Trio of Alaskans anchor Dickinson State defense in opening win

September 13, 2020

Three Alaskans playing defense for the Dickinson State University football team keyed a second-half shutout that carried the Blue Hawks to a 26-14 victory over Dakota State University in South Dakota.

Jayden Heartwell

Aaron Faletoi

Presley Piliati

Defensive linemen Presley Piliati of Anchorage and Aaron Faletoi of Soldotna in addition to defensive back Jayden Heartwell of Anchorage combined for five of the team’s 11 tackles for loss.

The Dickinson D-line was incredibly dominant, holding Dakota State to just 38 yards rushing on 29 carries.

Piliati, of East High fame, is a senior standout on the defense who racked up five tackles on the day.

The 6-foot-1, 285-pounder was named all-league in the North Star Athletic Conference last season after compiling 30 tackles in 10 games, including 5.5 tackles for loss.

Faletoi and Heartwell each made their college debut in this game. The last time they played in a football game they each won state championships – Faletoi with the Soldotna Stars and Heartwell with the South Wolverines.

Faletoi made two tackles against Dakota State, both for loss.

The 6-foot-2 260-pound freshman was a three-time all-state defensive player in Alaska and is already making a different for Dickinson State.

Heartwell recorded three tackles in his first college game, including a tackle for loss. Not bad for a defensive back.

Brenner Furlong football

Brenner Furlong

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound freshman was an all-state safety last season in high school and won kick returner of the year.

Dakota State features junior running back Brenner Furlong of Soldotna. He ran right into that stout Dickinson State defensive line and managed only two yards on eight carries.

Furlong averaged nearly 30 rushing yards a game last season.