University of Mary freshman DeShawn Gay came to Bismarck from Columbus, Ohio, last fall to work with his stepfather in the restaurant business, not to play football.
But when the opportunity knocked and the 5-foot-9, 165-pound speedster had a chance to suit up for the University of Mary, he ran with it – and he’s still running.
“He (Darrell Mathews) put it in my ear to come here, but I had never checked the school out or anything,” Gay said. “We spoke to a baseball coach at a showcase we were working at and I sent him my tape and he showed it to coach (Josh Kotelnicki) and it went from there.”
Kotelnicki knew he had something more than a run-of-the-mill freshman on his hands.
“He’s done a real good job,” Kotelnicki said. “He’s fast. That’s his biggest strength. He has been our starter since day one of fall camp.”
In Gay’s first game, he rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries in a 35-7 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato. He exploded last week for 144 yards and the team’s only touchdown in a 48-10 loss at Wayne State.
In that game, Gay became the first U-Mary freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in a game since Jamal Lomax did that way back in 2007. Gay had a 42-yard run in the first half and scored on a 59-yard run in the second, helping U-Mary amass 312 rushing yards, a number that represents the school’s third-highest rushing total in the NCAA Division II era.
“I thought I was going to break (the first one),” Gay said. “I just trusted in the play calling.”
Gay said execution comes down to discipline in the offense.
“It’s really easy to go out of your way, out of your assignment,” he said. “Really it’s just stick to the rules as drawn up. I’m satisfied that we’re getting better week by week. We’ve got some little wrinkles we have to work out but I’m excited about this upcoming week.”
Today, the Marauders play host to seventh-ranked Sioux Falls, which has allowed minus-17 rushing yards (-.3 yards per carry) in two games. Those are impressive numbers, but Gay approaches that the same was as Kotelnicki.
“We have to not worry too much about their stats and worry about what we have to work on,” Gay said.
“I don’t have to look at their stats to know they are a good team and I don’t think our players do either,” Kotelnick added.
Kotelnicki just wants to see the Marauder keep making progress.
“Small improvements that you make add up to something significant,” Kotelnicki said. “Small improvements we’re trying to make this week are finishing drives. That’s what stopped us last week too many times was making mistakes on plays 8, 9 or 10 of a drive.”
Stringing together long drives and hoping for timely proactive passes will be a key.
“We made significant improvement between week one and week two running the ball and we did make improvement on our ability to stop the run on defense,” Kotelnicki said.
“The challenge for us is not to get in a hole right away. You get behind 21-0 in two games it affects everything you do on offense and you have to start taking risks.”
L-O-O-O-NG KICK: Minnesota State-Mankato kicker Casey Bednarski kicked a school- and NSIC-record 63-yard field goal in a win over Minnesota-Crookston.
SLINGING IT: Wayne State quarterback Zach Osborn had four TD passes against U-Mary to set his team’s all-time TD pass record with 78.
PICK 4: Southwest Minnesota State’s Je’Darien Jackson-Hanchett set a school record with four interceptions in a 51-35 win over Minnesota State-Moorhead.
QB WOES: Minnesota-Duluth used four quarterbacks in a 33-21 win over Upper Iowa. Two quarterbacks were injured and a former QB – now receiver – took a snap. Sophomore Ben Everhart finished up.
SACK TIME: University of Sioux Falls had eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss in a 37-7 win over Northern State. The Wolves ran for just two yards and in two games the Cougars have allowed -17 yards rushing.
GETTING THEIR KICKS: The U-Mary women’s soccer team beat Black Hills State 3-1 in the Rimrock Classic in Billings to improve to 3-0 on the season. It’s the first time in the NCAA era that U-Mary has won its first three games.
SEEING RED: North Dakota State ground out a 40-13 win at Eastern Washington. Bison strong safety Robbie Grimsley had two interception to earn conference co-defensive player of the week honors. NDSU allowed just 73 yards in the last three quarters. The Bison outgained the Eagles 532-204.
BALANCED: North Dakota Brady Oliveira ran for 164 yards in the Fighting Hawks’ 34-0 win over Missouri State. UND rushes for 253 yards and quarterback Keaton Studsrud threw for 273. The Bears had 211 total yards, 79 on the ground.
DIG IT: Bismarck State freshman libero Sam Anklam (Legacy High School) was recently named Mon-Dak Conference volleyball player of the week after posting 35 digs, seven assists and two aces. The Mystics are 12-3.
STEEERIKE: Bismarck State has fall exhibition baseball games scheduled at Minot State (Sept. 25), at Northern State (Sept. 27) and with U-Mary (Oct. 3).