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Blue Hawks come close to quarterfinal victory, Coyotes come from behind to win

SALINA, Kan. -- With seven and a half minutes left to play in the NAIA quarterfinal, Kansas Wesleyan got the ball back for what would could have been the last time. Up five points thanks to a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Tyger Frye, Dickin...

SALINA, Kan. - With seven and a half minutes left to play in the NAIA quarterfinal, Kansas Wesleyan got the ball back for what would could have been the last time. Up five points thanks to a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Tyger Frye, Dickinson State ultimately just had to make a stop to have the win in hand.

Utilizing every offensive weapon they had, the Coyotes pushed down the field. League-leading junior running back Demarco Prewitt found the endzone, but an illegal shift put Kansas Wesleyan back to the 8-yard line, giving Dickinson State a second chance.

With 50 seconds remaining, the tired-yet-determined Blue Hawks defenders lined up again, fighting for their season. But once again, Prewitt broke through from five yards out. Following a successful two-point conversion, the Coyotes went on top 43-40 with just 46 seconds left to play.

While the Blue Hawk came away with a first down after a couple successful clock-stopping passes to the sideline, a penalty followed by an interception halted the drive and sealed the win.

"Defensively, we just couldn't get off on fourth down. Credit to them, they go for it on fourth down. We played hard, we were in pretty good position," Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. "They made some plays. They had a couple guys really make some plays."

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Junior quarterback Johnny Feauto threw 241 yards, completing 16 of his 31 passes. Prewitt ended the day with three touchdowns and 185 yards on the ground over 34 carries. His longest haul was a 54-yard dash to the end zone to open the scoring.

"Tremendous effort by our guys. I think all year long, I'm just really proud of how hard our guys play. That was evident again today. We played very hard. We had a ton of opportunities to win the game and put ourselves in that position," Stanton said. "They put together a couple good drives in the second half."

If a few things had gone differently, the Blue Hawks would be walking away with a win. Most prominently, if a field goal attempt in the third hadn't been blocked, the game would have been tied.

After catching his second touchdown pass midway through the fourth, Frye drew a flag for celebrating, pushing the conversion attempt to the 18-yard line, which they missed. If Dickinson State had earned those two extra points, the game could have been different. Additionally, if the Blue Hawks got their hands on a pair of fumbled punt returns, maybe it would have been different.

"It's just one of those things where they made one more play. You can go back on a game like that and you can beat yourself up thinking about 20 more plays that could have won you the game," Stanton said. "That's life too, you play as hard as you can, you give it your best effort and you do it with class. That happens. Sometimes it doesn't go in your favor. They made one more play than we made and that's basically what it came down to."

While the Dickinson State offense couldn't pull off a last-minute miraculous drive to end the game, they did before the half.

With 33 seconds left before the break, Prewitt found the purple-painted end zone for the second time with a 5-yard rush.

Once the Blue Hawks got the ball back, junior quarterback Hayden Gibson, who threw 22-for-33 with one interception, hurled a gorgeous throw to wide receiver stand-in Jay Liggins. The Bismarck native made the catch before capping the drive with an impressive snag in the end zone with no time left on the clock. The Blue Hawks led 28-21 at the half, holding all the momentum.

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"Right before the half, the plan was as long as the kick return was okay, we were going to take a couple shots because we had all of our timeouts," Stanton said. "We hit two short routes and then go the big play over the top. We were in good shape. We decided right at the end, rather than kicking the field goal, we'd take a chance and throw Jay the ball there. He ended up making a great catch."

The Blue Hawks offense thrived on long passes and big plays, tying the game at seven with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Frye with 11:08 left to play. That drive was the second-quickest of the game, clocking in at two plays and 49 seconds. Gibson also threw a 54-yard beauty to sophomore Jaret Lee who scored to give the Blue Hawks a 34-28 advantage with 1:37 left in the third.

To go ahead 21-14 in the second quarter, Amad Andrews Jr. scored back-to-back rushing touchdowns, the second set up by an interception by senior safety Cain Boschee, which he ran to the Coyotes 33-yard line. The pick was his fifth this year and the 24th of his career, tying the Dickinson State record set by Rocky Hanson who played from 1988-90.

Also highlighting the stat sheet, was Gibson, who broke his own record for passing yards in a game with 380 on the day. In a contest against Mayville State last year, he threw for 353.

"Hayden was solid all day long and really stood in the pocket and took some shots. He's our leader out there and did a good job of getting the ball out," Stanton said. "He was hurting. His back was hurting pretty good but he hung in there and made some great throws. ... Then Cain's just had a remarkable career for us. What he's done for us, to go through a career with 24 interceptions and that many (seven) returned (for touchdowns). It's just been a tremendous, tremendous career."

Results Saturday

No. 6 Kansas Wesleyan 43, Dickinson State 40

DSU 7 21 6 6 - 40

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KWU 14 7 7 15 - 43

First Quarter

KWU - Demarco Prewitt 54 rush (Jhonatan Morales kick), 11:57

DSU - Tyger Frye 72 pass from Hayden Gibson (Cody Johnson kick), 11:08

KWU - Charlie Simmons 41 pass from Johnny Feauto (Morales kick), 3:17

Second Quarter

DSU - Amad Andrews Jr. 8 rush (Johnson kick), 11:08

DSU - Andrews Jr. 6 rush (Johnson kick), 7:29

KWU - Prewitt 5 rush (Morales kick), 0:33

DSU - Jay Liggins 6 pass from Gibson (Johnson kick), 0:00

Third Quarter

KWU - KC Carr 6 rush (Morales kick), 3:35

DSU - Jaret Lee 54 pass from Gibson (PAT no good), 1:37

Fourth Quarter

KWU - Marquez Gilmore 11 pass from Feauto (Morales kick), 10:51

DSU - Frye 15 pass from Gibson (PAT no good), 7:35

KWU - Prewitt 5 rush (Simmons from Feauto), 0:46

TEAM STATISTICS DSU KWU

First downs 18 26

Rushes-yards 24-51 53-254

Passing yards 380 241

Comp.-Att.-Int. 22-30-1 16-31-1

Total yards 431 495

Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 4-45 6-57

Punts-Avg. 4-47.5 4-47.8

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: KWU, Prewitt 34-185, 3 TDs; Feauto 13-52; Carr 3-16, TD. DSU, Andrews Jr. 16-55, 2 TDs; Derek Tabor 2-9.

PASSING: KWU, Feauto 16-31-1, 241 yards, 2 TDs. DSU, Gibson 22-20-1, 380 yards, 4 TDs.

RECEIVING: KWU, Simmons 8-118, TD; Prewitt 4-30; Gilmore 2-19, TD. DSU, Frye 5-159, 2 TDs; Lee 4-96, TD; Randy Ivey 7-72; Liggins 2-41, TD; Seth Moerkerke 1-7; Jordan Walker 1-6.

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

TACKLES: KWU, Warren Singletary 5-5, 2 TFL; Rashaan Broomfield 6-0; Jasper Chavez 3-1. DSU, Daniel Moreno 7-5, 1.5 TFL; Kevin Brown 7-3, 1.5 TFL; Jalen Hendrickson 8-0; Derick VandeBossche 4-4.

INTERCEPTIONS: KWU, Takota Anderson 1-11. DSU, Cain Boschee 1-28.

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