Who will come out on top? The answer to that question will begin on Nov. 2 with a 12 p.m. scheduled kick-off.