Blue Hawks dominate Warriors to cap off regular season
A playoff berth awaits the Dickinson State football team.
That’s how many consecutive games the Blue Hawks have won in the North Star Athletic Association.
The streak dates back to Nov. 2, 2019 when DSU hit a late field goal to defeat Waldorf 30-28.
Fast forward to Nov. 13, 2021, where the Warriors and Blue Hawks met again in the final week of the regular season, with Waldorf looking to spoil DSU’s NAIA playoff hopes.
The last few matchups between the two have produced some great games, but this game was great for only one team, the Blue Hawks, as they dominated the Warriors 48-7 at Bolstorff Field in Forest City, Iowa.
Needing a win to stay alive for a playoff spot, DSU (8-0, 8-2) scored four touchdowns in the third quarter after leading 17-7 at halftime to fuel their victory. The lead was only ten points at halftime, but the Blue Hawks were confident in their cushion with Waldorf’s quarterback leaving the game in the second quarter due to injury.
"It was a big change," Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. "Although we were doing a good job on Cooper up to that point...it definitely made a difference. We're proud of the way the defense played all day long."
Waldorf's Sophomore quarterback Jordan Cooper got hurt on a sack early in the second quarter and would not return to the game. To add insult to injury, he fumbled the ball on the play to set up the DSU offense on Waldorf’s 31-yard line.
In addition to starting every game at quarterback this season for the Warriors (5-3, 7-3), Cooper had 462 yards on the ground so far, presenting a difficult task for the Blue Hawks defense.
It was 14-0 at the time of Cooper’s injury. DSU was only able to manage a field goal off the turnover, but arguably the Warriors’ best offensive player was out of the game.
In came the backup quarterback Luke Johnson, who didn’t possess the mobility that made Cooper a difficult matchup for the Blue Hawks’ defense. Despite this, Johnson engineered a touchdown drive towards the end of the half, lasting eight plays for 80 yards.
Coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, DSU hammered the Warriors with four touchdowns to extend their lead 45-7. Blue Hawks quarterback Drew Boedecker found three different receivers for a touchdown, with running back Riley Linder adding another on the ground.
“It was maybe the best third quarter we've played in a long time,” Stanton said. "On all three phases. We were excellent on defense and the offense had some big plays. We also ran the ball better than we have all year long. We played as well as we have in that quarter and were able to put them away."
It was a vastly different team than the one that started the game, scoring just one touchdown in the first quarter, which came on a special teams by accident.
Attempting a field goal at the eight-yard line, the kick holder Alec Lovegren fumbled the snap, and made a quick decision to run to his left, finding freshman wide receiver Colin Bowden for the touchdown. It was a broken play with a tremendous result that gave DSU a 7-0 lead.
“We were fortunate on that play,” Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. "Lovegren made a heck of a play. We had a bad snap, couldn't get it down and made something out of nothing...it was a huge play."
As the Blue Hawks built up their lead in the third quarter, Waldorf had no answer for the relentless pursuit of DSU’s defensive line, who feasted in the backfield all game long.
Their aggressive play up front led to 14 tackles for loss and five sacks as a team. Freshman linebacker Keaton Meschke had the most TFL with three, but 11 different defenders had at least half a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Senior defensive lineman Krew Mathern had a team-high two sacks.
“A great game by the front," Stanton said. "Led by Krew Mathern again, he's got a lot of energy and one of the better players in the conference. We had a good push up front, our linebackers tackled well. Other than the one drive we played very well defensively."
DSU held the Warriors to 146 yards of total offense on 2.9 yards per play. Waldorf had eight first downs compared to 24 for the Blue Hawks.
In addition to his passing touchdown, Lovegren led the team in rushing with 12 carries for 73 yards. Junior wide receiver Conor McCarvel had four catches for 99 yards, which included a 61-yard touchdown reception as part of the 28-point third quarter.
The Blue Hawks made sure to put any doubts of an upset win away in the third quarter as they completed their second consecutive undefeated season in the conference. This year they outscored NSAA opponents 366-85.
Their win will certainly lock up a playoff spot in the NAIA, having won the NSAA and currently being ranked 19th in the NAIA top 25 poll. A top 20 finish would be good enough to see the Blue Hawks extend their season.
“It's a great feeling knowing we played as well as we did,” Stanton said. "We put it together, knowing we had to win to get in the playoffs and our guys responded like we thought they would."
DSU will find out their playoff opponent Sunday evening.
DSU - 7 10 28 3, 48
WW - 0 7 0 0, 7
DSU - Colin Bowden 8 yard pass from Alec Lovegren (extra point good), 7-0
DSU - Riley Linder 2 yard run (extra point good), 14-0
DSU - Jace Johnson 22 yard field goal, 17-0
WW - Taye Buchanan 7 yard run (extra point good), 17-7
DSU - Linder 5 yard run (extra point good), 24-7
DSU - Kaden Kuntz 7 yard pass from Drew Boedecker (extra point good), 31-7
DSU - Conor McCarvel 61 yard pass from Boedecker (extra point good), 38-7
DSU - Tyger Frye 29 yard pass from Boedecker (extra point good), 45-7
DSU - Jace Johnson 33 yard field goal, 48-7
DSU TEAM STATS - OFFENSE
Passing - Drew Boedecker 14-26, 231 yds, 3 TD, Alec Lovegren 1-1, 8 yds, 1 TD
Rushing - Lovegren 12-73; Riley Linder 14-67, 2 TD; Cody Asbeck 4-26; Braden Zuroff 8-25
Receiving - Conor McCarvel 4-99, 1 TD; Tyger Frye 3-60, 1 TD; Lovegren 2-36; Kellen Ray 2-26; Kaden Kuntz 3-10, 1 TD; Colin Bowden 1-8, 1 TD.