BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Senior wide receiver Andrew Schultz (Grand Forks, N.D.) surpassed the 1,000 career reception yards plateau in grand fashion Saturday, scoring a 19 yard touchdown in a 51-12 homecoming victory for Bemidji State University as it defeated visiting Upper Iowa University.
The Beavers were also able to celebrate a homecoming victory tradition of jumping into Lake Bemidji after the game. Since the tradition began in 1995, the BSU football team has enjoyed a dip in the lake after a homecoming win 12 times. Bemidji State is just one of a handful of collegiate football fields that sit at the banks of a lake.
“I didn’t even realize I was close until one of the player’s parents said something after the Minot State game,” Schultz said. “We’ve have so many great receivers here at BSU, like Anthony Schreiber and George Kadlec, so it feels great to be recognized with those guys.”
“I couldn’t have written the script any better,” said head coach Jeff Tesch. “Everybody got to play, everybody got in the lake, no one was injured, it was a beautiful day, it really couldn’t have been more of a perfect day. We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides and played a complete game on both sides. It was a well rounded game by everybody.”
The Beavers (3-2, 2-2 NSIC, 0-1 NSIC North) took control of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest from the coin toss, winning it and electing to receive. From there, BSU ran the ball six straight times, setting-up a 24 yard field goal from junior Jesse Sundby (Argyle, Minn.). During the drive, the home team got the ground game going with two backs, as sophomore Dustin Kroeplin (RB, Withee, Wis.) carried the ball four times for 26 yards and senior Steven Battle (Grand Forks, N.D.) had two carries for 19 yards. The Beaver ‘Gang Green’ defense then forced the Peacock offense off the field in three plays and gave the BSU offense the ball back. The green and white then marched down the field and on third and nine, senior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) found Schultz for the 19 yard score that gave him 1,002 yards on his career.
On the UIU (0-5, 0-4 NSIC, 0-1 NSIC South) drive, the BSU defense forced a second three-and-out and after a 33 yard punt by the Peacocks, the Beavers had the ball on their 38 yard line. A 23 yard strike to sophomore tight end Brain Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.), followed by exceptional running from a third option in the backfield, senior Brandon Miles (Kenai, Alaska), the Beavers were down to the UIU 27.
Just when it looked like BSU was going to run away with the game, the Peacocks came up big with an interception at the two yard line that started a turnover tennis match between the two teams. The interception return when out to the 14, but an illegal block in the back call on the visitors pushed the Peacocks back to the seven. It only took three plays for the BSU defense to regain possession of the football as senior defensive end Rob Wills (Roseville Minn.) forced a fumble on a quarterback sack and BSU’s Matthew Shaver (Fr., DL, St. Cloud, Minn.) recovered on the Peacock 22 yard line. On the first play, the Beavers tried a trick play that worked a week earlier against No. 2 University of Minnesota Duluth, a reverse to junior wide receiver Justin Lee (Elgin, Ill.) where he throws it into the end zone to an open receiver. This time UIU sniffed out the play and intercepted Lee at the one yard line. Starting at their own one, the Peacocks got out to their five before UIU QB Drew Kaluzny threw the ball into the arms of BSU linebacker Cory Crosby (So., Cold Spring, Minn.) and he took it to the house for a 10 yard interception score. The extra point made the score 17-0 with 1:14 to play in the first frame.
The interception and touchdown by Crosby were his first as a Beaver. The last time BSU returned an interception for a touchdown was last season when Wills posted a 15 yard pick six at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The Beavers continued to roll in the second quarter on both sides of the ball. The offense ran 23 plays for 124 yards and two touchdowns, eating over 11 minutes off the clock. The defense didn’t allow Upper Iowa a single first down in the quarter, limiting its offense to a total of two yards in the three drives UIU had after the Beavers made it 17-0 late in the first. The two touchdown scores by the Beavers came on drives of more than 60 yards. Kroeplin got into the end zone on a four yard carry for the first score. With twenty seconds remaining in the half, Schultz got his second touchdown of the game on a 24 yard pass from Edholm. Schultz caught the ball at about the 10 yard line and then did the rest himself, making a couple guys miss and then leaping into the end zone, getting up-ended in the process and landing on his back. The extra point gave the Beavers a halftime lead of 31-0.
