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DSU tries to build on momentum

The Dickinson State football team revealed a new side of itself last week. When history of lopsided scores and lackluster play against Frontier Conference opponents looked as if it would repeat itself, the Blue Hawks showed they weren't a pushove...

JT Keith
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior wide receiver JT Keith, right, is tackled by a host of Montana State-Northern defenders during the 2013 season opener on Aug. 29 at the Biesiot Activities Center.

The Dickinson State football team revealed a new side of itself last week.
When history of lopsided scores and lackluster play against Frontier Conference opponents looked as if it would repeat itself, the Blue Hawks showed they weren’t a pushover anymore.
The Blue Hawks took control of Rocky Mountain College in the second quarter of season opener on Aug. 30 to take a 23-14 deficit into halftime.
Despite losing 40-21, DSU head coach Pete Stanton was pleased with the team’s effort and look into what’s to come.
“When it was all said and done, to come into the fourth quarter after being down that far and most of the fourth quarter to be down 12 and to have a chance to get it back to a one score game, we had a lot of opportunities so we were pleased with how our guys battled back and were pretty resilient all game long,” Stanton said.
DSU hopes to continue improving and take the momentum to Montana State-Northern at 1 p.m. today in Havre, Mont.
In the first game against Rocky Mountain during the 2013 season - with an underclassman-laden team - DSU’s offense was silenced on the field, racking up just 298 total yards with 18 first downs compared to the Bears’ 536 yards and 30 first downs.
Fast forward to Aug. 30 and the Blue Hawks remained consistently competitive. DSU’s offense finished with 397 total yards - topping Rocky Mountain’s 342 - and sacked senior quarterback Bryce Baker four times. 

“The word relentless is a good word,” said DSU senior wide receiver JT Keith, who led the team with five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. “There was a big difference from last year. You put us in the same spot last year down 23-0 at the end of that game we would have been happy.
“This year we took the loss to heart and we’re still angry about it. We still have a chip on our shoulder and if we have to take anything positive from it, it was that we were able to move the ball against the No. 9-ranked team in the nation.”
But the Blue Hawks were far from perfect. This week in practice the offense worked on everything from route running to blocking up front, while the defense was concerned with making more tackles.
“We had a lot of missed tackles and we need to not get beat deep in the middle,” DSU’s Awa Poggi said. The junior safety had a game-high six tackles against the Bears. “That’s what (MSU-Northern) does, they like to do a lot of posts over the middle.”
With the Rocky Mountain matchup in the books, DSU turns its full attention to the Lights. Northern also came off a loss last week as Montana Tech grabbed a 38-24 win.
The Lights held their own in the first half of the game, maintained a 17-10 lead going into halftime but was outscored 28-7 in the second half.
“A little but of good, a little bit of bad, but the positive thing about that game was the kids came out with an understanding if they clean up a couple of their mental mistakes and finish that game we had an opportunity to win it,” said Northern interim head coach Jake Eldridge.
DSU’s defense task at hand for today is simple, but not easily accomplished - shut down the run game. Last season as a freshman Zach McKinley rushed for 1,100 yards with four games with at least 100 yards. Besides McKinley, the Lights also have several weapons at wide out, including Trevor Baum a former defensive back turned receiver. Because of his athleticism, Baum’s transition was seamless and finished last week’s game with 146 yards and a touchdown
For the offense, the biggest key to staying in the game is limiting, if not eliminate, turnovers. DSU had three fumbles and two interceptions against Rocky Mountain which gave the Bears good field position and some easy scoring situations.
The team will also have some familiar faces on the sidelines. Starting quarterback Kaler Ray is listed as doubtful after suffering a shoulder separation on the non-throwing arm and Brian Cronnelly and Thad Lane will take snaps in his place. At tight end, Braden Ler is still out with an infection while Hazer Burghduff could see the field for certain plays but is listed as questionable.
“Receiver-wise, we want to catch it, secure it, no turnovers,” Keith said. “Turnovers, that’s one of coach Stanton’s things - turnovers are the keys to winning ball games. We want to take care of the ball. It’s not my ball, it’s the teams ball.”

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