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Dickinson holds early lead to clinch victory against Devils Lake 

The Midgets are back to winning ways and hold second place in Class A , western region standings.

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Dickinson's defense stop carrier at the line of scrimmage. Midgets capture a win at home against Devils Lakes on Friday, Sept. 23.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — The Dickinson Midgets secured a valuable home win on the back of an aggressive running game and a defense that exploited opportunities in critical moments.

The victory returned the Midgets to .500, bouncing back from last week's defeat against Valley City. Never resting on his laurels, head coach John Tuchscherer said he needs to see more from his team if they are to continue their success.

A field goal would be all it would take for Dickinson (1-0, 2-2) to maintain their halftime lead, but it wouldn’t be easy sailing as a tricky Firebirds playbook (1-3, 1-4) would put a late touchdown on the board in the waning minutes to attempt a momentum shift. It would ultimately prove too little too late as a final score of 11-8 would leave the Devils Lake fans sour on their long rides home.

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Dickinson Midgets O-line on the line of scrimmage.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“It was nice to have our guys come back here and compete,” Tuchscherer said. “Offensively, we wanted to establish the run game and mix in some play-action passing, and I think we were able to do that. Really what it came down to was us executing offensively. We just hurt ourselves with penalties and things like that.”

Dickinson set the tone early, scoring off of their first drive in nine plays for 71 yards. Senior leader on both sides of the ball, Chase Selle, would carry the ball off a sweep play to the endzone from 21 yards out. Selle would also convert an unplanned two point conversion after a bad snap to left the stand-out scrabbling to make the score 8-0.

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Selle would see the red zone once more in the final minute of the first half, before Dickinson would be forced to convert on a short a fourth down field goal to go into the second half up by 11.

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Chase Selle catches catches pass into the red zone.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Devils Lakes’ scoring drive was well-crafted, marching the length of the field. The seemingly never ending drive would conclude with a three-yard rushing TD by Tate Esenson.

DHS’ early successes resulted in painful lapses in concentration that stimied their offensive output as penalties would force long yardage drives. Running back Sam Stillings, rumbled and tumbled for nearly five yards per carry, and could have added a 45-yard touchdown to round out his stats, but an illegal block in the back would erase the drive.

“I thought we did a decent job all game, we would just hurt ourselves… If we want to continue to have success, we are going to have to eliminate a lot of the mistakes that we are making right now,” Tuchscherer said. “Looking back at the Valley City game last week I know the run game wasn't going well, but [Stillings] needs to touch the ball more than seven times and we made sure of that tonight.”

Tuchscherer added, “Like I said before, Sam would agree with me, that it is definitely a team effort. The guys up front played really well. We won a lot of double teams with Kaeden Krieg and Issac Schulte.”

In the closing minutes, the Firebirds were on a mission, pushing the ball up the field for a string of first downs — an inception by Selle would come at an opportune time to close the door.

Dickinson would end the game in possession, kneeling the ball to kill the remainder of the clock to secure their second win of the season.

“They were picking up downs, but our defense stepped up and made a nice play when we needed one, so we could run out the clock offensively,” Tuchscherer said. “Our guys played hard and they played hard all the time, and I am proud of them for bouncing back this week.”

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Both sides had strong running games, the Midgets had 156 rushing yards, whilst Devils Lake accumulated 172. Quarterback Stephen Zawodny commanded the DHS offense for the entire game, going 4-of-9 for 34 passing-yards with no interceptions.

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Dickinson Midgets Stephen Zawodny launching the ball.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The Midgets will be on the road next week and to face Jamestown’s Payton Hochhalter who has over 10 passing touchdowns on the season. The Blue Jays are the No. 1 ranked team in the Class A standings.

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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