Hank Biesiot wanted to go left. Dave Velasquez insisted he go right.
Velasquez got his way and threw a touchdown pass that helped write another page in his head coach’s chapter in college football’s history books.
Dickinson State’s senior quarterback threw two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a 3-yard strike to Presley Straub on fourth down with 22 seconds remaining that helped lift the Blue Hawks to a 21-20 come-from-behind victory over Montana State-Northern on Saturday afternoon at the Badlands Activities Center.
The win helped Biesiot tie the NAIA career coaching wins record with 256 and gave the Blue Hawks (1-2, 1-2 Frontier), who rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit, their first-ever Frontier Conference victory. Biesiot, in his 37th season at DSU, was just happy to see the team get its first win of the 2012 season.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games,” Biesiot said. “I’m happy to have one go our way.”
The coach and quarterback debated what they should do during a time out before the game-tying touchdown, all the while knowing they were looking to either pass or have Velasquez run.
Velasquez told Biesiot he felt better rolling out to his right and found Straub open on a screen pass in the front right corner of the end zone.
“He wanted to roll me out to the left,” Velasquez said. “I told him we should probably roll out to the right. It won’t be an accurate pass if we go to the left. We saw each other. He (Straub) was wide open. I gave him a little toss just like playing catch in the backyard.”
Freshman kicker Chad Bryant nailed the extra point to put the Blue Hawks ahead and MSU-Northern junior quarterback Derek Lear misfired on two Hail Mary attempts in the final seconds — including one with no time on the clock after DSU senior cornerback Mike Fisher was called for pass interference on what should have been the game’s final play.
Velasquez was 15 of 31 for 230 yards and hit seven different receivers.
He threw a 21-yard TD pass to Tanner Leak in the second quarter and a 56-yarder to freshman Wyatt Mirich in the fourth quarter — just four plays after MSU-Northern had taken a 20-7 lead with 8:22 remaining in the fourth.
“We made too many mistakes,” MSU-Northern head coach Mark Samson said. “Then we had to suck it up at the end of the game and we didn’t get it done. That’s, in a nutshell, how we played today. We should have never been in that situation to begin with. We just didn’t do things when we had to really do them.”
DSU outgained MSU-Northern 340 to 297 in total yards despite being held to just 125 yards rushing on 41 carries.
After playing to a 7-7 halftime tie, the Lights (0-3, 0-3 Frontier) took the two-score lead when Lear found Brandon O’Brien for touchdown passes on back-to-back series. O’Brien caught a 17-yard TD pass with 1:37 left in the third quarter and hauled in a 14-yard strike to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the game came when DSU blocked an extra point after O’Brien’s first touchdown pass.
DSU, which had struggled running the football much of the game, used offensive balance to fight back.
The Blue Hawks caught the Lights napping when Velasquez connected with a wide-open Mirich for his first career touchdown over the middle. They then ground out the clock on a 13-play, game-winning drive that took 4:42.
Junior receiver Jimmy Smith came up with two big catches on the final series. He dragged his feet in bounds along the DSU sideline for a 16-yard reception up to the DSU 4 on a fourthand-9 and set up Straub’s TD with a 7-yard catch after junior tailback Myren Moore was pushed back to the 10 on a pitch.
“I felt my feet drag. I didn’t know if I’d got them in bounds,” Smith said with a smile. “I was at full extension. Dave put the ball the only place he could. I did my best to get to it and ended up there, ended up coming up with it somehow.”
Lear threw for 108 yards and rushed for 70 to lead Northern. Stephen Silva rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown on the Lights’ opening drive of the first quarter.
Moore led DSU on the ground with 64 yards on 16 carries but came up short on a pair of runs from the 1-yard line late in the second quarter that would have given the Blue Hawks a halftime lead.
DSU turned the ball over on downs at the 2-yard line on that series, got the ball back on a MSU-Northern fumble on the kickoff and marched to the 14 — only to have Bryant miss a 28-yard field goal attempt into the wind with 8 seconds left before halftime.
Yet, for the first time in three tries, DSU didn’t dwell on its misfortunes from early in the game.
“We yelled the whole week, ‘finish, finish, finish,’” Velasquez said. “We got shut down on the 1-yard line and we had things go the other way. You’ve got to come back and you’ve got to finish and we did.”
Biesiot is now in a three-way tie for the coaching wins record with Frosty Westering, the former coach at Pacific Lutheran University, and Kevin Donley of St. Francis (Ind.). Donley’s Cougars were idle this week.
Biesiot, who already owns the NAIA record for most wins at one school, and Westering have all 256 of their wins at NAIA institutions. Donley had 11 of his wins come at the NCAA Division II level.
That means if Biesiot wins one more game before Donley wins 11, then he will pass Westering as the winningest coach at only NAIA schools. DSU visits Southern Oregon for the first time at 2 p.m. MDT next Saturday in Ashland, Ore.
“I know he’s not all about that, but I’m just happy we’re one of the teams that can get him there,” Straub said.
MSUN 7 0 6 7 — 20 DSU 0 7 0 14 — 21
MSUN–Stephen Silva 14 run (Trevor Baum kick), 6:59.
DSU–Tanner Leak 21 pass from Dave Velasquez (Chad Bryant kick) 8:10.
MSUN–Brandon O’Brien 17 pass from Derek Lear (kick blocked), 1:37.
MSUN–O’Brien 14 pass from Lear (Baum kick), 8:22. DSU–Wyatt Mirich 56 pass from Velasquez (Bryant kick), 6:58. DSU–Presley Straub 3 pass from Velasquez (Bryant kick), :22
TEAM STATISTICS MSUN DSU
First downs 19 19 Rushes-yards 38-189 41-125 Passing yards 108 215 Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-20-0 15-31-0 Total yards 108 215 Fumbles-lost 2-21-1 Penalties-yards 6-40 3-31 Punts-Avg. 5-45.4 6-37.8
RUSHING: MSUN, Stephen Silva 19-77, Lear 12-70, Justin Montelius 4-49, Orin Johnson 3-3. DSU, Myren Moore 16-64, Presley Straub 11-31, Dave Velasquez 7-16, Kyle Stanton 4-13, Jordan Moore 2-2. PASSING: MSUN, Lear 11-20-0 108. DSU, Velasquez 15-31-0 230. RECEIVING: MSUN, Brandt Montelius 4-46, O’Brien 2-32, Silva 2-22, Mick Miller 1-5, Johnson 1-4, J. Montelius 1-(minus-3). DSU, Jimmy Smith 5-66, Cody Clausen 3-34, Tanner Leak 2-38, Presley Straub 2-21, Wyatt Mirich 1-56, J.T. Keith 1-9, Kyle Stanton 1-6.
TACKLES (FOR A LOSS): MSUN, James Chandless 12, David Arteaga 11, Butch Hyder 9, Josh Baum 7 (1), Ryan Craig 6 (1.5), Mike Carbon 4, Jordan Van-Voast 4 (1.5). DSU, Kyle Watson 11 (.5), Jaylen Sokoloski 10, Jay Grosz 9 (.5), Nolan Schwartz 5, Cord Berg 5 (2), Colton Hill 5 (1), Mike Fisher 4. SACKS: MSUN, Craig, Van Voast. DSU, None. INTERCEPTIONS: None.