This weekend was the home opener and first game for the Dakota State Football team. They took on the Peru State Bobcats at Trojan Field. The football team struggled last year only winning one game against Briar Cliff, so the Trojans were looking to start the year off right with a win. They started off well in the first half but didn’t capitalize on some key opportunities to score, losing 35-27. The defense also gave up some huge plays that helped swing the momentum in Peru States favor.
The Bobcats struck first with a 66-yard run by the fullback Ryan Ludlow. The defense started to settle in after they gave up that big play. The offense struggled to establish the run and had a few three-and-outs, but finally got on the board early in the second quarter. Brandon Large scrambled for a 20-yard touchdown run to tie it up at seven. After the touchdown by Large, both teams went back and forth battling for field position. The Trojans finally got into field goal range with about 3:51 left on the clock. Freshman kicker Nick Behrens buried a 42-yard field goal to take a three-point lead into halftime.
Coming out of halftime was a nightmare for the Trojans. It only took Peru State two plays to score on a 57-yard run. On the following drive the Trojans had a few good plays that were called back on penalties, which forced them to punt early. Behrens had a great punt to set up the defense in great field position. Peru State ran the triple option and scored on a QB keeper for an 86-yard run. This put the Trojans in an 11-point hole with 12:02 left in the third quarter. The Trojans bounced back with a nice return by Mike Williams, which put them around midfield. The first play of the series was a 66-yard play action bomb to Stacey Berg. The Trojans were right back in the game, only down by four.
Following that big comeback play from Large to Berg, the Bobcats had 14 unanswered points to take the lead into the fourth quarter. Brandon Large answered with another two-yard scramble to bring the Trojans back within 11. Peru State felt the momentum change and started burning the clock. The defense came up with a stop but the offense turned the ball over on a tipped ball interception. The defense got the ball back on a pick and the offense drove down and hit a 28-yard field goal to move them within eight. They attempted an onside kick with 37 seconds left but did not recover.
The Trojan defense had a very tough time stopping option and kept giving up one and two play touchdowns. The Trojans offense showed signs of improvement at times but was also riddled with penalties and blocking consistently. The Trojans had 12 penalties, which took them back 92 yards.
“You know its kind of hard to have a good game when you have more penalty yards than you do rushing yards,” said Brandon Large.
There was a very questionable third down helmet-to-helmet contact call on linebacker Eric Liles that kept gave Peru State a first down, which they scored on the next play. Offensive standouts were Brandon Large who went 26-for-40 with 341 yards and one passing touchdown. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Stacy Berg had 7 catches for 179 yards and Carl Curtis added 6 for 83 yards. On defense, Craig Hertz and Eric Liles each had 12 tackles for the Trojans. Aaron Gronwald had an interception and returned for seven yards.
Next Friday night the Trojans are headed to Mitchell to take on Dakota Wesleyan in their season opener. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.