Hawks' defense picks up offense
VALLEY CITY -- Dickinson State showed Saturday it can win a football game without a big offensive performances. The 10th-ranked Blue Hawks remained unbeaten despite being held to a season-worst 222 total offensive yards in its first game on the r...
VALLEY CITY -- Dickinson State showed Saturday it can win a football game without a big offensive performances.
The 10th-ranked Blue Hawks remained unbeaten despite being held to a season-worst 222 total offensive yards in its first game on the road this season.
DSU's offense controlled the clock late in the second half and its defense managed to keep Valley City State out of the end zone all but once in the first quarter to claim a rough 16-6 Dakota Athletic Conference victory on Saturday afternoon at Lokken Field.
"Our defense was stellar in the red zone and didn't let anyone get in," DSU junior cornerback Sean Russell said. "We just buckled down when we had our backs to the wall. There was nothing else we could do."
Playing on natural grass and away from the artificial turf at the Badlands Activities Center for the first time all season, DSU used a short and long drive to take a 13-6 halftime lead.
The Blue Hawks (5-0, 3-0 DAC) went ahead 7-6 lead following a 25-yard drive set up by Brennan Haughian's 40-yard kick return.
"They pooched it to me," Haughian said. "Our front line just kind of slowed them and they all ran past me."
Blue Hawks senior quarterback Cody Holland connected with Tanner Leak on a 16-yard pass, which set up his 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Pauley, his fifth TD reception in the past four games.
Late in the first half, Holland led an 84-yard drive that included a 38-yard pass to Pauley and a 25-yard reverse run by Leak to the 2 that set up Haughian's 2-yard TD plunge.
Haughian finished with 77 yards on 18 carries and started what ended up being a 16-play, 69-yard drive that lasted 9 minutes and ended with a 27-yard Tury Escobedo field goal to put DSU ahead 16-6.
DSU had 1 total yard on its first two offensive series of the third quarter. But deep inside their own territory, Haughian punched the Blue Hawks out of the red zone and into VCSU territory with five runs of 36 yards over the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the third quarter.
The freshman from Terry, Mont., felt it was a breakout game for him.
"I was sort of disappointed in the year up until this point," Haughian said. "I've got a good feel for the game now."
VCSU got on the scoreboard first with Derek Elliott's 1-yard TD run following a seven-play goal-line stand by DSU's defense.
The Blue Hawks stopped Elliott at the 3 on third down, but were flagged for a facemask on the play, giving VCSU a new set of downs.
"We made some good plays when we had to on defense," DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said.
The Vikings punched it in three plays later on their second third down inside the 5 as Elliott flipped into the end zone after being upended by DSU linebacker Jason Kraft.
VCSU set up the score with A.J. Pfeifer's 23-yard reverse run and a 33-yard run by Elliott -- two of the Vikings' only long plays of the game.
"All their yards came from trick plays and busted plays," Russell said. "That's what we've got to work on for next week."
The Vikings outgained DSU 270 to 220 in total yards.
Holland was limited to a season-low 73 yards passing, going 7 of 12 with an interception.
The Blue Hawks gained only 1 yard on their first two series of the third quarter.
VCSU had an opportunity to make the game close late, but DSU junior cornerback Sean Russell intercepted quarterback Trent Kosel inside the 5 and brought DSU out to the 8-yard line.
Russell jumped his receivers' route on crossing patters to make the pick.
"He threw it right to me basically," Russell said.
From there, Haughian and Holland burned clock with their feet before Russell punted the ball back to the Vikings with a short clock and a long field.
"The interception on the goal line was a big play, was a good stop," Biesiot said.
DSU 7 6 0 3 -- 16
VCSU 6 0 0 0 -- 6
VCSU-Derek Elliot 1 run (kick failed), 2:56
DSU-Derek Pauley 6 pass to Cody Holland (Tury Escobedo kick), 1:30
DSU-Brennan Haughian 2 run (kick failed), 1:16
DSU-Escobedo 27 FG, 8:31.
TEAM STATISTICS DSU VCSU
First downs 14 14
Rushes-yards 50-149 28-153
Passing yards 73 117
Comp.-Att.-Int. 7-12-1 14-32-1
Total yards 222 270
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-55 6-49
Punts-Avg. 6-37.8 7-30
RUSHING: DSU, Brennan Haughian 18-77, Jeremy Herr 13-24, Tanner Leak 1-24, Cody Holland 8-14, Rashad Williams 8-10. VCSU, Derek Elliott 12-78, Jordan Backstrom 6-20, Trent Kosel 5-20, A.J. Pfiefer 3-34, Andy Derilus 2-0.
PASSING: DSU, Holland 7-12-1 73. VCSU, Kosel 14-29-1 117.
RECEIVING: DSU, Pauley 4-60, Leak 1-17, Herr 2-(minus-4). VCSU, LeTheo Proctor 6-39, Ken Eliacin 2-25, Dillon Ostrom 1-16, Elliott 1-13, Pfiefer 2-13, Backstrom 1-17, Nick Schoenecker 1-4.