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Blue Hawks return home to face Presentation College after bye week

Dickinson State will look to get back to .500 against an opponent they've never lost to.

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Dickinson State wide receiver Tyger Frye against Montana-Western on Sept. 11, 2021 at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson. (Race Archibald / The Dickinson Press)
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Dickinson State football returns to action this weekend after a bye week last week. The Blue Hawks sit at 1-2 following a 51-13 win over Mayville State on Sept. 18.

This week, Dickinson State will take on Presentation College for their second home game of the season.

GAME INFO

Saturday, Oct. 2 - Presentation College Saints (0-2, 0-5) @ Dickinson State Blue Hawks (1-0, 1-2), Henry Biesiot Activities Center, Dickinson, ND, 1:00 p.m. MST.

LAST TIME OUT

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The Blue Hawks recorded their first win of the season against Mayville State back on Sept. 18, as Dickinson State’s offense got back on track.

They jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter from a pair of touchdown passes by senior quarterback Drew Boedecker, whose status going into the game was in question due to an injury he sustained against Montana-Western the week prior.

There were no concerns about his performance against the Comets as he finished with 286 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. His performance earned him North Star Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week honors.

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Dickinson State built up a 37-6 lead at halftime as they were finally able to have success running the ball. The running game broke through against Mayville State, recording 248 yards after having 177 combined in their first two games.

Sophomore Braden Zuroff saw his first game action of the season and provided a much needed spark to the ground attack, rushing 13 times for 128 yards and two scores.

On the season, junior Riley Linder leads the way with 40 carries. Junior Alec Lovegren has also received a healthy dose of carries. Head coach Pete Stanton mentioned after the game against the Comets that it’s important to rotate the backs to keep them all fresh for the long season ahead.

Senior wide receiver Tyger Frye had 6 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s recorded at least 6 catches and 80 yards in each of the Blue Hawks first three games. His 94 yards per game ranks 13th in the NSAA.

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Sophomore Noah Sickler and junior Conor McCarvel both had at least 70 yards and a touchdown as well. Together the three have accounted for 75 percent of Dickinson State’s yards through the air this season.

They’ve also helped out Boedecker maintain his success as he ranks 7th in the NSAA with 286 passing yards per game. He also ranks 2nd in passing efficiency.

On defense, the defensive line set the tone as the Blue Hawks were constantly wreaking havoc in the Mayville State backfield. Dickinson State sacked Comets’ quarterback Tim Salmon 4 times, led by junior defensive lineman Krew Mathern with 1.5.

Neither team turned the ball over but the Blue Hawks held Mayville State to 251 yards of total offense, including just 45 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Nick Miller had a team-high 5 tackles and leads Dickinson State in that category on the season with 29.

The Blue Hawks continued their dominance against the Comets, securing their 12th-straight over their conference foes, and improved their record against them to 15-1.

THIS WEEKS OPPONENT

The Saints enter this matchup struggling mightily on their season so far. Each of their five games they’ve lost were by double digits. Before a 38-22 defeat to Waldorf University last week on Sept. 25, they scored 9, 14, 14, and 13 points this season. Presentation College averages 14.4 points per game.

The inconsistency in the passing game have contributed to their offensive struggles. The Saints have utilized three quarterbacks this season; seniors Mike McPeek and Hunter Giffrow, and junior Tim Evitt.

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McPeek began the season as the starter, but was replaced by Evitt in their third game against Concordia College-Moorhead, and hasn’t played since.

But then Giffrow came in against Dakota State in their fourth game on Sept. 18 and had 42 yards and a touchdown.

In their most recent game against Waldorf last week, both Evitt and Giffrow saw plenty of action, but Giffrow had the better performance, tallying 109 yards and a touchdown. On the season Giffrow has been the most accurate of the three, being the only quarterback to have a completion percentage above 50. He’s also the only one to not throw an interception this season.

On the ground senior running back Innocent Okoh leads the way with 345 yards and 4 touchdowns. His best game of the season came against Wisconsin-Stout on Sept.4 with 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. The only other running back that has seen a decent amount of reps is freshman Breken Green with 37 carries, but has turned in only 106 yards and 1 touchdown.

Through five games the Saints don’t have any receivers that have eclipsed 200 yards this season. Sophomore Cameron Sheppard has the most with 196. No receivers have recorded multiple touchdowns. In all, Presentation College averages just under 150 passing yards per game.

Freshman linebacker Braxton Bates leads the team in tackles with 23, including 4.5 tackles for loss.

Head coach Steve Heimann is in his third year at Presentation College, previously working for Tabor College as their offensive coordinator. He has experience at the Division I level as Coastal Carolina’s offensive analyst/wide receivers coach in 2016-17.

The Saints have not won more than four games in a season since 2016. They are currently riding a 16-game losing streak dating back to 2019.

SERIES HISTORY

Presentation College is another opponent that Dickinson State has enjoyed much success against. The Blue Hawks have won each of the nine games between the two. They first met in 2014 in Dickinson, a 42-35 win. That scoreline remains the closest the Saints have ever been to defeating Dickinson State as they’ve lost by multiple scores in every other matchup. Last year, the Blue Hawks defeated Presentation College at home on Nov. 7, 52-34. Frye was stellar on the day with 10 catches for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Start out fast - Dickinson State had a bye week to relax and recharge their batteries after a big win over Mayville State. It will be important to keep that momentum going despite having a week off. More likely than not the Blue Hawks will want to hit the ground running with fresh legs after getting their first win of the season last time out. They will also want to put any thoughts the Saints might have at securing their first win of the season to rest quickly.

Create mistakes - The uncertainty at quarterback by the Saints all season is a perfect opportunity for the Blue Hawks to create some turnovers and get after the quarterback, whoever it may be. Last week’s game was turnover free and they allowed only 13 points, but any defensive unit wants more than just a low score and yardage total.

Continue ground attack - It may sound like a broken record at this point, but the running game is always an important part in football. Having Zuroff complement Linder and Lovegren gives the Blue Hawks offense another trio to look towards on offense. For all the defensive struggles Presentation College has experienced, their run defense isn’t too bad, ranking in the top half of the NAIA in rush defense.

Race Archibald is a Green Bay, Wisconsin native and graduate of Eastern Illinois University. From a young age he loved watching, competing and talking about sports — a passion that lead him to participate in nearly every sport available growing up. Swimming would be his bread and butter, and Archibald continued his athletic career at the Division I level where he earned a degree in journalism. Today he leads a team focused on providing the very best coverage of southwest North Dakota sports.
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