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Dickinson State football set to return home

Montana Western from the Frontier Conference will visit Dickinson for the first time since 2013.

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The Blue Hawks are 4-3 in home openers during Pete Stanton's tenure as Dickinson State head coach. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)
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Last week was a challenge for the Dickinson State Blue Hawks when they took on Division II Black Hills State on the road in Spearfish, South Dakota.

While the final scoreline looks favorable on paper, the Yellow Jackets were in firm control of the game in the fourth quarter, up 30-10, before a couple of late touchdowns from Dickinson State made it 30-24.

They’ll now return home against fellow NAIA school Montana Western in a non-conference matchup for their first home game of the season.

GAME INFO

Saturday, Sept. 11 - Montana Western Bulldogs @ Dickinson State Blue Hawks, Henry Biesiot Activities Center, 12 p.m. MST.

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LAST TIME OUT

In the loss to Black Hills State last week, senior quarterback Drew Boedecker started the game and had a respectable staline, going 16-24 for 272 yards and a touchdown, but it only led to 10 points offensively before junior Aaron White took over in the fourth quarter.

White was impressive in his short stint leading the offense, completing 12 of 16 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. Between the two quarterbacks, Dickinson State had 384, compared to 282 for the Yellow Jackets.

The Blue Hawks were able to keep a clean pocket for White, who wasn’t sacked, but didn’t do so well protecting Boedecker, who was sacked five times.

Three different receivers had over 100 yards, led by sophomore Noah Sickler with 5 catches for 111 yards. Returning All-American Tyger Frye had 8 catches for 101 yards, while junior wide receiver Conor McCarvel had a team-high 9 catches for 102 yards.

Dickinson native Kaden Kuntz had just 2 catches for 26 yards but both went for touchdowns, his first two in a Blue Hawk jersey.

Dickinson State outgained Black Hills State 384-282 through the air, but the Yellow Jackets made up for the disparity through the air on the ground. Dickinson State managed just 72 yards as a team on 36 attempts, good for 2 YPC. Black Hills State were able to get over 6 YPC en route to 200 yards total.

Junior running back Riley Linder had 45 yards on 14 carries for the Blue Hawks. Matthew Collier for the Yellow Jackets had 125 yards on just 9 attempts, good for over 13 YPC.

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Black Hills State were intercepted once, but Dickinson State had two fumbles, one of which coming inside the red zone in the second quarter, spoiling a great chance to extend their 7-3 lead at the time.

They had another chance to put up points later in the quarter with the game tied 10-10 after the interception from junior defensive back Dawson McGlothlin, but Yellow Jackets blocked the 30-yard field goal attempt from junior kicker Jace Johnson with just over a minute to go in the first half.

The hosts would strike quickly, going 81 yards in seven plays to score a touchdown with 13 seconds left in the half to carry momentum into the break.

From there Black Hills State never relinquished the lead, scoring twice in the fourth quarter, proving to be too much for the Blue Hawks to overcome.

THIS WEEKS OPPONENT

Montana-Western comes into this matchup 1-1, fresh off a 35-28 loss to 18th-ranked Eastern Oregon last Saturday.

The Frontier Conference side won their opening game on Aug. 28 against Carroll College 26-22. Redshirt senior running back Reese Neville had a standout performance with 25 carries for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. He followed that performance up with 79 yards and 3 touchdowns against Eastern Oregon. He is appearing in his first season for the Bulldogs after spending four years at Division I Nevada.

They are led offensively by redshirt junior quarterback Jon Jund, who through two games has 481 yards passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, with 1 pick in each game.

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Redshirt senior wide receiver Jamison Hermanson had 9 receptions for 138 yards in their first game, but just 3 catches for 29 yards in the second. Overall the Bulldogs had more success on the ground in their second game, negating the need to throw the ball as much.

Montana Western opted out of the spring 2021 season after the Frontier Conference postponed play in the fall of 2020. In the preseason coaches’ poll this year, the Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the conference, earning one first place vote.

In the NAIA preseason poll, they were not among the top 25, but were the highest team in the “receiving votes” category, essentially occupying the 26th spot.

In 2019, the Bulldogs went 7-3 led by a high powered offense. Jund, who was a part of that team, averaged 311 offensive YPG, seventh-best in the nation. He was a second-team all-conference selection that year.

Montana Western has been solid against the run so far this season, allowing 178 yards through two games. They’ve allowed just over 3 YPC. In fact, if not for a 65-yard run allowed against Carroll College, those figures change to 113 yards on 2 YPC.

Ryan Nourse is in the middle of his second stint as Montana Western head coach after taking over in 2011 and posting a 2-9 mark in his first season. He took a short break from coaching duties between 2013-2016, operating as the Athletic Director for the Bulldogs.

Nourse took over head coaching again in 2016 and since then has had only one losing season. He has led Montana Western to two second place finishes in the conference and twice finished the season inside the NAIA top 25. He is currently the winningest coach in school history with a 31-34 mark.

SERIES HISTORY

Dickinson State has never defeated Montana Western, with the Bulldogs holding a 3-0 record against them. They last met in 2016, a neutral site affair in Miles City, Montana, where the Blue Hawks lost 29-13. The last time the two teams met in Dickinson was in 2013, where Montana Western blew out Dickinson State 55-14.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Red zone execution - The two miscues Dickinson State had in their game against Black Hills State proved to be costly. The Blue Hawks could’ve went up 14-3, but a fumble recovered by the Yellow Jackets led to a touchdown by them just five plays later, making it 10-7 Black Hills State. The blocked field goal at the end of the half allowed the Yellow Jackets to score right before the half, shifting the momentum in their favor. Had those two plays gone differently, it could’ve changed the outcome of the game.

Establish the rushing attack - Last year the Blue Hawks averaged 4 YPC, and finished the game against Black Hills State with just 2 YPC. Outside of Linder, no other player had more than 15 yards rushing. Not only will Linder want to improve upon the 45 yards he had - he averaged 60 YPG on the ground last year - but other players will need to step up to create a potent rushing attack.

Quarterback pressure - Dickinson State allowed five sacks in their opening game and failed to record a sack on defense. They’ll have to do a better job protecting their quarterback, as well as getting to Jund for Montana Western, a proven offensive threat.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLNAIA
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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