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Superb passing and hard-nosed defense put Blue Hawks over Vikings 

In a slugfest that resulted in two injuries for Dickinson State University, the Blue Hawks clinched another victory to push their winning streak to six games. 

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Bridger Grovom crosses into the endzone for Dickinson State's first touchdown against Valley City at the BAC on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Josiah C. Cuelllar / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Not much has changed following the bye week, as Dickinson State University continued to show that they are in control of the North Star Athletic Association conference. The Blue Hawks fended off the Valley City State University Vikings on their home field at the Biesiot Activities Center with a 21-13 final result on Saturday.

It was a physical game, but the Blue Hawks' 14-7 (4-0, 6-2) halftime lead would be enough for the win, even with the Vikings (2-2, 3-5) scoring in the fourth quarter. The two sides showcased stingy defenses that kept the running game between the hashes for short yardage, but Dickinson State's phenomenal passing would give them the edge as they totaled 210 passing yards on the day.

Pete Stanton and his coaching staff were more than happy with their home performance and said that went it came to their their defense, it was the type of “lights out” play they expect.

“It was a hard fought battle, like it is every year,” Pete Stanton, DSU’s head coach, said. “We knew they had been playing well and we knew they were going to come in playing well against us and they did, but we also did a lot of good things on our side.”

The Blue Hawks scored on the opening drive in a 15 play drive that soaking up eight minutes of the first quarter. The scoring drive would come on the shoulders of junior wide receiver Noah Sickler and senior running back Riley Linder, who had a 21 yard reception and a 17 yard carry, respectively. The touchdown was brought in by Bridger Grovom from the three yard line.

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Riley Linder had 14 carries for 45 yards. The longest running play was 17 yards.
Josiah C. Cuelllar / The Dickinson Press

“You got to give the ball to your playmakers and [Sickler] is a guy that will just go up and make plays,” Stanton said. “That was kind of the plan for us against them. We felt that we could put him up against their corners and go make some plays.”

The Vikings responded on their second drive of the game, coming in the second quarter, on a two-and-10 passing play from their sophomore quarterback Noah Chambers to Austin Young for 21 yards.

After a blocked field goal attempt denied a Blue Hawks lead, Dickinson State defense came in clutch to keep the Vikings in their own territory, forcing a three-and-out with one minute left in the second quarter. A minute was all that they needed to take their winning lead with Sickler making an astonishing first down deep pass of 25 yards before receiving a 26 yard touchdown pass.

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JaQuawhann Booth and Matt Anderson making a backfield tackle.
Josiah C. Cuelllar / The Dickinson Press

Prior to the scoring drive, DSU experienced misfortune with Linder having to exit the game from an ankle injury, having completed . However, the Blue Hawks depth would see junior Braden Zuroff step up in the second half with 9 carries for 49 yards.

Sickler scored again in the third quarter from a 17-yard pass from Arron White. Both White and Sickler improvised on the scoring play, with White scrambling to the left side and Sickler staying open in the endzone. With two touchdowns, White went White went 14-24 in passing.

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Aaron White makes the pass with good blockage.
Josiah C. Cuelllar / The Dickinson Press

Sophomore linebacker Keaton Meschke secured the only interception of the game, following the scoring drive. Soon after, Dickinson State experienced another injury, this time being Chris Kistler, who picked the injury when initiating a QB sack, completed by Matt Anderson.

The Vikings showed an unwillingness to quit in the second half, but the Blue Hawks impeccable defensive IQ and penalties calls would stall their drives. They did manage to score their second and final touchdown in the four quarter from a three-yard rushing play brought in by Justice Bice.

At the end of the game, Dickinson State defense held Valley City to a total of 188 offensive yards, 12 first downs and collected three turnovers. The Vikings defense had four sacks, led by Riley Gerhardt with three. He also led both sides' defense with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo.

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“The most important thing when you want to talk defense is playing with the right mentality at all times,” Defensive Coordinator Jason Thier said.“We want our guys to be relentless off the ball, we want them to be relentless to the ball and we want to be relentless after the ball and I think today [Valley City] did a good job protecting the ball so anytime we can get a turnover like we did is great and anytime we get fourth down stops, we treat those like turnovers.”

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Jason Their talking to the defense after coming off the field.
Josiah C. Cuelllar / The Dickinson Press

The victory keeps Dickinson State undefeated in the conference with two games left in the season. Next week they will travel to Mayville, North Dakota to battle it out with the Comets that currently sit at the bottom of the standings.

“This win is huge,” Stanton said.“We have a two game lead in the conference standings and its hard to beat someone once, who is a good program and to be them twice sets them up for the goals we want to have… Next week we have a chance to win the conference champ upright and set us up to get to the playoffs.”

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