Big plays stung University of Jamestown football early during last Saturday's 51-0 loss at 13th-ranked Dickinson State University.
Specifically, touchdown passes of 60 and 57 yards converted by the Blue Hawks in the opening quarter. The latter came on a third-and-15 just two plays after Jamestown junior defensive end Gavin Pancirov sacked Dickinson State quarterback Hayden Gibson for an 11-yard loss back at the Blue Hawks' 37-yard line.
Dickinson State also overcame both a third-and-10 and a third-and-13 in its first of three scoring drives of quarter No. 1.
"It's definitely in our memory and something we've been working on. Just making sure that those big plays don't happen," said Pancirov, a native of Las Vegas, Nev. "I think we really do a good job of stopping (teams) on first and second down, but it's those third-and-longs that we just gotta dig in and make sure we get that three-and-out."
Jamestown (1-1) kicks off Great Plains Athletic Conference play this Saturday at Rollie Greeno Field hosting seventh-ranked Northwestern College (Iowa) at 1 p.m. The Red Raiders are 1-0 after topping Valley City State 28-10 last Saturday in Valley City and boast all-conference running back Jacob Kalogonis and quarterback Tyson Kooima.
Kalogonis ranked fourth in the NAIA last season with 1,585 rushing yards as a sophomore. Kooima tossed for 266 yards, two scores and two interceptions last week against the Vikings, while Kalogonis ran for 124 yards and a score on 27 carries.
The Red Raiders, who played to a mark of 10-2 in 2017, converted six third downs in its season opener, including a third-and-10 and a third-and-15.
"Their quarterback is a dual threat, and he's definitely a lot more dangerous when he gets out of the pocket," said Pancirov, as Kooima scrambled for 43 yards and a TD last week. "We just really want to make sure we keep him in the pocket and make sure he either throws the ball or we get right to him and get a sack."
The Red Raiders limited the Vikings to 241 total yards of offense, led by a fine effort from junior linebacker Sean Powell. Powell accounted for 18 total tackles and 1 1/2 of the Red Raiders' three sacks, en route to GPAC defensive player of the week honors.
"Last week we came out and we made mistakes and unforced errors," UJ head football coach Josh Kittell said. "It stalled our drives on offense and it gave up points on defense, so we have to shore up our sideline first.
"They're a really talented group and they don't make a lot of mistakes," the coach added of the Red Raiders. "They're a pretty disciplined football team, so we can't beat ourselves."
Jamestown running back Allen Jevning wasn't in pads during Wednesday's practice at Jimmie Turf Field, but the sophomore wasn't wearing any kind of visible support on the ankle he injured against the Blue Hawks, which would appear to be a good sign for the Jimmies. Freshman Josiah Cage, from Bloomington, Minn., will slide into the No. 2 running back position behind junior starter Jimmy Hatch for Jevning, who appears to have potentially dodged a bullet.
Jevning missed games against Dakota State and Presentation College due to injury last season.
"Cage, he's a powerful runner," Hatch said. "He goes hard on every run, and he's a good complement, so he's going to really get a lot of carries this week and we're just going to try to give Northwestern our best running game."
Hatch, who came to Jamestown via Sacramento, Calif., said the Jimmies made it a point this week to get after things in practice after following an emotional win over Valley City State to start the season with last week's lopsided loss. The running back ran for 68 yards against the Blue Hawks, giving him 170 yards on 33 carries so far in 2018.
"Last week was pretty sloppy, but we're picking it up and we've been having a good couple of days now," said Hatch, who led the Jimmies with 769 rushing yards in 2017. "Just more drive going into GPAC week."
Kittell said the Jimmies are preparing to start fast on Saturday, which is something that didn't happen in Dickinson. Offsetting penalties negated what would have been a large passing play on the Jimmies' first offensive drive last week, one of six UJ penalties.
"Whether we're returning the ball or kicking off, we've got to start the game on a positive," Kittell said. "Then, whether it's the offense controlling the line of scrimmage or the defense controlling the line of scrimmage, we've got to get off to a fast start, set the tone of the game early and be consistent throughout four quarters."