ABERDEEN, S.D. -- There were very few surprises in today’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) match up between Bemidji State University and Northern State University.
The NSIC North clash pitted a 3-1 BSU rushing attack that has averaged nearly 230 yards per contest to rank 11th in all of Division II against an 0-4 Wolves’ rushing defense that came in ranked 144th out of 148 Division II institutions.
That’s a match up that tips in the Beavers’ favor and the multi-faceted Bemidji State rushing attack made that apparent piling up 271 yards and four touchdown runs in a 42-20 victory over NSU.
The triumph not only allowed the Beavers to improve to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in NSIC play, it also snapped a six-game road losing skid that dated back to Sept. 13 of last season.
In all, the Bemidji State offense accumulated 411 yards, while the “Gang Green” defense forced a pair of turnovers, held Northern State to just 72 yards on the ground and 256 yards of total offense, while BSU held the ball for 33:28.
“A win like this starts with the way we controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” commented Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch following the game. “I am really proud of the way the seniors and leaders on the team got the guys ready to play on the road.”
Tesch went on to say that it would have been easy to look past the 0-4 Wolves, but he knew that injuries to key players have played a role in Northern State’s overall record and that it would be important for BSU score early to take any momentum away from NSU out of the gates.
Bemidji State was able to do just that, setting the tone early.
The Beavers fielded the opening kick off and marched 82 yards down the field, rolling up 50 yards on the ground, before Dustin Kroeplin (Fr., Withee, Wis.) scampered three yards for his first of his two rushing touchdowns on the day 4:04 later.
Despite holding just a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes, the Beavers finished the first quarter with 110 yards on the ground in a dominating 11:21 to 3:39 edge in time of possession.
Bemidji State would sandwich two more rushing touchdowns, the second of which was sparked by a Jake Anderson (Sr., LB, Karlstad, Minn.) fumble recovery, around a nine-yard TD pass from Derek Edholm (Jr., QB, Anoka, Minn.) to Brian Leonhardt (Fr., TE, Blaine, Minn.) in the second quarter to take a 28-7 lead into the halftime break.
The Beavers kept the pedal to the floor scoring on their first two possession as the second half got underway, extending their lead to 42-7.
After the defensive unit forced the Wolves into one of three, three-and outs of the afternoon, the offense answered four plays later finding the end zone on pass from Edholm to Andrew Schultz (Grand Forks, N.D.)--the junior wide receiver’s team-leading fourth touchdown reception of 2009.
Gang Green again forced NSU to punt after three plays to give the ball back to the BSU offense 1:11 later and after season-long, 54-yard completion from Lance Rongstad (Fr., QB, Eleva, Wis.) to Justin Lee (Fr., WR, Elgin, Ill.), fullback Nate Solors (So., Elk River, Minn.) pushed the score to 42-7 on an 11-yard run into the end zone.
Late in the third, the BSU defense again put the ball back in the hands of its offense, this time on Rob Wills’ (Jr., DE, Roseville, Minn.) second interception of the season. After picking the ball off at the NSU 46 yard line, he returned it 23 yards to set up a 43-yard field goal attempted by reigning NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week Jesse Sundby (So., K/P, Argyle, Minn.). The three-point attempt would be blocked by Dylan Afoa.
Northern State went to the air in the final minutes of the game and would add a pair of touchdown passes to reel the Beavers to within 22 points, but it was too little to late and the Beavers would exit with a 42-20 divisional victory.
Kroeplin, who entered the game as the Beavers’ leading rusher, added a career-best 112 yards and two touchdowns to his impressive rookie campaign. Change-of-pace quarterback Rongstad also rushed for 69 yards on 12 attempts, while Edholm posted his team-leading seventh rushing touchdown of the season and accumulated 32 yards on three carries.
Edholm finished the day completing 6-of-10 passes with a pair of TD strikes, while throwing just his second interception of the season. Rongstad was a perfect five-for-five through the air for 88 yards.
Defensively, the Beavers were led by safety Dusty Sluzewicz (So., Homer Glen, Ill.) who registered seven tackles (five solo), which included a tackle for loss, while he had one pass break up. Wills added four stops (three solo) and an interception and Anderson posted three tackles with a fumble recovery.
The Beavers (4-1; 3-1 NSIC) now return home for a Oct. 3 homecoming match up with NSIC foe St. Cloud State University (2-3; 2-2 NSIC). In addition to setting out in search of its first win over the Huskies since Oct. 8, 1977, BSU seeks to extend its home wining streak to eight games. The opening kick off is slated for 1 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium.