BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University football team (0-3; 0-0 NSIC North) finishes up Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference interdivisional play while taking on Concordia-St. Paul University (1-2, 0-0 NSIC South) at 12 p.m. Saturday in Sea Foam Stadium.
Bemidji State’s chances for its first win of the season came down to the final minute for the second week in a row last Saturday. After allowing a go-ahead score with 21 seconds remaining at Southwest Minnesota State University in week two, Bemidji State had a potential game-tying field goal blocked with 55 seconds remaining at home against Winona State University.
Concordia-St. Paul has opened the season 1-2, earning its win against Minot State, 28-13, a week ago in Minot, N.D. After falling down 13-7 in the third quarter, the Golden Bears scored three unanswered touchdowns to close out the game. Two of CSP’s touchdowns came on defense and special teams, returning a kickoff 98 yards and returning an interception 42 yards.
BSU and CSP head into the 15th meeting all-time between the two programs. The series is tied at 7-7 with the first meeting coming on Oct. 2, 1999, a 54-7 win by the Beavers in Bemidji, Minn. The Golden Bears won the next four of the series while the Beavers have won six of the last nine.
Head Coach Jeff Tesch, now in his 20th season at Bemidji State, has coached in all the meetings of the series against Concordia-St. Paul. The Beavers have averaged 28.3 points per game during the series while the Golden Bears have averaged 22.6.
Bemidji State: In 2015, Tesch returns 10 of 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball including all skill position players, which generates excitement around the Beavers offensively. Junior wide receiver Juwaan Richard is leading a deep receiving corps with 19 receptions for 162 yards. The sophomore connection between quarterback Jordan Hein and wide receiver Christian Lunde have proved a skillful combo through the first three games. Hein and Lunde connected on 10 passes in the season-opener while also teaming up for a go-ahead touchdown against Southwest Minnesota State. Junior receiver Jordan Noskowiak was featured at No. 3 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays with his leaping 29-yard touchdown grab around a defender’s head in the loss to Winona State. The Beavers have been able to move the ball effectively, reaching the red zone 13 times through three games, which ranks tied for fifth in the NSIC.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker and 2014 All-NSIC Second Team pick Colton Blascyk shoulders the load for an inexperienced Gang Green defense, which lost eight regular starters for 2014. He currently leads the team in tackles with 29 (ranking seventh in the NSIC), including 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Freshman cornerback Gunner Olszewski has not let his inexperience affect him, as he is second on the team with 27 tackles and also has one forced fumble and one tackle for a loss. Junior defensive back Kameel Al-Khouri is just behind with 23 tackles and recorded the team’s first interception of the season against Augustana.
Concordia-St. Paul: The Golden Bears are led by their defense, allowing 336.7 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the NSIC. CSP’s scoring defense of 23.7 points allowed per game ranks seventh in the conference, while its scoring offense of 22 points per game ranks 11th.
Senior Jordan Halverson paces the defense with a team-high 23 tackles, which ranks in the top 25 of the NSIC. Sophomore quarterback Ben Schramski started the last two games for the Golden Bears, ranking 10th in the NSIC in passing efficiency with a rating of 118.2.
A Glance Ahead
The battle for the North Division begins next week as Bemidji State hosts the University of Mary (N.D.) Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium in its Homecoming game.
The Beavers own a slight edge in the series record, leading 5-4 against the Marauders. BSU and U-Mary have alternated wins over the past five meetings, dating back to Oct. 23, 2010. Bemidji State won the most recent matchup, 21-20 on Oct. 4, 2014, after quarterback Ryan Shields threw the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter in Bismarck, N.D.
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).