The Beavers solidified the victory after forcing Upper Iowa to punt on its first possession of the second half and then driving 88 yards to the end zone. Kroeplin got his second score of the day on an eight yard run, giving him four touchdowns on the season. Sundby remained perfect on point after attempts and put the ball through the uprights to make it 38-0.
The Peacocks were determined to avoid the shutout and on the next drive posted plays of 23 yards, 24 yards and 27 yards to finally breakthrough into the end zone. But BSU remained stingy and senior Aaron Roland (S, Wahpeton, N.D.) blocked the extra point to make it a 38-6 contest.
With 2:51 remaining on the clock in the third quarter, the Beavers got the ball back with intentions of running the ball and the clock out. Miles and Battle both took the ball three times to run out the third, placing BSU at the UIU 13 to start the fourth. One play into the final quarter, Edholm finished off the 61 yard drive, all on the ground, with a rush of his own that put him into the end zone. The extra point by kicker Zach Pulkinen (Fr., Caldwell, Idaho) gave the Beavers a 45-6 lead.
That would be the end for Edholm as he went 12-for-18 for 175 yards with two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. He is now responsible for 58 touchdowns in his career at BSU, two shy of second place on the school’s all-time chart. His 47 touchdown passes now places him third at BSU all-time, five shy of breaking the record (51) held by Geoff Martinson (1998-01) and Nathan Sannes (2001-05).
Sophomore Lance Rongstad (QB, Eleva, Wis.) took the snaps on the next BSU drive and didn’t miss a beat, guiding the squad to another touchdown that ended with him throwing a nine yard pass to Lee on a slant route for a 51-6 lead. A high snap on the point after attempt kept the score at 51 for the home team.
With the clock reading all zeros, the Peacocks scored on a 10 yard pass to make the game 51-12 and that is where it stood, as the referee forewent the extra point attempt and ended the game.
After the customary handshake, Beaver players and coaches ran to the lake to begin the homecoming celebrations with fans and alumni joining them from the safety of the banks of Lake Bemidji. Even first-year BSU President Dr. Richard Hanson joined the celebration in the cool water. Dr. Hanson made good on a comment he made earlier in the school year that if Bemidji State won, he would join the team in the lake.
BSU out-gained the Peacocks 471-223. The Beavers posted 281 yards on the ground from eight different players. The 200-plus yards rushing is the third for BSU this season. Battle led the way in yardage with 88, while Kroeplin had 78 with two scores. Miles pitched-in 55 yards. Schultz was the top receiver, pulling down three catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Cameron Abram (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) posted three catches for 41 yards, while Lee had 32 yards on two receptions and Leonhardt had 31 yards on two catches.
On the defensive side, Wills led BSU with nine tackles (three solo) that tied his career-high he set earlier this season against Minot State University. He added two sacks, also matching his career-high versus Minot State, that totalled 11 lost yards for UIU. He had 3.5 tackles for loss that pushed the Peacocks back 14 yards, while also forcing a fumble. Freshman linebacker Buckley Wright (Sioux City, Iowa) had a breakout performance with eight tackles (two solo). Sophomore Dan Christensen (LB, Chicago, Ill.) posted seven tackles (two solo) and a half tackle for loss, while Crosby added six tackles (two solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss to go with his interception for a touchdown.
The Beavers travel Concordia University, St. Paul next Saturday to battle the Golden Bears at Sea Foam Stadium beginning at 6 p.m.
Notes: Tesch is now 11-4 in homecoming contests...BSU is 3-0 all-time against Upper Iowa...The score by the Peacocks to close the game was the first points BSU had allowed in the fourth quarter this season...The Beavers have tallied 36 points in the fourth quarter this season...BSU was 6-for-6 in the red zone to improve to 14-of-16 (87.5%) on the season...Since 1999, the Beavers are now 11-0 when scoring more than 50 points in a game and 29-4 when allowing between 8-19 points...With 18 attempts, Edholm moves to into third at BSU all-time with 654 passing attempts...Now with 5,451 offensive yardage, Edholm is fourth on the school’s all-time list...Sundby has make 57 extra points to rank fifth at BSU all-time, he is 54-65 (83.1%).