Beavers grind out 14-6 victory at MSU Moorhead, retain ‘Battle Axe’
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Beavers grind out 14-6 victory at MSU Moorhead, retain ‘Battle Axe’
MOORHEAD, Minn. (Alex Nemzek Stadium) – For the fourth time this season, the Bemidji State University ‘Gang Green’ defense held its opponent to 12 points or less, giving a BSU offense that is still trying to find a rhythm, a chance to win the game. Saturday, the stifling Beaver D-men held Minnesota State University Moorhead to six points, allowing Bemidji State to come away with a 14-6 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference road victory and retain the historic traveling trophy, the ‘Battle Axe’.

“Every time they (MSUM) had momentum or a drive going we got pressure on the quarterback and sacked him and I think that was key,” said head coach Jeff Tesch. “If the defense plays like they have all season long, with the exception of Minnesota Duluth, they will give us an opportunity to win. The offense was frustrating, just like it has been all year with penalties and mistakes., but I keep saying the offense hasn’t had its best day yet. It’s always good to win on the road and I’m glad we found a way to win.”

The Beavers forced four turnovers in the game, including a tip drill interception by sophomore Dan Christensen (OLB, Chicago, Ill.) with just over two minutes remaining in the game and MSUM in Beaver territory. The pick enabled BSU to run out the clock with sophomore Dustin Kroeplin (RB, Withee, Wis.), who totalled 91 rushing yards and the scored the second Beaver touchdown.

The first quarter went scoreless before the Beavers broke the knot with 1:50 remaining in the second quarter. BSU started at its own 19 yard line after the defense forced the Dragons to their fourth three-an-out series of the game. The Beavers then methodically moved the ball down the field, mixing passes and rushes. The 6:01 and 81 yard drive ended with senior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) hitting junior wide receiver Justin Lee (Elgin, Ill.) with a quick pass up the middle and Lee finding the end zone for the 13 yard score.  

A successful Sundby kick made the score 7-0 and that is where it stood at halftime, as the Dragons missed a field goal attempt wide right with less than a minute left in the half. The Beavers took advantage of a MSUM mishap halfway through the third quarter to gain the end zone for the second time. The Dragons were set to punt from its 24 yard line when the snap went over the punter’s head, he recovered the ball, but as he was attempting to punt was tackled and the ball went out of bounds. The ball went out at the seven yard line and one play later, Kroeplin made MSUM pay with a rush across the goal line, his sixth touchdown of the season and fourth in the last three games.    

The Dragons fired back on the ensuing kickoff with a 61 yard return. Sophomore Matt Gandrud (WR, Elk River, Minn.) made the tackle, but not before MSUM was set-up on the Beaver 19. The BSU defense stuck the Dragons on the first three plays, but down 14 and time starting to run low, MSUM went for it on fourth and two and converted. On second and goal from the five, MSUM posted its first score of the game with a touchdown. But BSU wasn’t going to let the Dragons get too excited, as Gandrud blocked his second extra point attempt of the season.

The final quarter played out the same as the first with goose eggs from both teams. MSUM had the late drive, but the Christensen pick sealed the deal for BSU.  

Edholm went 16-for-31 with 158 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore tight end Brain Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.) was BSU’s top receiver gaining 65 yards on seven receptions. Lee went for 50 yards on four catches. Linebacker Cory Crosby (So., Cold Spring, Minn.) led the team for the second straight week with 10 tackles (four solo). He also sacked MSUM quarterback Bryson Pluta, forcing and recovering a fumble halfway through the fourth quarter after the Dragons had picked-up first downs on back-to-back plays of 14 and 19 yards, respectfully. The defense combinded for eight tackles for loss, four sacks that pushed MSUM back 24 yards, three pass break-ups and two interceptions.  
The Beavers host University of Mary Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. at the Chet Anderson Stadium.

NOTES: The ‘Battle Axe’ is the second longest traveling trophy in NCAA Division II beginning in 1948...The Beavers are 26-34-3 in Axe games, winning 10 of the last 11 games...Head Coach Jeff Tesch completed his undergraduate degree from MSU Moorhead in 1978...BSU gained just 289 yards on offense, but allowed just 202, including 74 yards on the ground...Kroeplin has scored a touchdown in the last three games, four total scores.