Bemidji State season in review
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Bemidji State season in review

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Bemidji State University football team returned 16 starters from the 2011, 8-3 team and had high expectations for the 2012 season. The squad definitely didn’t expect to be sitting 1-3 four games into the season. But that is what the Beavers’ record was heading into Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North play. With a strong group of upperclassmen, including 18 seniors, Bemidji State came together and went 6-1 in the NSIC North to earn a share of the division title.

The first game of the season was an indication of the highs and lows to expect for the next 10 weeks. The Beavers jumped out to a 19-7 lead at halftime and held the same margin going into the fourth quarter. BSU, the home team, then watched Upper Iowa University post 16 unanswered points to open a 23-19 lead with less than 2:30 showing on the game clock. The Beavers put their 2-minute drill to the test and drove 75 yards in 13 plays to find the end zone with 40 ticks left. Despite missing the extra point, the BSU hung on for a 25-23 victory.

The next three games played out like the fourth quarter of that first game, but without the comeback. BSU played undefeated teams who were receiving votes in the national poll in each of the next three weeks, starting with a road trip to Minnesota State University, Mankato – a team that would eventually find itself in the national semifinal game. The Beavers fumbled three times in the first quarter, which resulted in 17 MSU points and would fail to find a rhythm the rest of the way to lose 38-10. Back home against Wayne State College, the Beavers trailed 10-0 at the half, but battled back to sit tied 17-17 with 3:15 left in regulation. This time, the road team prevailed with a late score and BSU fell 20-17. With injuries to starting quarterback Lance Rongstad, center Brett DeLange and tight end Brian Leonhardt, the Beavers headed to new-NSIC member University of Sioux Falls. The BSU defense allowed the game to stay close, as the banged-up Beavers led 5-0 at the half. BSU couldn’t hold on forever and a 15-point third quarter by the Cougars led to a 21-5 victory of USF.

Rongstad returned the next week for homecoming and guided the Beavers to a 35-2 victory against University of Minnesota, Crookston for a dip in Lake Bemidji – a homecoming tradition since 1995. The win provided some momentum heading back on the road, this time at University of Mary. The Beavers ran out to a 29-7 lead heading to the fourth, but the Marauders scored with 2:13 remaining to get within eight at 29-21, but BSU held off the comeback and won by the same score. The next week, the Beavers posted their third straight win with a 23-6 victory against Northern State University at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The high of a three-game winning streak was brought to a stinging halt at No. 7 University of Minnesota Duluth. BSU forced a fumble on the first UMD possession, but the Beavers coughed the ball back up and five plays later allowed a 64-yard touchdown pass and run. The turnover was one of four and BSU limped out of Duluth after suffering a 30-0 loss.

Instead of packing it up for the season, the Beavers went on the road and embarrassed St. Cloud State University. The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, but BSU posted a 23-6 advantage during the next two frames to open a 30-13 lead. The Beavers would eventually win 37-20 for their first victory in St. Cloud, Minn. since 1965.

A solid effort for four complete quarters against Minnesota State University Moorhead the next week provided Bemidji State with a 35-25 victory and retention of the Battle Axe – a traveling trophy traded between the teams since 1948. Knowing a win would secure at least a share of the NSIC North Division title, the Beavers took to “The Chet” and posted a 49-0 rout of Minot State University. The victory handed BSU an overall record of 7-4 – the 13th above. 500 season in the last 14 seasons – but more importantly, a 6-1 North record to share the title with UMD.

2012 Athletic Honors:

All-American
Beyond College Sports Network
Brian Leonhardt (TE) – First Team

All-Region
Daktronics, Inc.
Cory Crosby (ILB) – First Team

Don Hanson Football Gazette
Cory Crosby (ILB) – Third Team
Brett DeLange (C) – Third Team

All-NSIC
Brett DeLange (C) – First Team
Brian Leonhardt (TE) – First Team
Cory Crosby (ILB) – First Team

Justin Lee (WR) – Second Team
Charles Hrdlicka (CB) – Second Team
Connor Quinn (OLB) – Second Team

Alonzo Melton (OL) – Honorable Mention
Dustin Kroeplin (RB) – Honorable Mention
Lance Rongstad (QB) – Honorable Mention
Bryan Syrstad (DL) – Honorable Mention

NSIC Player of the Week
Lance Rongstad – Offense (Sept. 6)
Zach Pulkinen – Special Teams (Oct. 10)
Cory Crosby – Defense (Nov. 5)

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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