This is the first time Dickinson State has started a 0-2 season since 2014.
The Blue Hawks will be back on the road this week as they take on North Star Athletic Association opponent Mayville State to start the conference game.
Saturday, September 18 – Dickinson State Blue Hawks (0-2) @ Mayville State Comets (0-3), Jerome Berg Field, Mayville, ND, 12:00 p.m. MST.
Dickinson State played its first home game last Saturday against Montana-Western and suffered another loss to the Bulldogs 42-30. Montana-Western has never lost to the Blue Hawks, improving its record to 4-0 against the North Dakota team.
Dickinson State controlled the first half, at one point holding a 23-7 lead, scoring 20 unanswered points.
Touchdowns from junior backers Alec Lovegren and Riley Linder and two from senior quarterback Drew Boedecker – one running and one passing – set the pace for the Blue Hawks from the start.
But the Bulldogs didn’t let Dickinson State go too far as they responded with a pair of touchdowns from their quarterback Jon Jund’s arm.
The lack of effective running play proved to be detrimental to the home side as they were shut out in the second half after leading 30-21 at the break.
Montana-Western scored 21 unanswered points as the Blue Hawks’ offense stalled. They only had 77 rushing yards at just over 2 yards per carry. It was a similar amount against Black Hills State the week before, when they finished with 72 yards.
The Bulldogs also struggled on the court. After racking up 246 yards in his first two games, running back Reese Neville had 94 yards, but needed 23 carries to get there.
Rather, it was the air attack for Montana-Western, which only had four players with a reception, but each of them was over 65 yards. Wide receiver Trey Mounts was Jund’s favorite target, catching 13 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Montana-Western scored two touchdowns in the third and one in the fourth as they pulled away from Dickinson State. Their victory improved their record to 2-1 and earned them a spot in the most recent NAIA Top 25 poll, pointing to No.23. Dickinson State fell into the top 25, getting just 12 votes in total.
Jund finished with 331 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. The Blue Hawks’ defense has four interceptions this season, two coming from first-year defensive backs Jayden Heartwell and Deavon Crawford.
While their ball peddling skills shone from the start, they were part of a unit that allowed 306 passing yards per game and 72 combined points in two games.
Boedecker finished with 299 yards in the air, his second straight week exceeding the 275 mark, but was injured late in the game and it remains to be seen if he can go on Saturday.
Junior Aaron White is reportedly next to take over as quarterback. He’s seen the action in both games this season in limited capacity, compiling 159 yards and two touchdowns.
OPPONENT OF THIS WEEK
Like Dickinson State, Mayville State is chasing its first win of the season. They lost the first three games of their season, including a resounding loss to South Dakota Mines 52-7.
The Comets fought mightily against the Division II team, managing just 78 yards of attack, including just 13 yards on the ground at 0.3 yards per attempt. Mayville State had two first downs and an average of 1.4 yards per game.
Having such a low offensive production won’t be hard to beat, which they did in the previous two games. Against Roosevelt on August 28, the Comets amassed 570 attacking yards in a 37-32 loss. The following week against Division III opponent Wisconsin-Stevens Point, they had 235 yards.
The Comets are led by first-year quarterback Tim Salmon who averages 282 yards per game, a top-15 mark in the NAIA, with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His favorite target has been first-year wide receiver Javeion Davison, who has great playing potential every time he touches the ball.
He has just 10 catches this year, but has amassed 325 yards in three games, averaging 32 yards per reception. Davison also has three touchdowns, each coming from over 45 yards. Against Roosevelt, he made 5 receptions for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Outside of Davison, the next best receiver is just 103 yards away as the Comets struggled to get their passing game on point, completing just 50% of their passes.
The running game wasn’t much better, averaging 61 yards per game. Freshman Mason Ollman leads the way with 34 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Mayville State is allowing 460 yards per game, which is a better mark than Dickinson State, who allowed 493 yards per game. The Comets also allow 40 points per game.
One of the bright spots was their ability to force fumbles, recovering five to three games.
Mayville State head coach is Rocky Larson, who is in his second season leading the Comets, leaving Wisconsin-River Falls after spending four years as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator.
Last year, the Comets went 2-7 with a 1-6 record in conference.
STORY OF THE SERIES
The Blue Hawks have seen Mayville State time and time again over the past decade. It’s a series that has been dominated by Dickinson State, holding a 14-1 record over the Comets since they first met in 2009, including an 11-game winning streak. The last meeting between the two conference opponents ended in a resounding victory for the Blue Hawks on Route 37-7.
THE KEYS TO THE GAME
Get the racing game back on track –The running game for the Blue Hawks hasn’t fully arrived this season, and this game could be where Dickinson State kicks it off. In last year’s 37-7 victory, they had 230 rushing yards with a well-balanced offense. Mayville State is allowing just under 250 yards per game rushing, the ninth worst in the NAIA. So far, the Blue Hawks have faced tough run stopping units, but if there was a week to revive the running game, this is it.
Limit big games – If there’s one dangerous element in Mayville State’s offense, it’s his great playing ability. As mentioned before, Davison has the potential to score every time he touches the ball. But outside of him, it’s relatively calm in terms of home runs, so stopping Davison will be key to setting the table defensively for the Blue Hawks.
Continue the air attack – If Boedecker can’t go, the Whites will have big shoes to fill. Boedecker is currently 11th in the NAIA with 285 passing yards per game. It will be his job to keep the offense flowing, but he will have a lot of help from his receivers. The Blue Hawks have three receivers averaging over 85 yards per game, led by junior Conor McCarvel with 103 per game. White’s limited playing time this season gives him a good chance of having similar success to Boedecker. Between Boedecker and White, Dickinson State is averaging 377 yards per game in the air, the fifth-best in the NAIA.
Continue series domination – Just two years ago, in 2019, Dickinson State scored 79 points against the Comets. They haven’t lost to Mayville State since 2011, and even that game was close, a 15-14 loss. The Blue Hawks will want to keep their wins over Mayville State and extend their 11-game conference streak. Both teams will be desperate to secure their first win of the season.