Nov. 3—DICKINSON — With a 34-10 road win over Saturday's foes Valley City State way back in their rear-view mirror on Sept. 30, the Dickinson State University Blue Hawks (7-1, overall) have piled up a seven-game win streak and can potentially clinch the North Star Athletic Association title as they square off at the Biesiot Activities Center on a crisp autumn day at 2 p.m. MDT in front of what should be a solid BAC crowd for the team's home-finale.
With temperatures forecast to be in the upper 40s, and with some significant snowfall last week having gone by the wayside, the game also should be a showcase of two teams that are currently hitting on all cylinders, particularly DSU, who are are coming off a 41-0 shutout over Waldorf last week.
"It's always a big battle when we get on the field against Valley City, they're well-coached and they'll be ready to play; last year we played them twice and both times we had big battles and this year we're expecting the same," DSU head coach Pete Stanton said. "There's no question that it looks like it's going to be a great day and our guys really did a good job of battling through the conditions last game and last week and this week's been great for practice; it looks like a really nice November day."
For their part, the Vikings stand at 6-2 overall, but have a three-game winning streak of their own to protect and last suffered a defeat on the aforementioned Sept. 30 date. Since then, the team hasn't exactly found the end-zone an abundance of times — with a 28-24 win over Waldorf University on Oct. 7, the Dakota State 21-14 win on Oct. 21 and a 24-7 victory over Mayville State last week — but their defense has been effective enough to help Valley City State to a 5-1 record in their last 6 games.
It's the first time this season the Blue Hawks and their fans get to enjoy a pair of home-dates in a row, and with Saturday being Senior Day to celebrate the 16 athletes who are part of the Class of '24 these subtle realities should feed the atmosphere as the prep gridiron season also is winding to a close. Almost simultaneously at 12:30 MDT, the Trinity Titans are on the road to Velva-Drake and that Class A state-semifinal game is the last of the local-area teams remaining in the North Dakota postseason, with a trip to the FargoDome on Nov. 10 on the line.
With a win, Dickinson State will earn its ninth-consecutive NSAA title, which is a goal the team sets for itself every year, regardless. A loss would send the Blue Hawks into the last week needing a win over Dakota State University — the other DSU — to take a share of the title, as the Vikings would host Waldorf in their regular-season closer. Dickinson State is on a six-game winning streak over the Vikings and owns the historical series advantage at 49-35-5.
"We did a good job in that Waldorf game of taking advantage of what they gave us," Stanton said. "We talked all week long about how important it was to take care of the ball in the cold weather and couldn't be more pleased with taking care of the ball; we didn't have a turnover, we didn't drop a ball and we didn't have a special-teams turnover."
The task for Valley City State, meanwhile, is trying to carve through what is an almost impregnable Blue Hawks run defense that is allowing a measly 58.9 yards per game, and with the Vikings unable to post more-than 28 points in a game all season the challenge also will be to stop a DSU offense that is racking up a conference-average of 41 PPG and 468.2 YPG with 208.4 of those coming mostly from standout running backs Braden Zuroff and Derion Brown.
Meanwhile, junior signal-caller Will Madler is having a field day of his own almost every Saturday with an efficient 220.9 YPG to go along with 16 TDs. The defensive side of the ball is led by Dickinson native and all-conference defensive end Krew Mathern and his 6 sacks, 2 INTs and 3.9 tackles per game, while LB Brooks Talbot is averaging 4.6 tackles per game and DB Tel Lunde is averaging 4.4 TPG of his own.
"We've done a good job all year running the football and that's been a big strength for us and it starts up front with our offensive line — they've been outstanding — and our tight ends have been blocking well and our guys in the backfield are doing a good job and making some big runs," Stanton said. "I've also been impressed with our balance all year: We've been able to throw when we need to throw and we're going to have to keep having that good balance here as we go forward to be successful."
The Blue Hawks are situated at #18 in the NAIA standings, and the game will be broadcast on video via
, with live statistics being offered through www.dsubluehawks.com/sports/fball/2023-24/boxscores/ 20231104_umbo.xml and live audio courtesy of kdix.com.
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