Battle for the Axe signifies end of regular season for Beaver Football

Battle for the Axe signifies end of regular season for Beaver Football
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Battle for the Axe signifies end of regular season for Beaver Football

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University football program finishes the 2017 regular season with the 84th meeting all-time against Minnesota State University Moorhead. The Beavers and Dragons play for the “Battle Axe” rivalry at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at SCHEELS Field at Nemzek Stadium in Moorhead, Minn.

The Series
MSU Moorhead leads the all-time record against Bemidji State, 46-34-3, including three wins in the last four meetings. The Beavers went on a streak of 12-1 between 2000 and 2012 against the Dragons. BSU won its last game against MSUM in Moorhead, 42-28, led by a second-half shutout by the “Gang Green” defense.

Head Coach Brent Bolte, in his second season as BSU’s head coach, is 16-6 since taking the reins of the program. His 16 wins since 2016 are the most for any BSU head coach in their first 21 games. Bolte has helped the Beavers average 39.9 points per game at home during his tenure as head coach.

The Teams
Bemidji State:
The Beavers overcame an early hole Saturday, Nov. 4 to take down the Huskies of St. Cloud State and remain in second place of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division. BSU gave away three turnovers in the first quarter, the second of which led to SCSU’s first touchdown of the game to take a 7-0 lead. A failed fake field goal attempt and another turnover on downs gave up points for SCSU and led to a 10-play, 79-yard drive for BSU to tie the game at 7-7. The Huskies opened the second half with a 13-play, 78-yard drive that ultimately led to three points and their final lead of the game. The second of SCSU’s turnovers on the day allowed BSU to drive and score on back-to-back possessions in the third and fourth quarters to take the game-winning lead, 17-10.

Cold conditions again dictated Bemidji State’s offensive gameplan, as the Beavers ran the football 51 times for 199 yards, averaging 3.9 yards per rush. Senior quarterback Jordan Hein set a season-high with 111 rushing yards while junior Andrew Lackowski added 57 yards and a seven-yard touchdown run. Sophomore wide receiver Jacob Anderson scored BSU’s first touchdown of the game on a 19-yard reception midway through the second quarter. Anderson led all Beavers with 46 receiving yards on two receptions while Lackowski also brought in two catches. Junior kicker Isaac Aanerud converted the team’s lone field goal of the day, a 34-yard kick that bent just inside the upright for three points in the fourth quarter.

Senior linebacker Trysten Ross, junior corner back Gunner Olszewski and freshman linebacker Gabe Ames all led BSU in tackles with six apiece. Ross totaled two tackles for a loss of four yards while he also grabbed his first career interception. In addition to Olszewski’s six tackles, he also recorded a strip sack that was recovered by senior defensive lineman Jake Wirsching. All three of SCSU’s turnovers come on three of its last five possessions of the game. Senior corner back EJ Olszewski began the trend with his team-leading fifth interception of the season.

MSU Moorhead: The Dragons won their third straight game with a 22-16 win over the Beavers of Minot State. It is the fifth consecutive year MSUM has had at least a three-game winning streak. Sophomore running back Herman Gray rushed for 78 yards and two scores, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sophomore running back Jonathan Kabambi also added 90 yards on the ground. Freshman quarterback Jakup Sinani threw for 242 yards and rushed for 34 yards with one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Hunter Braaten totaled a game-high nine catches for 95 yards.

Braaten leads the NSIC with 6.8 receptions per game and with 68 total catches. Senior wide receiver Damon Gibson is second at 6.75 receptions per game. Senior kicker Ruan Albuquerque is second in the NSIC with a .972 extra point percentage. Sinani is 3-0 as a starter and has completed 74.5 percent of his passes this season. Sinani has five passing touchdowns and one interception with a passing efficiency of 168.17.

The Dragons rank sixth in the NSIC in scoring offense with 27.1 points per game and rank ninth in scoring defense with 24.4 points allowed per game. MSUM leads the league with 262.6 passing yards per game and is second with 430.6 total yards per game.

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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).