Beavers earn hard-nosed victory at SW Minnesota State, 30-14
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Beavers earn hard-nosed victory at SW Minnesota State, 30-14
MARSHALL, Minn. --  One week removed from a 10-0 shutout at the hands of Augustana College that resulted in one of the most deflating losses of head coach Jeff Tesch’s 15-year tenure, the biggest questions revolving around the Bemidji State University football program were; Where is the Beaver football team we are all familiar with?  And what happened the to the squad that can out score just about any opponent on any given day, but seldom needs to due to its stingy run-stopping ‘Gang Green’ defense? 

Well, despite a sluggish first quarter effort Saturday at the Regional Event Center in Marshall, Minn., a dominant, smash-mouth second half by the Beavers answered any questions.

Bemidji State and its hard-nosed brand of football are back.

Sophomore runningback Dustin Kroeplin (Withee, Wis.) paced a ground game that surpassed the 200-yard mark with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, while BSU’s defense held Southwest Minnesota State University scoreless on a meager 108 yards of total offense in the second half to propel the Beavers to a 30-14 victory and improve to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in NSIC play.

Despite fumbling twice, turning the ball over on downs and missing a field goal in the first half, BSU managed to head into halftime trailing the Mustangs by just two points, 14-12.

After SMSU capitalized on a BSU fumble to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, the Beavers answered with a four-play, 60-yard drive of their own, capped by a five-yard touchdown scamper by Lance Rongstad (So., QB/WR, Eleva, Wis.), but a missed extra point would leave them trailing 7-6.

BSU took its first lead of the game in the final seconds of the quarter when quarterback Derek Edholm (Sr., Anoka, Minn.) connected with his fullback Nate Solors (Jr., Elk River, Minn.) from seven yards out. The Beavers owned a 12-7 lead after a failed two-point conversion.

The teams traded blows in the second quarter, but it wasn’t until the Mustangs put together a sustained, 10-play, 73-yard drive sparked by their second fumble recovery that either team scored.  SMSU used that possession to steal the lead, 14-12, with less than two minutes to go in the half.

But the Beavers asserted themselves early in the second half taking two of their first three possessions in for touchdowns, building 28-14 advantage entering the final 15 minutes of play.

“We thought [running] was something we could do going into the game and we did it early, then we were passing the ball and doing better and kind of got away from it in the red zone, and probably we were not patient enough,” commented Tesch after the game.  “So that was kind of the goal in the second half to take care of the football and finish off some of those drives. 

“We were lucky we found something to hang our hat on in the second half with power football.”

After its first drive stalled, a quick three-and-out forced by BSU’s defense put the ball back in the hands of Edholm and the Beavers’ offensive unit.  Ten plays and 56 yards later, Kroeplin strolled into the endzone untouched from 13 yards out to give Bemidji State a 20-14 lead.  One minute and 39-seconds later, Rongstad field a punt on BSU’s own 26 yardline and returned it 38 yard to spark the Beavers’ final scoring drive of the evening.  Kroeplin capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge to put the Beavers up 28-14.

The BSU defense went to work in the fourth quarter and accounted for the only score, trapping the Mustang’s in their own endzone for a safety, and stretched the BSU lead to 16 points, 30-14.

The Beavers finished with 401 yards of total offense.  In addition to Kroeplin, Edholm was 14-of-25 passing for 183 yards and a touchdown strike.  Jody Henningson (Jr., WR, North Aurora, Ill.) caught four passes for 50 yards and added 23 yards on the ground with his first carry of the season.

Led by a seven-tackle (four solo) day from Brody Scheff (Jr., S, Waconia, Minn.), the BSU defense held SMSU to just 268 yards of total offense, which included 31 rushing yards.  The Beavers got quarterback sacks from Cory Crosby (So., LB, Cold Spring, Minn.), Andrew Eagan (Sr., LB, Sauk Village, Ill.), Blake Sczepanski (Jr., LB, Stephen, Minn.) and Jordan Lardinois (Sr., DE, New Franken, Wis.), while junior safety Dusty Sluzewicz (Homer Glen, Ill.) posted his first interception of the season and added three pass break ups on the day, incluing his second interception.

The 30-14 victory marked the 11th consecutive win versus SW Minnesota State, in a string of games dating back to the 1997 campaign.

Bemidji State is back in action next Saturday (Sept. 25) when it travels to Duluth, Minn. for an NSIC North Division clash with the University of Minnesota Duluth.  Game time with the nationaly-ranked and undefeated Bulldogs is set for 6 p.m. under the lights of James S. Malosky Stadium.