Beavers host Dragons in Battle for the Axe
Friday, November 2, 2012
Beavers host Dragons in Battle for the Axe

Setting the Scene
Date: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Location: Bemidji, Minn.
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m.
Stadium: Chet Anderson Stadium
Stadium Capacity/Surface: 2,500/Grass
Local Radio: WMIS 92.1 The River   
Play-by-play: Brian Schultz
Analyst: Steve Pappas
Sidelines: Kelly Schultz
Internet Audio: www.wmisfm.com/ and www.beaverradionetwork.com
Local Television: KBSU Ch. 17
Play-by-Play:
Scott Williams
Analyst:
Brett Leach
Web cast: http://www.nmtvsports.com/

The Game
The Bemidji State University football team (5-4; 5-4 NSIC, 4-1 NSIC North) hosts Minnesota State University Moorhead (1-8; 1-8 NSIC, 1-4 NSIC North) today in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North contest at Chet Anderson Stadium. The game is the 65th annual Battle Axe contest - a traveling trophy between the two teams. The Beavers went on the road and defeated St. Cloud State University 37-20 Oct. 27 and have won four of their last five. The Dragons fell at home to Minot State University 31-10 Oct. 27 and have lost two straight.

The Series
MSUM is BSU’s longest rivalry, as the Beavers trail in the all-time series 32-43-3, but have won 11 of the last 12 meetings, including the last at Chet Anderson Stadium last season 35-10. Since 1948 the teams have been playing for a traveling trophy called the Battle Axe. The series serves as the second longest traveling trophy tradition in Division II history. The Dragons own the Axe series 34-27-3, but the Beavers hold a plus-.500 record at home at 16-15-2. BSU head coach Jeff Tesch (a MSUM graduate) is 12-4 against his alma mater.

The Coaches
Bemidji State: Jeff Tesch is in his 17th season roaming the sidelines at Bemidji State. He has posted an overall record of 111-71 (.610), which includes a 86-54 (.614) mark in NSIC tilts. In 17 seasons, Tesch has established BSU standards for games coached (182), victories (111), career winning percentage (.610) and conference wins (86). He secured his 100th victory at BSU in grand fashion with a 30-27 overtime upset road victory at then-No. 16 Augustana College Sept. 10, 2011. Prior to his tenure at BSU, Tesch, a two-time NSIC Coach of the Year (1999 and 2006), spent 12 years as an assistant at North Dakota, two on the staff of Central Missouri and one season at Montana State.

MSU Moorhead: Steve Laqua is in his second season (2-9 in 2011) after being hired in the spring of 2011. Prior to MSUM, Laqua served as head coach for four seasons at Fargo Shanley High School. Under Laqua’s guidance the Deacons became North Dakota State Football Champions during his third year (2009) and he was honored as the 2009 and 2010 North Dakota High School AA Coach of the Year. Prior to joining the prep-ranks, Laqua served as an assistant coach at North Dakota State University (2005-07).

The Program
Bemidji State is in its 87th season of football and owns an all-time record is 328-405-24 (.449) dating back to 1926, which includes a 189-255-9 (.427) mark in NSIC play. The Beavers own five conference titles (1947, 50, 57, 59 and 2006) and count the 2006 Mineral Water Bowl as their first post-season appearance. Under the direction of Tesch, BSU has posted winning records in 13 of the last 14 years and have registered 10 consecutive winning home campaigns.

Game Quick Snap
• A win Saturday would secure head coach Jeff Tesch’s 14th winning season and 14th in the last 15 years.
• The Dragons rank near the bottom of the NSIC in all offensive categories and will go up against the Gang Green defense of the Beavers that ranks top five in four major defensive categories.
                  Category (Stats)                     NSIC Rk National Rk
                  Total Defense (315.3 ydsg)                  2                23
                  Rushing Defense (108.1 yds/g)          3                19
                  Scoring Defense (20.1 pts/g)              3                T-30
                  Passing Defense (207.2 yds/g)          4                56            
• The Beavers have improved their turnover margin during the last four game and now rank 11th in the league with a -4 margin. MSUM is tied for 12th with a -6 margin.
• The Beavers have the best red zone defense in the NSIC, allowing their opponent to score just 61.8 percent (21-for-34) of the time. BSU has allowed 17 red zone touchdowns and four field goals, while forcing two fumbles, intercepting two passes and stopping the offense on downs on four occasions. The Dragons bring in the 15th ranked red zone offense, scoring 55 percent of the time getting inside the opponent 20 (9 TDs, 2 FGs).
• BSU touts the third best red zone offense, scoring 84.6 percent of the time. The Beavers have scored 18 touchdowns and four field goals with two fumbles and one turnover on downs. 
• BSU defense ranks first in least opponent third down conversions, allowing a first down just 31.4 percent of the time (37-of-118). MSU Moorhead is last in third down conversions, finding a first down 25.8 percent of the time (31-for-120).

Season Long Count
• Ball Control - The Beavers are second in the league in time of possession, owning the ball for 32:45 per game.
• The Beavers have turned 27 first downs and 427 yards into 21 points on their first drive of the game. In its first drive of the second half, BSU has totaled eight first downs for 135 points and zero points.
• No surprise, the Beavers have scored 118 points in the first half and 63 in the second half.
• BSU leads the league in fumbles lost with 16, three more than the second most lost in the league.
• The Beavers’ 16 fumbles and eight interceptions total 24 turnovers that have led to 78 opponent points. BSU has also had three punts blocked that have totaled 21 points. Overall, the Beavers have allowed 181 points this season, more than half due to giveaways and blocked punts (99 points).
• Senior tight end Brian Leonhardt owns 1,347 career receiving yards, ranking second among Bemidji State tight ends since 1971 (Bruce Ecklund, 1,542 yards, 1980-83).
• The Beavers were 4-1 in 2011 when senior Dustin Kroeplin rushed for a touchdown and are 20-2 in his career when he finds the end zone from the backfield. Through the air or on the ground, the Beavers hold a 20-3 record. BSU is 3-0 in 2012 when he scores.
• Senior wide receiver Justin Lee went over the 1,000 career receiving yards plateau Oct. 20 at Minnesota Duluth, he now has 1,118 career receiving yards. He has six 70+ receiving games this season - including four in a row -, and posted a career-high 122 against Wayne State Sept. 15.
• Senior quarterback Lance Rongstad was named NSIC Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 4 after his performance against Upper Iowa. He totaled 228 passing yards, a career-high four passing touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 58 yards.
• He was the first NSIC Offensive Player of the Week from Bemidji State since Anthony Schreiber in 2006.
• Junior kicker/punter Zach Pulkinen was named NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week Oct. 15 after his performance against Northern State to become the first BSU player to earn special teams honors from the league since 2010.
• Head coach Jeff Tesch earned his 110th victory at Bemidji State in his 180th game Oct. 13 in the 23-6 home victory against Northern State.  

For more information on the Bemidji State football program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BemidjiStateFB or @BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/bsubeaverfootball or facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Mulitmedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.

Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

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