BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University offense was clicking in the 41-13 victory against Northern State Saturday. In the win, senior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) threw four touchdowns to became the school's all-time touchdown passer with 53. Sophomore running back Dustin Kroeplin (Withee, Wis.) ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns.“It’s pretty cool,” Edholm said of the accomplishment. “A lot of good quarterbacks came through here and I had a lot of good receivers to throw to. It has been fun along the way.”
The Bemidji State ‘Gang Green’ defense was in true fashion in the game, allowing just 13 points or less for the fifth time this season. The Beavers forced and recovered a fumble and had an interception, both leading to a offensive touchdown. The fumble was caused at the BSU two yard line and was recovered at the one. The Beaver offense then methodically drove the 99 yards in 16 plays, taking 8:29 off the clock. The drive is the longest by BSU this season, inching out last weekend’s 98 yard drive that set-up a game-winning field goal.
“We came out and handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and could do whatever we wanted to do, run and throw,” said head coach Jeff Tesch. “The defence shut the run down at the line and got pressure. Dustin and Steven broke a lot of tackles, had nice holes and followed blocks. The line did a great job, Nate Solars doesn’t get enough credit for the way he blocks. It was an all around good day for the running game. Derek made himself into a heck of a player. He’s a good leader and I’m very proud of Derek today. He took (the record) away from some pretty good quarterbacks.”
Besides the 52-12 homecoming victory against Upper Iowa Oct. 2, the Beaver (6-3, 5-3 NSIC) offense has struggled to find its rhythm this season after returning all 11 starters. Saturday, all the components came together and it showed with 450 total yards of offense, including 350 yards on the ground. The last time BSU rushed for more than 300 yards was Oct. 15, 2005 against Minnesota, Crookston, totaling 358 yards. The offensive line got the whole offense rolling, protecting Edholm and opening up holes the size of Lake Bemidji for the backs. On top of Kroeplin’s career-day, senior Steven Battle (Grand Forks, N.D.) carried the ball seven times for 91 yards, averaging 13.0 yards per carry.
The Beavers pushed the Wolves offense back two yards on the opening drive of the game and then proceeded to score touchdowns on their first three drives, starting with a 63 yard drive that only needed six plays. Kroeplin was first to break the plain with a 15-yard score. The D-men then forced a punt and the BSU offense started at its four yard line. Northern State allowed just three yards on the first two plays of the drive, but on third and seven, Edholm completed a 27-yard pass to junior wide receiver Justin Lee (Elgin, Ill.) for the first down. The next two plays moved the chains, as Edholm found senior Andrew Schultz (Grand Forks, N.D.) for a 18-yard strike, then Battle rumbled for 18 more yards, placing BSU on the NSU 30. Two Kroeplin rushes later BSU was in the red zone on the 13 yard line. Two plays is all it took for Edholm to find sophomore tight end Brian Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.) for a 13-yard touchdown.
The third score of the game came was set-up by a senior Anthony Ragsdale (S, Bremerton, Wash.) interception, placing the Beavers on their own 30. The eight-play, 70 yard drive took the game into the second quarter, ending with Edholm finding Lee for a 11-yard score. The offense took just one drive off before scoring again. The defense and special teams deserve thanks for setting up the offense at the NSU 45. On the first play, Kroeplin got the ball on a delayed hand off and busted through the line, following junior Nate Solars (RB, Elk River, Minn.) up field and into the end zone. The 45-yard carry was his career long and the second touchdown of the game marked his third multi-score game of the season. He has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the last five games and BSU is now 5-1 this season and 13-1 in his career when he scores a rushing touchdown.
NSU was able to drive down 84 yards late in the first half to get into the end zone, but missed the extra point. The score at halftime was 27-6. The NSU offense continued to roll into the second half, driving 57 yards before senior Andrew Eagan (LB, Sauk Village, Ill.) forced the fumble on the BSU two yard line. Junior Brody Scheff (S, Waconia, Minn.) recovered at the one and that led to a 99 yard touchdown drive that ticked 8:29 off the clock. The drive was capped by Edholm’s career throw, a five-yard pass to Schultz. The defense came up big again to give the ball back to the offense, holding the Wolves on a fourth and three with a solo sack from senior defensive end Rob Wills (Roseville, Minn.). Taking over at their own 34, the Beavers only needed four plays to get their final touchdown of the game. Kroeplin started it with a 21-yard run into enemy territory, followed by a three-yard then 27-yard rushes by Battle to put BSU on the 15. On the next play, Edholm increased his touchdown record and found Leonhardt for the second time in the game.
The Wolves added a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 41-13, but it wasn’t nearly enough to comeback from and the Beavers earned their third victory in a row. Edholm was 7-for-15 on the day with zero interceptions and 100 yards. Lee, Leonhardt and Schultz each brought in two receptions, with Lee gaining the most yards with 38. Scheff, Eagan and junior Jake Schmidt (S, Frederic, Wis.) each totaled eight tackles. Wills had five tackles, 2.5 for loss, including one sack.
NOTES: Edholm also became the school’s all-time total offensive yards leader with 5,898...His 53 passing touchdowns surpassed Nathan Sannes (2001-05 and Geoff Martinson (1998-01), who each totaled 51...He moved into second all-time at BSU in passing yardage with 5,252, passing Sannes and trailing Martinson by 41...Since 1980, Kroeplin’s 200 yard day marks the 19th time a BSU running back has eclipsed the 200 yard threshold...BSU breaks the all-time tie with Northern State, now owning a 17-16-1 record against the Wolves.
The Beavers travel to No. 20 St. Cloud State Nov. 6 to do battle with SCSU at 1 p.m. at Husky Stadium.