It took Dickinson State two and a half quarters to catch a break Saturday. Once the Blue Hawks finally got one, it was as if South Dakota Mines was standing in front of a runaway freight train. Sean Russell had a 65-yard interception return for a...
It took Dickinson State two and a half quarters to catch a break Saturday.
Once the Blue Hawks finally got one, it was as if South Dakota Mines was standing in front of a runaway freight train.
Sean Russell had a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter and Derion Williams returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to prop up a staggering Blue Hawk football team, which ratcheted up their intensity in the second half to claim a 29-20 Dakota Athletic Conference victory at the Badlands Activities Center.
Williams scored the first special teams touchdown of the season for DSU, which trailed 14-3 until Russell's touchdown with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
"We certainly needed everything we got," DSU coach Hank Biesiot said. "There's no doubt about that."
The 24th-ranked Blue Hawks (5-2, 5-0 DAC) outscored the Hardrockers 20-6 in the fourth quarter to win its 22nd straight game against Mines, a streak that dates back to 1985.
"We didn't play good, but we found a way to win and that's all that matters," DSU junior tight end Derek Pauley said.
Pauley caught a 21-yard touchdown pass on a misdirection screen from quarterback Cody Holland with 12:41 to play in the fourth quarter to give DSU a 15-14 advantage.
The score capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive that started at DSU's 6 with 2:37 left in the third quarter and was helped by a Mines' pass interference penalty on what could have been a three-and-out situation.
A Mines blown fake field-goal call at the DSU 10-yard line with less than 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter set up the scoring drive.
"As a head coach, I take the blame for this loss," Mines coach Dan Kratzer said. "We could have kicked a field goal and went up 17-9 and we chose to go ahead (and fake it). We thought if we didn't make it, we'd get the first down. That game's on me and that's the way I see it. That was the momentum of the game right there."
While DSU won its 12th straight DAC game dating back to last season, the Hardrockers (3-3, 0-3 DAC) have now lost three straight after starting the season with three wins.
For a while, it looked like Mines was going to get the best of the Blue Hawks' typically stalwart defense.
By the second quarter, Mines had already scored more points on DSU than any other DAC team this season and did so by using the Blue Hawks' kryptonite -- a spread offense.
After Cole Zamira put DSU in the lead 3-0 with a 22-yard field goal on its opening series, Mines used the first quarter to try and establish its rushing game with sophomore tailback Jamie Dale.
The DSU defensive front allowed just 38 yards rushing -- a number aided by five sacks -- and gave up just 53 yards to Dale, who leads the DAC with 108 yards rushing per game.
Dale did get into the end zone, though.
He punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 8:53 to play in the second quarter, just two plays after Mines opened a series by with a 57-yard pass down the right sideline to Tony Ostheimer from Joe Sanchez, who is Mines' backup quarterback and threw only the one pass.
After getting shut down on its next series, Mines took over with 1:35 to play in the first half and marched 63 yards in 1:14, capitalizing on a DSU pass interference call -- one the Blue Hawks' coaching staff vehemently disputed with officials -- on a third-and-13 at the 37.
Two plays later, quarterback Nick Russell hooked up with Tony Ostheimer on a 14-yard pass across the middle for a touchdown. The extra point gave Mines a 14-3 halftime advantage.
"They do some great things, even defensively they do some real good things," Biesiot said.
Ostheimer and Russell had big games statistically.
Ostheimer, the DAC's leading receiver, had eight receptions for 187 yards. Russell was 20 of 33 for 221 yards.
The duo hooked up a second time in the fourth quarter with a 6-yard pass on a jump ball to Ostheimer in the right corner of the end zone that put Mines ahead 19-14 with 9:39 remaining. A pass to Tyler Barth on the 2-point conversion was stopped short of the goal line.
Seconds later, the Blue Hawks took over the game.
Williams, who returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns last season but has been bottled up this year, split through a crowd and sprinted to pay-dirt. A jump-ball pass to Pauley on the 2-point conversion gave DSU a 23-20 lead.
Williams said getting the touchdown was a relief.
"It feels good, really good, especially when we were down." Williams said. "It felt really good to get a big kick return."
DSU sacked Russell for 6-yard losses on back-to-back plays on Mines' ensuing drive and then constructed a 9-play, 55-yard drive that lasted 5:09 -- all the plays were runs -- and ended with a 9-yard touchdown run up the gut by seldom-used fullback Reed Lambert. It was Lambert's only carry of the game. Zamira missed the extra point, giving DSU a 29-20 lead with 2:05 to play.
Holland and senior running back James Macey pounded the ball on DSU's final scoring drive.
Macey quietly piled up a game-high 114 yards rushing on 27 carries. Holland was 10 of 16 for 150 yards passing and rushed for 25 yards on six carries.
DSU has three weeks left in the conference season and must travel to Madison, S.D., to face winless Dakota State next Saturday.
"We've got to just keep building and focus on the next team," Williams said.
Notes: The last time Mines beat DSU was in 1977, a 21-9 win for the Hardrockers. ... DSU junior linebacker injured his left knee in the fourth quarter, but Tobin said he didn't think it was too serious. ... Russell, Jerel Hafner, and Jamie Walker led DSU with seven tackles apiece.
SDM 0 14 0 6 -- 20
DSU 3 0 6 20 -- 29
DSU-Cole Zamira 22 FG, 8:03
SDM-Jamie Dale 1 run (Andy Smith kick), 8:53
SDM-Tony Ostheimer 14 pass from Nick Russell (Smith kick), :21.4
DSU-Sean Russell 65 interception return (run failed), 5:43
DSU-Derek Pauley 21 screen pass from Cody Holland (pass failed), 12:41
SDM-Tony Ostheimer 6 pass from Russell (pass failed), 9:39
DSU-Derion Williams 89 kickoff return (Pauley pass from Holland), 9:22
DSU-Reed Lambert 9 run (kick failed), 2:05
TEAM STATISTICS SDM DSU
First downs 15 18
Rushes-yards 28-38 45-180
Passing yards 282 150
Comp.-Att.-Int. 22-45-1 10-16-1
Total yards 320 330
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-55 6-71
Punts-Avg. 7-40.9 6-36.3
RUSHING: SDM, Jamie Dale 18-53, Marshall Davis 4-8, Nick Russell 6-(minus-23). DSU, James Macey 27-114, Zach Hepperle 7-35, Cody Holland 6-25, Rashad Williams 2-(minus-3), Reed Lambert 1-9.
PASSING: SDM, Russell 20-33-1 221, Joe Sanchez 1-1-0 57, Trevor Roberts 1-1-0 4. DSU, Holland 10-16-1 150.
RECEIVING: SDM, Tony Ostheimer 8-187, Tyler Barth 5-31, Dale 4-29, Davis 3-24, Jason Beilstein 1-15, Russell 1-(minus-4). DSU, Blaine Berg 5-92, James Macey 2-12, Clint Grosz 1-24, Derek Pauley 1-20, Zach Hepperle 1-2.