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South Dakota School of Mines football team has come to the end of the road (so to speak) on its season, when they take on the Dickinson State Blue Hawks Saturday at O’Harra Stadium in the last game of the season
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines football team has come to the end of the road (so to speak) on its season, when they take on the Dickinson State Blue Hawks Saturday at O’Harra Stadium in the last game of the season.
The Hardrocker enter the game with a 1-8 overall record and an 0-6 mark in Dakota Athletic Conference play. The Hawks on the other hand are third in DAC action with a 4-2 record and are 5-4 on the season. Saturday’s meeting is the second time this season that the two teams have met. In the first outing, back on Sept. 16 in Dickinson, N.D., the Blue Hawks hung a 33-7 defeat on the ‘Rockers.
“Our special teams killed us in that game,” said Hardrocker head coach Dan Kratzer. “We moved the ball pretty well and we scored on them, but we had three terrible punts that gave them field position and they scored right away in all three of those possessions.
“That problem has been remedied and hopefully we will have a good special teams performance this week. Now if we can just play strong offense and defense we will have a much better showing (Saturday) than the first time we played (Dickinson).”
Last season South Dakota Mines matched up with Black Hills State twice in the same season. In the second meeting, the Hardrockers gave up fewer points on defense and scored more on offense.
“I think that was an advantage for the (South Dakota) School of Mines,” Kratzer said of playing the same team twice in the same year. “We hope this will be too.”
Looking at Saturday’s game, the Blue Hawks have a pretty potent offense behind the arm of junior quarterback Brandon Bishop-Parise. They currently have the second ranked passing offense in the league, scoring 14 touchdowns and amassing 1,323 receiving yards for an average of 147 each game. Bishop-Parise is third individually completing 68 of 138 passes for 995 yards and 11 touchdowns. Coincidentally, Mines freshman QB, Jason Beilstein is fourth in the DAC in passing, completing 99-186 passes for 993 yards and seven TDs.
“We didn’t play a good defensive ball game against them the first time. They scored on three --- three to five play drives. We have to be better defensively than that,” Kratzer added.
The Blue Hawks also have a pretty good place kicker in junior Shaw O’Brien. He has 22 extra points this season and along with six field goals and ranks fourth overall in total scoring.
“Dickinson has played some close ball games and lost some close ball games,” Kratzer said. “We are going to have to play better on defense, which I think we are a little healthier this week, so we should.��
Looking at the Blue Hawks defense, they have a pair of defenders that could really cause some damage. Outside linebacker Brenner Flatten and ‘D’ tackle Kyle Pennington are tied for sixth in the standings for sacks, each with 4.5. In the first game, the Blue Hawks as a team sacked the quarterback four times, so the offensive line will have to do a good job of protecting their QB.
“We are back close to 90 percent on offense. That will be a plus for us,” Kratzer said.
In the 12-6 loss last week that gave the Mayville Comets their first win of the season, the Hardrocker were still able to do some good things both offensively and defensively. On defense sophomore defensive back Chad Westendorf came up with an interception and moved himself to third in the DAC standings with four for the year. Teammate Pete Guck also shined on defense, collecting his second consecutive pick in a game. The offense got back on track and were able to efficiently move the ball through the air against Mayville. A late turnover returned for an interception was the difference in the game. As Saturday approaches and the team prepares for the last competition of the season, Kratzer said it wasn’t hard to keep the group motivated to do their very best.
“One of the keys is to perform well late in the season. After last week’s disappointing loss last week, we have to come back this week and play better and end it on a good note. We have five quality seniors going out and we would like to end it on a good note for them,” the head coach said. “We are continuing to get better in some aspect of the game every week. The general public might not be able to see that, but we as a coaching staff can.”
Game time is slated for a 2 p.m. start.
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