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    BHSU FB: Jackets welcome Western State on Hero Appreciation Day

    Setting the Stage: The Black Hills State University football team fell to then No. 21 ranked Colorado Mesa, 49-37, last weekend. The Yellow Jackets fell behind, 49-17, before outscoring the Mavericks, 20-0, in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Ryan Hommel threw for a career high 460 yards and two touchdowns, while also running in one score. Erick Hairston-Belcher finished with 138-yards receiving, while Dylan Reinerscaught his first career touchdown. Shandon Jones also caught a touchdown, while Phydell Paris ran for two touchdowns and 71 yards. Defensively, JJ Kilgore and Luis Bach each had six tackles. Sam Garciapulled down an interception, his third of the season.

    Last Meeting: Western State defeated Black Hills State, 27-0, last season, handing the Yellow Jackets just their second loss of the year. The Mountaineers held a 3-0 lead at halftime, and scored 24 second half points to earn the victory. Hommel finished with 167 yards, while Payten Gilmore had 96 yards rushing. Defensively, JJ Kilgore tallied eight tackles, while Kolten Johnson and Jared Tiefenthaler each had a sack.

    About Western State: The Mountaineers most recently fell to Fort Lewis, 14-13, to fall to 0-6 on the year. Western State led 13-0 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Skyhawks scored 14 unanswered points to earn the victory. Dylan Jacob threw for 230 yards and a touchdown, while Rodray Perkins had a touchdown and 122 yards receiving. Defensively, Sean Eremia had two interceptions. For the season, the Mountaineers are being outgained 427-262.7.

    Hero Appreciation Game: Saturday's game against Western State will act as a Hero Appreciation Game, honoring our military and first responders. Any military member or first responder will be allocated two tickets to the game, with proof of service.

    Fill the truck: Make sure to bring canned goods and other non-perishable goods to Saturday's game. First Interstate Bank is sponsoring a Feed Our Neighbors campaign. There will be a GMC pick-up truck available at the Joy Center during the pre-game tailgate beginning at 10 a.m. The truck will then move to the ticket gate, where goods can be brought to fill up the truck bed. Monetary donations will also be accepted, and First Interstate Bank will Double Match all donations.

    Breast Cancer Awareness Game: Saturday's game will also serve as the Breast Cancer Awareness game this season. Every October, football teams across the nation wear pink to help bring awareness to the disease that affects 1 in every 8 women. The Green and Gold will wear pink accents with its uniforms.

    Series History: BHSU is 2-3 all-time against Western State.

    Coverage: Yellow Jacket fans can catch Steve Ammerman on the call on The Eagle, 95.9 and 96.3 FM. A free webcast can be found via Stretch Internet, the official video provider for RMAC Sports.

    Temperature: The five-day forecast shows Saturday's temperature around kickoff to be 44 degrees. There is a 24 percent chance of precipitation, with a wind at eight mph.

    General Notebook

    Second half team: The difference between the first and second half performances of BHSU so far this season is stark. The Yellow Jackets have outscored their six opponents, 115-47, in the second half of their games, while being outscored, 162-73, in the first half. In the three wins for the Green and Gold this season, the offense has put up 79 points in the second half, while allowing just 16.

    South Dakota Hold 'em: The Yellow Jacket defense held SD Mines to zero points, and just 66 yards of offense in the second half. They followed that performance up by allowing just six points and 149 yards against New Mexico Highlands in the second half. Against No. 21 Colorado Mesa, the Green and Gold outscored the Mavericks, 20-14, in the second half, including a 20-0 edge in the fourth quarter.

    Rank and file: After six weeks of play, the Green and Gold are ranked in the top-five of the RMAC in several categories. BHSU is fifth in total offense (453.3 ypg), second in passing offense (280.0 ypg), and third in first downs (19.3). The Yellow Jackets are also second in kickoff returns (25.8), fourth in pass defense efficiency (123.7), third in interceptions (seven), first in opponent third down conversion (29.2 percent), and fourth in turnover margin (even).

    Take it away: After finishing the 2016 season with the second most interceptions in the nation, the Yellow Jackets are off to a fast start in that category in 2017. The Green and Gold defense had three interceptions against Adams State in week one, two against South Dakota Mines, one in the game at New Mexico Highlands, and one against Colorado Mesa. Sam Garcia leads the squad with three interceptions. The nation's leader a year ago, Drew Hebel, has one INT, while Jarrell GanawayJosh Gurnaby, and Dimitri Butts each have snagged one as well this season.

    50 points: Black Hills State put up 50 points at New Mexico Highlands on September 30. This was the first time the Yellow Jackets had scored 50 points since a 50-48 victory over Western State on November 23, 2013.

    Next man up: The injury bug has struck the Yellow Jackets this season. Three different quarterbacks have played in a game, while three different starting linebacking corps have played.

    Depth Charge: Last year's initial depth chart shows that experience has been growing with 18 juniors and nine seniors listed on the depth chart. This season, the depth chart shows 14 juniors and 14 seniors. Those players, who experienced the success of last year, will look for more this year. There are eight sophomores and 10 freshman, nine of which are redshirt freshman, on the depth chart.

    Win First: The Yellow Jackets won their season-opener for the second consecutive year, when they beat Adams State, 47-41, in double overtime. BHSU defeated Adams State, 34-33, in Alamosa, Colorado, last year for their first season-opening win since the 2008 season when the Green and Gold, then an NAIA school, upset NCAA Division II Southwest Minnesota State 21-14 on September 6, 2008.

    Captains: The Yellow Jacket captains, as chosen by their teammates, are Phydell ParisShandon JonesJJ Kilgore, and Thayer Sauter. Paris earned the Captain nod for the third-straight year, while Kilgore is a Captain for the second-consecutive season.

    Rushing King: Senior Phydell Paris owns every major rushing record at Black Hills State. He ranked second last year in the conference with 1,314 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He finished the season ranked number eight at the NCAA Division II level in rushing yards per game (131.4).

    RMAC Honors: The 2016 season led to several Yellow Jackets being honored by the conference. Head coach John Reiners was named the Coach of the Year, while Drew Hebel was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Joining Hebel on the All-RMAC First Team were Shandon Jones and Phydell Paris. Earning Second Team honors were offensive lineman Andrew Blaylock and defensive tackle Cody Benne. On the Honorable Mention team were Isaiah BirkelTravis GrovesRyan Hommel, and Thayer Sauter. All but Benne and Groves return to BHSU in 2017.

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