CROOKSTON, Minn. (Ed Widseth Field) -- The Bemidji State University football team rolled up a season-high 455 yards of total offense by capitalizing on a series of University of Minnesota, Crookston miscues early to improve to 6-2 overall with a 45-6 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory today at Ed Widseth Field in Crookston, Minn.
The Beavers were led by junior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) who finished the afternoon 11-of-15 for 179 yards and a career-high five passing touchdowns. His final TD pass of the day, the 31st of his career, boosted him past Cory Wardrope (2006-07) to take sole custody of the No. 5 spot on BSU’s all-time touchdown pass list and made him the first BSU signal caller to throw for at least five touchdowns in a game since Nathan Sannes (2001-2005) tossed six versus Minot State Sept. 3, 2005.
A major contributor to Edholm’s career passing day was freshman tight end Brian Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.). The newcomer had a big day of his own grabbing four passes for 82 yards and a career-best three touchdown receptions--the first three-TD day for a BSU receiver since Anthony Schrieber (2004-07) caught three touchdown passes Nov. 9, 2007. An equal opportunity passer, Edholm threw to six different receivers with Christian Metz (Fr., WR, Cambridge, Minn.) and Adam Berg (Jr., WR. Cambridge, Minn.) accounting for his other two touchdown strikes.
On the ground, it was Dustin Kroeplin (Fr., RB, Withee, Wis.) that set the pace for a Bemidji State team that chewed up 276 yards. The freshman had his number called 22 times and recorded his second consecutive 100-game, and fourth of the season, with a career-high 127 yards, while he found the end zone from three yards out early in the fourth quarter to score his team-leading eighth rushing touchdown of 2009. Fellow newcomer Lance Rongstad (Fr., QB, Eleva, Wis.) added 86 yards on 10 carries before he was sidelined due to injury in the third quarter.
Before the Golden Eagles could run their second offensive play, the Beavers already owned a 14-0 lead.
An on side kick attempt by UMC to open the game, failed setting up a BSU three-play, 42-yard scoring drive capped by a 21-yard pass from Edholm to Leonhardt just 1:14 into the game. Eight seconds later, senior cornerback Tiger Ellison (Columbus, Ohio) stepped in front of a Tim Ennis pass for his first interception of the season. The turnover, the first of three on the day for the Beavers’ defense, put the ball back in the hands of Edholm and the BSU offense. The unit piled up 60 yards on the ground and Edholm was two-for-two, including connecting with Leonhardt from 15 yards out, to put the Beavers up 14-0 with 7:43 left in the first.
Leonhardt would latch onto his third TD pass of the afternoon to cap the Beavers’ next possession, a 10-play, 78-yard drive set up by an Andrew Eagan (Jr., LB, Sauk Village, Ill.) interception.
The Beavers took a 20-0 edge into the half and would see their lead swell to 26-0 before a Ennis touchdown pass to Antonio Williams would spoil Bemidji State’s shutout bid 35:19 into the game. Jason Bromm (Fr., LB, South Barrington, Ill.) got a hand on the point after attempt to keep the Golden Eagles at six.
BSU would bump the score to 33-6 on its next possession when Berg grabbed his first touchdown pass of the season and after Aaron Roland (Jr., DB, Wahpeton, N.D.) and Ellison snuffed out a UMC fake punt attempt to force the Golden Eagles to turn the ball over on downs, Kroeplin stretched the BSU lead to 39-6 as the fourth quarter got underway.
As time expired, BSU reserve running back Brad Hemling (Fr., Richland Center, Wis.) found the end zone for his first collegiate rushing touchdown to complete a 14-play, 68-yard drive eating up game’s final 9:15 to bring the score to its final resting place, 45-6.
Continuing a year-long trend, the Beavers’ offense dominated time of possession holding the ball for 36:22, to just 23:38 for UMC.
Defensively, the Beavers were just as impressive. Gang Green held the Golden Eagles to just 185 yards of total offense despite allowing an opponent to top the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since Sept. 5. Senior captain Jake Anderson (LB, Karlstad, Minn.) spearheaded the effort with a team-high seven tackles (two solo), which included 1.5 quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss. In addition to turnovers caused by Ellison and Eagan, Charles Hrdlicka (Fr., Wolf Lake, Minn.) nabbed his first collegiate interception.
The win not only helps the Beavers to improve to 6-2 through the first eight games of the season for the fourth time in seven years under BSU head coach Jeff Tesch, it also keeps Bemidji State in the hunt for the 2009 NSIC North title at 3-1 and sets up a huge divisional game versus defending divisional champion University of Minnesota Duluth next week.
The Bulldogs improved to 7-1 overall, 7-0 in NSIC play and continues to hold and edge in the NSIC North standings with a perfect 4-0 mark after a 31-7 victory over St. Cloud State University today in Duluth, Minn.
Next week’s premier match up between the Beavers and Bulldogs is set for 1 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium. The game represents BSU 2009 home finale.