BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Wicked White offense prevailed 49-25 against the Gang Green defense in the annual Bemidji State University football Green/White Spring Game at Chet Anderson Stadium Thursday that capped 2012 spring practice for the Beavers. The quarterbacking crew of senior Lance Rongstad (Eleva Wis.), junior Alex Hass (Milaca, Minn.) and sophomore Sam King (Grand Forks, N.D.) combined to go 20-for-29 for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
BSU uses a unique scoring system for its annual spring scrimmage. The game is divided into four 15-play quarters, with play allowed to continue beyond 15 plays if the offense is driving. The offense is awarded one point for a first down, six points for a touchdown, one point for an extra point, three points for a field goal and one point for a penalty against the defense. The defense can score two points for preventing the offense from gaining a first down, a missed field goal or safety, six points for a turnover and one point for a penalty against the offense.
The Wicked White jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on the third play of the game as Rongstad connected with senior tight end Brian Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.) for a 77-yard catch and run for a touchdown. The Gang Green settled in on the second drive and forced the offense three-and-out for a two point score and the game was 7-2. The offense then put together an eight-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by a five yard touchdown run by senior running back Brad Hemling (Richland Center, Wis.) to open up a 17-2 lead.
The first quarter ended with the Wicked White leading 17-2, but the defense battled back in the second quarter to open a 20-17 lead by stopping the offense on five straight drives. The Gang Green defense tied the game 17-17 with an interception by freshman defensive lineman Kevin Longtin (Plummer, Minn.) that was tipped up by sophomore linebacker Evan Olson (Bemidji, Minn.).
On the ninth drive of the day the Beaver offense broke the Gang Green momentum and went 60 yards to the end zone to take a 28-20 lead into halftime. Hass connected with senior tight end Troy Dale (Portland, N.D.) for the score that put the offense back in the lead.
After the defense forced a stop on the first drive of the second half to cut the deficit to 28-22 it was all offense the rest of the way. The 11th drive saw King and the Beaver offense march 75 yards on 15 plays to cross the goal line to open a 39-23 lead that took the contest into the fourth quarter. The offensive drive was capped by a King-senior Christian Metz (WR, Cambridge, Minn.) connection for 27 yards.
The Wicked White found the end zone one more time on the 14th and final drive of the spring game, getting a one-yard, up-the-gut run by freshman running back Tony Peterson (Frederic, Wis.). Peterson had 26 of his 40 yards in the drive.
In the end the Wicked White earned their second consecutive victory and another year of bragging rights. Rongstad went 6-for-9 with 139 yards, King posted a 11-for-14 game for 115 yards and Hass went 3-for-7 with 28 yards. Hemling led the rushing attack with 50 yards on 10 carries with a score and Leonhardt finished with 126 yards on four receptions and the touchdown.
The Gang Green were led in tackles by the youth of the defensive core. Freshman Connor Quinn (ILB, Geneva, Ill.) posted eight tackles, Longtin had six tackles - including two sacks - and a interception and freshman defensive back Colton Blascyk (Kensington, Minn.) had five tackles. Senior linebacker Cory Crosby (Cold Spring, Minn.) also had five tackles.
About 70 players made up the Beaver spring roster, including 35 regulars from the 2011 squad. The 2012 captains were named before the game and the offensive group is Rongstad and Leonhardt and the defensive captains are Crosby and junior linebacker Buckley Wright (Sioux City, Iowa)
The Beavers were ranked in the national poll on three different occasions in 2011 and finished the campaign with an 8-3 overall record and a 7-3 mark in the NSIC to finish in a three-way tie for fourth in the league standings. The eight-win season marked the eighth time in program history the team had reached eight wins in a season and the sixth time under head coach Jeff Tesch. The Beaver offense finished the season averaging 26.8 points per game, while the ‘Gang Green’ defense was one of the best in the conference allowing just 16.0 points per contest to rank No. 7 in the nation at the end of the regular season.
Box score (unofficial)
Passing (c-a-yds-int-td): Rongstad 6-8-139-1-1, Hass 3-7-28-0-1, King 11-14-115-0-1.
Rushing (att-yds-td): Hemling 10-50-1, T. Peterson 19-40-1, J. Lee 1-3-0, Hass 1-1-0.
Receiving (rec-yds-td): Leonhardt 4-126-1, Metz 2-35-1, Henningson 2-27-0, J. Smith 2-22-0, J. Lee 3-19-0, Genske 2-15-0, B. Wakefield 2-7-0, T. Peterson 2-6-0.
Tackles: C. Quinn 8, Longtin 6, Blascyk 5, Crosby 5, Valentine 4, Olson 4, Favor-Jackson 4, Abaroa 4, Roelofs 4, S. Christensen 3, Young 3, Stephens 2, Mack 2, Schulz 2, L. Miller 2, D. Christensen 2, J. Syrstad 2, Bromm 2, Kallroos 1, C. Wakefield 1, Gerding 1, Carlson 1, Wright 1, Button 1.
Sacks: Longtin 2, Young 1, Roelofs 1, Olson 1, D. Christensen .5, Favor-Jackson .5.
Punts (a-yds): Pulkinen 5-154, C. Wakefield 1-31.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).