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Homecoming heartbreak: Hi-Liners ground game too much for Midgets

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QB Shayden Jackson-Zietz (16) escapes a collapse pocket while breaking a tackle.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — It was a homecoming best forgotten for Dickinson as they fell to Valley City 27-6 at the Biesiot Activities Center on Friday night.

The Hi-Liners began the week stealing the Midgets No. 5 spot in the NDAPSSA rankings, and ended it by taking a win to spoil Dickinson's homecoming celebration.

The Midgets struggled to make first downs, tallying only six on the night while their Valley City opponents were able to break through an overworked defense to reach the endzone four times.

“I think our defense was on the field for too many plays,” John Tuchscherer, DHS head coach, said. “Credit to Valley City, I think their style of play wore us down and when we started getting tired we started making some mental mistakes that we weren't making in the first half when taking care of those misdirection runs… Our kids played hard, there is no question about that, Valley City just made more plays down the stretch.”

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Hi-Liners attempted only four passes, one of which was nearly intercepted by Chase Selle (9).
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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Dickinson Midgets turnover the ball from an interception.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Valley City held possession for the majority of the first half, grinding their path forward in 3 yard chunks as they ate away at the clock. Dickinson would go three and out on the bulk of their drives.

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After another three and out drive to start the second half, the Midgets defense once again found themselves on the field as Hi-Liner running back Zach Sykora punched through Dickinson’s defensive line, making big runs down the middle to claim Valley City's first touchdown with just under eight minutes remaining in the third.

Running back Ethan Miller would follow suit on the Hi-Liners following drive, extending Valley City’s lead to 14 on a 35-yard touchdown run.

With the scoreboard showing no sign of Dickinson's efforts all night, senior Ben Carlson would take a 58-yard return to put Dickinson on the 32 yard line and in their opponents territory for the first time on the night.

Also coming into the game was their gunslinger Stephen Zawdony, who found a wide open Carlson for a 33 yard touchdown pass.

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Dickinson Midgets kickoff.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“I thought Ben made a great catch, but also Stephen Zawdony came in cold off the sideline and stepped up in the pocket and made a great throw and our guys up front gave him time to find Ben down field so really it was a team effort,” Tuchscherer said. “We did some good things in the second half, but just not consistently.”

Hi-Liners scored back-to-back rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the first coming from a 38-yard touchdown run by Miller and their final scoring drive a 54 yard, 11 play drive completed by Sykora, who had eight carries on the drive.

The Hi-Liner ran the clock, kneeling the final two plays of the game.

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Valley City kneels to run the clock.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The biggest difference between the two sides on offense was their total rushing yards. Valley City had 306 yard rushing, with zero passing yards, while Dickinson had a total of 85 yards.

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Next week the Midgets will and will have a chance to make up for the home lost as they will be facing Devils Lake in Dickinson.

“I think the biggest thing is on offense we have to be able to sustain a few more drives even if you are not putting points on the board, at least on some drives we can give our defense some rest,” Tuchscherer said. “We are going to challenge our guys just like we do every week and find out what type of kids we have on our team and I know the answer to that question already and they are going to be ready to rock and roll Monday.”

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Dickinson Midgets offense running the ball.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

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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