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'The Play' made Trojans historic winners in 1971 Boot Hill Bowl game
September 16, 2011
Darwin Robinson's 80-yard catch of a Daryl Fletcher pass with a little over five minutes left at the Boot Hill Bowl game on Dec. 4, 1971, along with a stiff defensive stand after that, gave Dakota State College a comeback 23-20 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State of Alva, Okla.
With that win at Dodge City, Kansas, DSC's Trojans became the first South Dakota college football team to win a postseason bowl game.
The 1971 Trojans will have their 40th anniversary reunion the weekend of Sept. 24 when Dakota State hosts Orange City, Iowa's Northwestern here at Trojan Field.
As 'The Big Play,' then quarterback Fletcher remembers it this way:
"We had a third-and-10 on the previous offensive series, and I threw a pass to Dan (Stratton). It went incomplete, but as I threw it, I saw that Darwin was open."
"Two Northwestern Rangers were guarding me at the time," added Stratton, a Wentworth native.
Fletcher goes on, "I told Darwin back on the sidelines after that series, I was going to him on the next series. Darwin was a swift runner and he caught the ball in stride (at the 45-yard line) on the first play from scrimmage."
"Darwin was damn fast when he scored," tacked on Stratton.
Coach Lee Moran remembers the play quite well.
"Both Daryl and Darwin could make things happen. We wanted to get the job done right then and there. Really, that play had worked for us all season," said Moran.
Northwestern Oklahoma State had a 20-3 lead at halftime. Dakota State's only score in the first half was a 30-yard field goal from Jim Ferguson.
The running of both Mike Reed and Fletcher, however, brought the Trojans back in the second half.
Early in the third quarter, Reed bullied his way into the end zone from four yards out. Late in the period, Fletcher raced 35 yards to pay dirt, cut NW Rangers' lead to just four points, 20-16.
At the end of the game, Fletcher was its Most Valuable Player. The Hartford, S.D. native ended up completing 15 of his 26 passes for 216 yards. Robinson, a former Redfield Pheasant, snatched eight of Fletcher's passes for 155 yards.
The win gave Dakota State a 9-2 mark, while Northwestern Oklahoma State settled for a 7-4 record.
After the season was over, Moran was named District 12's coach of the year and he was then selected as the NAIA's coach of the year.
These days you can catch Fletcher mowing lawns and playing golf in the Elk Point area. Last year, he retired from teaching and coaching in the Elk Point school system. He was a one-time president of the South Dakota Coaches' Association.
Both Robinson and Stratton gained shots at playing in the National Football League. Today, Robinson is the general manager of 10 insurance agencies in the West Fargo, N.D. area after a banking career in Redfield. Stratton is involved in agriculture. He has worked at the Chester Farm Service for nearly 10 years.
Coach Moran and his wife Maxine have lived in the Minneapolis area for the past few years. They have been involved in sporting goods sales for almost 35 years. They have operated Winning Edge Sales, focusing now in representing Cutters Performance Gloves.
Dan Holsworth, Dakota State University Athletics Assistant
Edited by Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director