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Blue Hawks turn big plays in win over Trojans, earn conference crown

Whatever the Dickinson State football team did at halftime worked. The Blue Hawks fielded an onside kick to start the third quarter down 19-14. Less than two minutes into the frame, a 21-yard pass from junior quarterback Hayden Gibson to tight en...

Dickinson State sophomore running back Nick Miller moves up field against the Trojans on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State sophomore running back Nick Miller moves up field against the Trojans on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

Whatever the Dickinson State football team did at halftime worked.

The Blue Hawks fielded an onside kick to start the third quarter down 19-14. Less than two minutes into the frame, a 21-yard pass from junior quarterback Hayden Gibson to tight end Jordan Walker up the middle put the Blue Hawks up 20-19, a lead they never relinquished.

Dickinson State added four more touchdowns before the clock hit zero to seal a 41-25 victory over Dakota State, as well as a fourth consecutive North Star conference championship.

"It's unreal. It feels awesome," senior Jay Liggins said. "It's great we could do that for the team and we also did it at home, too. It's great for the fans. It's always nice to have something like that at home. Of course it feels great for us, but it's nice to give back to the fans, the community, the guys who've done it before us."

Following Walker's touchdown reception, the Trojans got the ball, but couldn't move out of their own territory, punting it away. Freshman Corbin Wood returned the punt for 39 yards, all the way to the Dakota State 36. Two plays later, junior running back Roderick Ashford busted out to the left. He saw a wall of defenders and moved to the other side of the field. Breaking tackles along the way, he ran up the right sideline 36 yards to the end zone.

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Ashford led all players with 120 yards on the ground over 12 carries, a career high for the back.

"I think in that sequence, we just knew we had to come out and play better," head coach Pete Stanton said. "We figured they might have nothing to lose. We actually talked about the onside kick at halftime, that they may do that because they have nothing to lose. Fortunately, they kicked that one out of bounds and we got the ball there, but I think really it was just a matter of playing better."

Later in the third quarter, Tyger Frye made Dickinson State history.

With a 7-yard reception, the sophomore slot receiver made his fifth catch of the game and the 53rd of the year, breaking the school record for receptions in a season, previously set by Dave Ouellette in 1991. With a 2-yard catch in the fourth, Frye brought his total to 54 over 10 games played this fall.

"I knew where I was at, but I didn't know there was a record," Frye said. "It was definitely cool. I remember everyone was coming up to me. I was like, let's just get this game. Let's go out and finish this one first."

The momentum of the second half actually began in the final minutes of the first half. Down 19-7, the Blue Hawks got the ball on their own 38 with 2:20 remaining.

After losing seven yards to the first sack of the game, Gibson and his men lined up at the Trojans 22-yard line. Gibson fired left into the end zone, where senior defensive back-turned-receiver Liggins was waiting.

"I went out there and definitely expected the ball," Liggins said. "So when it came, I wasn't surprised. It was kind of a high ball, but I can jump. ... I always talk about getting out there. I want to play a lot. So when big-time plays come, you got to make a big-time play."

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Up just five points, 19-14, Dakota State got the ball back with 59 seconds left to play in the half, but couldn't get far. With five seconds on the clock on fourth down, they elected to go for it. Freshman quarterback Torren Devericks fired towards top receiver Mason Leighton, but senior safety Cain Boschee got to the ball first.

In the waning minutes of the contest, Boschee got his hands on another Leighton-intended pass, bringing his career total to 23, one shy of the school record.

Liggins limited David Bond to a catch for four yards, while Boschee kept tabs of Leighton, who finished with four catches for 101 yards.

"We were definitely short-handed on defense, but we knew that," Stanton said. "I think our guys did a good job of staying with it. A couple guys on our secondary were outstanding. Cain and and Jay showed who they are, as far as making plays."

Ahead of those big plays, the Blue Hawks didn't look good, fumbling the ball twice, including a 67-yard fumble recovery ran in for a touchdown by Trojans sophomore linebacker Marcus Vanden Bosch. On the first play of the second quarter, junior kicker Cody Johnson also mishandled a snap for a punt, giving the Trojans the ball at the Dickinson State 25-yard line.

"It was probably as poor a first half as we played all year, but probably as good a third quarter as we played all year," Stanton said. "That's a credit to our guys to not panic and to step up and get it done."

Results Saturday

Dickinson State 41, Dakota State (S.D.) 25

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DaSU 13 6 0 0 - 0

DiSU 7 7 0 0 - 0

First Quarter

DaSU - Mason Leighton 35 pass from Torren Devericks (Darby Neal kick), 12:05

DiSU - Randy Ivey 5 pass from Hayden Gibson (Cody Johnson kick), 7:37

DaSU - Marcus Vanden Bosch 67 fumble recovery (PAT no good), 1:34

Second Quarter

DaSU - Brenner Furlong 1 rush (PAT no good), 2:20

DiSU - Jay Liggins 22 pass from Gibson (Johnson kick), 0:59

Third Quarter

DiSU - Jordan Walker 21 pass from Gibson (PAT no good), 13:09

DiSU - Roderick Ashford 36 rush (Johnson kick), 9:09

DiSU - Amad Andrews Jr. 31 pass from Gibson (Johnson kick), 6:10

Fourth Quarter

DiSU - Kooper Ray 3 rush (Johnson kick), 14:56

DaSU - Mitchell Galloway 24 pass from Devericks (PAT no good), 11:58

TEAM STATISTICS DiSU DaSU

First downs 27 14

Rushes-yards 47-244 27-62

Passing yards 261 201

Comp.-Att.-Int. 24-35-1 17-32-3

Total yards 505 263

Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1

Penalties-yards 4-43 4-14

Punts-Avg. 3-33 6-46

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: DaSU, Brenner Furlong 21-75, TD; Torren Devericks 6- -13. DiSU, Roderick Ashford 12-120, TD; Amad Andrews Jr. 16-87; Nick Miller 7-31; Derek Tabor 8-22; Kooper Ray 1-3, TD.

PASSING: DaSU, Devericks 17-32-3. DiSU, Hayden Gibson 23-34-1, 250 yards, 4 TD; Ray 1-1, 11 yards.

RECEIVING: DaSU, Brenner Furlong 7-24; Mason Leighton 4-101, TD; Mitchell Galloway 2-63, TD. DiSU, Tyger Frye 6-48; Jaret Lee 5-74; Jordan Walker 3-29, TD; Randy Ivey 3-21, TD; Andrews Jr. 2-34, TD; Nick Miller 2-17; Jay Liggins 1-22, TD; Tyler Burk 1-10; Cleet Wrzesinski 1-6.

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

TACKLES: DaSU, Curt Boeke 9-9, 0.5 TFL, fumble recovery; Ryan Dozier 6-7; 2 TFL. DiSU, Daniel Moreno 9-0, 1 sack, 1 TFL; Paxton Miller 4-0, 1 sack, 1 TFL; Derick VandeBossche 3-0; Lewis Dobitz 2-0; Zeb Doe 2-0, sack, 2 TFL.

INTERCEPTIONS: DaSU, Jacob Hult 1-0. DiSU, VandeBossche 1-30; Cain Boschee 2-0.

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