BEMIDJI, Minn. -- From the late afternoon Fourth Annual Community Appreciation food and events to the fireworks display over Lake Bemidji after dark, there was plenty to celebrate Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. Sandwiched between was a 47-20 BSU victory over Minot State University in the 11th Annual Beaver Bash to extend BSU wining streak over MSU to seven games, while the Beavers improved to 10-1 all-time versus their namesakes to the west.
Bemidji State set the tone early scoring on its first four possessions while utilizing its size, strength and experience up front to clear the way for Dustin Kroeplin (Fr, RB, Withee, Wis.) and the BSU running attack.
In his collegiate debut the redshirt freshman piled up 108 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
“We really needed him to come through for us tonight,” said BSU Head Coach Jeff Tesch. “That is the kind of runner he is. He might not be that nifty, but he runs hard and he’s got more speed than you might think.”
In addition to Kroeplin, the quarterback tandem of Derek Edholm (Jr., Anoka, Minn.) and Lance Rongstad (Fr., Eleva, Wis.) added another 121 yards and three scoring plunges.
In all, BSU totaled 396 yards of offense, which included 293 rushing yards--the Beavers’ best ground effort since gained 358 Oct. 15, 2005 in a 40-14 victory over University of Minnesota, Crookston.
“I think we just controlled the line of scrimmage so well on both sides of the ball,” commented Tesch. “We scored the first three or four times we got the ball and were able to run the ball, use play-action and do a lot of things offensively. Defensively we made it tough on [Minot State] by forcing them into some third-and-long situations and they only converted about 10-percent of them.”
After forcing Minot State into a three-and-out to open the game, the Beavers assembled a sustained 12-minute, 44-second scoring drive to take an early lead. Kroeplin totaled 39 yards on eight carries including a two-yard touchdown plunge to get the Beavers on the board, 6-0.
MSU bounced back just 1:10 later to take a 7-6 lead when Jon Meier found Johnny Lester from 26-yards out.
Edholm would tack on eight points with a 10-yard scamper as time ran out on the first quarter to put the Beavers up 14-7.
After yet another three-and-out, a botched snap to the punter set the Bemidji State up for a six-play scoring drive as the Beavers took over possession on MSU’s 33 yard line. Kroeplin plowed into the endzone form two yards out to cap the drive 2:49 later.
BSU increased its lead to 20 points, 27-7 before the end of the half as Edholm went three-for-three for 49 yards, including a 38-yard pass to Cameron Abram (So., WR, Brooklyn Park, Minn.) in the midst of a 10-play, 80-yard march. Edholm capped the drive with two-yard pass to Brian Leonhardt (Fr., TE, Blaine, Minn.) for his first collegiate grab.
Edholm finished play completing six of 10 pass attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Despite adding a pair of Nik Levnaich field goals (43, 33) in the third quarter, Minot State went into the stanza down 40-13 after the Rongstad, in relief of Edholm, and the Beavers tagged on seven points as the third period expired when the freshman broke free for a 47-yard run for the freshman’s first touchdown as a Beaver.
Minot State would reel the Beavers to within 20 points again, 40-20, but Bemidji State junior college transfer Anthony Ragsdale (Jr., DB, Bremerton, Wash.) slammed the door on Minot state in the opening moments of the fourth stanza when he stepped in front of the Layvester James pass attempts and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.
The BSU defense, which was led by Rob Wills (Jr., DE, Roseville, Minn.) who posted six tackles (four solo), including 1.5 tackles for loss, held MSU to 216 yards of total offense and just 101 yards on the ground. Brian Wick (Sr., DT, Duluth, Minn.) added three tackles (one solo) a sack and a fumble recovery.
The Beavers, 1-0, move to 9-5 in season-openers under Tesch and improve to 10-1 all-time versus MSU.
BSU opens Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play at Minnesota State University, Mankato Sept. 5 under the lights of Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato, Minn. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m.