Dickinson State celebrates sixth straight NSAA title
Prior to 2019, it was deemed extremely difficult to win five straight NSAA conference titles. No team had ever accomplished the task before. Dickinson State was the first to ever complete it after defeating Mayville State 63-13. The Blue Hawks upped their incredible achievement to six straight NSAA titles following its 26-14 victory over Valley City on Saturday.
The Blue Hawks (8-0) celebrated their Halloween afternoon by being pushed to an intense second half against the Vikings (4-2). After making some clutch plays, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Dickinson State earned its sixth NSAA title with a 26-14 victory.
With the 2020 season deemed questionable due to the pandemic a few months prior, the celebration of the team’s sixth straight title was a huge reward for the entire Blue Hawks organization.
“We’re just really excited for our players,” head coach Pete Stanton said. “To be able to accomplish what we did this year, with everything that went on starting last spring, just not knowing what was going to happen when we got into the summer … to be able to come out of it and win another conference championship, and do it on the road, just really exciting.”
Along with the sixth straight conference title, the Blue Hawks earned their 28th conference title between the NDCAC, DAC and NSAA and the team's 470th victory in the program’s 95 years.
“We talk about it every year; we’re just excited about it,” Stanton said. “We talk about each team being different. That’s what we really emphasized to our guys this week, ‘this 2020 team is your team and this is your season' and there’s never any pressure put on them … they just wanted to accomplish the (sixth straight title) and they were able to do that.”
Saturday's game may have ended in a victory, but it was far from easy. In fact, it all came down to the final quarter with the game tied.
Despite taking a 14-0 score into the half, the first touchdown being a 14-yard connection between senior wideout Tyger Frye and junior quarterback Drew Boedecker in the first quarter, the second being a 3-yard rush by sophomore rusher Riley Linder, the Vikings bounced back in the second half with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game at 14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had the chance of taking the lead at the end of the third quarter with a field goal, but the attempted field goal was missed.
The fourth quarter went back and forth, but teams were able to get into the red zone and have a chance of taking the lead, including the Vikings, but key stops by the Blue Hawks’ defense forced Valley City to go scoreless.
After a series of exchanging the football, Dickinson State was finally able to return to the scoreboard with two clutch catches by senior receiver Jaret Lee. His second clutch catch being in the end zone for an 18-yard connection near the right corner of the end zone. The PAT was no good, but the Blue Hawks still held the lead midway through the final quarter.
Lee finished the game by leading the receivers with 101 yards on six receptions and a touchdown. His largest reception being a 30-yard connection. Frye was second in receptions with four and gaining 26 yards and a touchdown.
“I saw Drew scramble, so I scrambled with him,” Lee said. “He just found me in the end zone and I caught it.”
The Vikings attempted to get back on the board and tie the game, but were halted by the Blue Hawks’ defense.
With all of the momentum returning to Dickinson State, Boedecker and the Blue Hawks offense pushed its way down the field yet again. Following a pass interference call and the ball being placed at the 1-yard line, Boedecker was able to sneak the football into the end zone, giving the team a 26-14 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Vikings’ senior quarterback attempted to push the ball down field with deep long balls, but an interception by junior defensive back Javonte Oliphant sealed the deal for the Blue Hawks to earn their sixth straight title.
“It’s a dream come true, to win an NSAA championship for every year you’re in college,” Lee said. “It’s phenomenal … it’s the whole team effort. It’s a great feeling.”
The Blue Hawks dominated the stat line, recording 321 offensive yards on 77 plays compared to the Vikings’ 236 yards on 64 plays.
Boedecker finished the contest with 168 passing yards on 67% passing and two touchdowns. The quarterback also led the team in rushing with 68 yards on 16 attempts and recording a touchdown, his largest run going for 26 yards.
As the other Blue Hawks offense, Linder was the second leader in the rushing game with 46 yards on 17 attempts and one touchdown.
As for the Vikings, Pfeifer heavily struggled in the passing game against the Blue Hawks, connecting on seven of his 32 for 119 yards, one touchdown and an interception. However, the senior quarterback ran the ball 14 times for 57 yards, tying first-year running back Taylor Simmons who rushed for 57 yards on 16 attempts.
Despite getting a strong hold against Valley City in the stat line, Stanton and the Blue Hawks will remember the tight battle that was played on Saturday.
“It was incredible,” Stanton said. “We dodged some bullets in that third quarter … credit (Valley City) they battled back and had the wind to their back and tied the game. But we came up with two stops and when they missed the field goal, that was huge.
“Once we got the wind at our back, we did a good job of making plays and taking charge,” Stanton added. “We’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had that much wind … it was a major, major factor and they couldn’t throw the ball with that and our guys just did a good job of persevering.”
With the victory, the Blue Hawks officially get the pressure of earning the NSAA title lifted off as the team prepares for its final regular season football game at home against Presentation College.
With the title wrapped up there is only one thing left to do — play football.
“We’re elated and happy for all of our players and coaches and for getting that done and we’re just going to enjoy it and go take care of business next week.”
The Blue Hawks will play Presentation College at home on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 1 p.m.