In a football game dictated by defense, a trick play on offense changed everything. So did a lot of Dickinson State penalties. A 52-yard double pass from Black Hills State quarterback Drew Hodgs to receiver Wes Kragt, who found freshman Dustin Wo...
In a football game dictated by defense, a trick play on offense changed everything.
So did a lot of Dickinson State penalties.
A 52-yard double pass from Black Hills State quarterback Drew Hodgs to receiver Wes Kragt, who found freshman Dustin Worthington down the right sideline, set up Drew Nielsen's 1-yard go-ahead touchdown run with under 3 minutes to play.
It was the Yellow Jackets' second touchdown run of the fourth quarter and ended up being the difference as they won their sixth consecutive game and snapped previously unbeaten and No. 9-ranked DSU's six-game win streak with a 19-13 Dakota Athletic Conference victory Saturday afternoon at the Badlands Activities Center.
It was DSU's second DAC loss in the past three seasons. Both losses came against Black Hills State.
"We're just such a young team right now, it's so exciting," Black Hills State head coach Jay Long said. "We just keep finding ways to win and the guys, they just don't have any quit in them. They just keep working and keep believing."
The Blue Hawks beat themselves up while the Yellow Jackets (6-1, 5-0 DAC) fought back from behind.
DSU (6-1, 4-1 DAC) was backed up a total of 101 yards on 11 penalties -- several of them the 15-yard variety.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," DSU senior quarterback Cody Holland said.
The mistakes were no more significant than on the Blue Hawks' final offensive series in the final 2 and half minutes, when penalties stopped DSU's drive in its tracks.
After two 15-yard pass completions for first downs, a false start at the Yellow Jacket 38 gave way to a personal foul on the next play and eventually put DSU at fourth-and-36 from its own 36 after a delay of game penalty. Holland's pass on fourth down was knocked down.
DSU had a chance to get the ball back after Black Hills State encountered a fourth-and-3 at the DSU 29 with 48 seconds remaining. But an illegal procedure penalty on the Blue Hawk defense, called before the ball was snapped, gave Black Hills State a first down and the victory.
"You better be a lot better than your opponent if you have 100 yards in penalties," DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said.
Early on, the Blue Hawks appeared headed in that direction.
DSU jumped ahead early with a 34-yard Tury Escobedo field goal on its second series.
On its next series, the Blue Hawks took a 10-0 lead after a 7-yard touchdown pass from Holland to senior tight end Derek Pauley capped a 15-play, 85-yard drive. The drive spanned 9 minutes in the first and second quarters.
That, however, was as productive as DSU's offense would get.
The Blue Hawks were held 225 yards, just three yards shy of their season low, while the Yellow Jackets had 275 total yards -- making Kragt's trick-play pass a shade more than the difference between the two offenses.
"It leaves a bad taste in our mouths. It really does," said DSU senior defensive tackle Luke Steiner, who had a game-high 13 tackles. "Me personally, I felt like I left some football out there to be played and I think a lot of guys felt that."
Nielsen scored his first touchdown with 5:25 left in the second quarter, a 17-yard, tackle-evading run up the gut to make it 10-7. He rushed for 70yards on 24 carries.
Escobedo added a 39-yard field goal with 7:35 left in the third quarter to give DSU a 13-7 edge. DSU kept points on the board on the play after a Black Hills State player was flagged for roughing the kicker.
Penalties reared their ugly head on DSU's next series, which was set up after senior linebacker Jason Kraft recovered Kragt's fumble on a reception at the Black Hills State 31. However, a holding penalty on DSU's first play and a false start before they were able to get off another playoff made it first-and-25 from the 46.
"When we have a chance to put a team away, we have to put them away," said Holland, who threw for 152 yards.
Black Hills State blocked a punt and recovered the ball at DSU's 19 at the 14:12 mark of the fourth quarter, but freshman running back Bryar DeSanti was stopped cold at the 1-yard line in a series eerily reminiscent of DSU's goal-line stand to help defeat the Yellow Jackets last season.
But, DSU turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession and a rare shanked punt by Sean Russell set Black Hills State up at the DSU 27.
Seven plays later, fullback Mike Jager bulled in for a 3-yard, game-tying touchdown run. The extra-point kick sailed wide right, keeping the score tied 13-13.
Yellow Jackets senior cornerback Clayton Schluesner picked off Holland on DSU's ensuing possession, setting up Kragt's game-changing pass and Nielsen's second TD run.
"I was pretty nervous going in, throwing it," said Kragt, who also had a game-high seven receptions for 63 yards. "But it was a good pass and a good catch and it won us the game.
With the loss, DSU expects to take a tumble in the NAIA coaches poll while previously unranked Black Hills State will likely be ranked. No. 15-ranked South Dakota Mines (6-1, 5-0 DAC), fresh off Saturday's 10-6 victory at Minot State, will likely move up.
The Blue Hawks visit Mines next Saturday in Rapid City, S.D., in a game that now becomes a must-win for DSU if it hopes to stay in the playoff hunt.
"We've got to play better the next three games or we're in trouble," Biesiot said. "We've got to get some things tightened up a little bit."
Said Holland: "We have to take it as a learning experience. It leaves a horrible taste in our mouth. I think it's something that can bring us together and help us become a stronger football team."
BHSU 0 7 0 12 -- 19
DSU 3 7 3 0 -- 13
DSU-Tury Escobedo 34 FG, 8:00.
DSU-Derek Pauley 7 pass from Cody Holland (Escobedo kick), 10:18.
BHSU-Drew Nielsen 17 run (Chris Wenk kick), 5:25.
DSU-Escobedo 39 FG, 7:35.
BHSU-Mike Jager 3 run (kick failed), 6:33.
BHSU-Nielsen 1 run (kick blocked), 2:41.
TEAM STATISTICS BHSU DSU
First downs 15 13
Rushes-yards 38-94 32-73
Passing yards 181 152
Comp.-Att.-Int. 16-24-1 13-27-1
Total yards 275 225
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-30 11-101
Punts-Avg. 5-38.2 7-32.1
RUSHING: BHSU, Nielsen 24-70, Bryar DeSanti 8-15, Jager 3-6, Drew Hodgs 3-3. DSU, Brennan Haughian 16-52, Holland 4-20, Tyler Grosz 6-13, Jeremy Herr 4-(minus-6), Presley Straub 1-(minus-5), Rashad Williams 1-(minus-1).
PASSING: BHSU, Hodgs 15-23-1 129, Wes Kragt 1-1-0 52. DSU, Holland 13-27-1 152.
RECEIVING: BHSU, Kragt 7-63, Daniel Hancock 4-47, Dustin Worthington 2-59, Shandon Jones 1-7, Luke Whalen 1-4, Clayton Schleusner 1-1. DSU, Pauley 4-59, Tanner Leak 3-42, Straub 3-23, Jimmy Smith 2-23, Haughian 1-5.