26-yard Sundby field goal inches Beavers past U-Mary 23-22
Saturday, October 23, 2010
26-yard Sundby field goal inches Beavers past U-Mary 23-22
BEMIDJI, Minn. (Chet Anderson Stadium) – Down two with 2:02 on the clock, zero timeouts and 98 yards from the opposing goal line, the Bemidji State Beavers dug deep and set-up junior kicker Jesse Sundby (Argyle, Minn.) to be the hero. He answered the call with 21 ticks remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, booting a 26-yard field goal to hand BSU a 23-22 win against visiting University of Mary.

“I just try stay lose, keep the nerves out and keep everything routine,” Sundby said about how he approaches a game-winning opportunity. “Basically to just have an easy feeling and get rid of the jitters.”

Defense and special teams were again key for the Beavers (5-3, 4-3 NSIC). The extra point crew proved to have a game-saving day, blocking one extra point attempt and forcing another one wide, two crucial points the Marauders (1-7, 1-6 NSIC) wish they had when the final horn sounded. Sundby was perfect on the day, knocking three field goals through from 36, 28 and 26, respectfully, while adding two extra points, establishing career-highs in points (11), field goals made (3) and longest field goal (36). Plus, he punted six times for 250 yards (41.7 yards per kick), with a long of 58 and a touchback.

The defense posted its third score of the season when senior Jordan Lardinois (DE, New Franken, Wis.) picked-up a fumble forced by junior Alex Mock (LB, Williston, N.D.) and rumbled into the end zone from 30 yards out for his first collegiate touchdown. The defense really only had one bad quarter, allowing 19 points in the second frame. The ‘Gang Green’ defense was steadfast in the second half, just like it has been all season long, allowing just a field goal in the fourth quarter after U-Mary took over on an interception. On the score, the defense actually knocked back the Marauder offense two yards after the visiting team started on the BSU 13 yard line. The defense allowed 220 yards in the first half, but shut the door in the second, relinquishing just 42 yards on 32 U-Mary plays.
“The special teams were the difference in the day,” said head coach Jeff Tesch. “They (special teams) blocked a few extra points and I’m awfully proud the game Jesse Sundby had. The defense started slow, but played extremely better in the second half. It’s nice to have an all-conference quarterback when you have no time outs and have to go the length of the field and get a field goal to win.”

Lardinois’ touchdown began the scoring in the game with just six minutes fresh off the clock in the first quarter. Sundby’s career-long 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter gave BSU the 10-0 lead, but U-Mary then rattled off 19 straight points on three consecutive drives to open up a 19-10 lead. The last score was the result of a senior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) interception at the BSU 40 that went off a BSU wide receiver’s shoulder and high into the air, just floating in the sky waiting for a defender’s arms. The Marauders took the nine point lead into the half, looking to nab their second win of the season.

Both sides of the ball for the Beavers regrouped during the break and came out with a purpose in the second half. The Beavers put together two solid scoring drives on the backend of the third quarter, setting up a Sundby field goal after a eight play, 58 yard drive. The defense forced a three-and-out on the next U-Mary drive and the Beaver offense marched down the field and scored a touchdown after a nine play, 75 yard drive that lasted 4:01. The series ended with a one-yard rush by sophomore Dustin Kroeplin (RB, Withee, Wis.), who picked-up his seventh touchdown of the season and has now scored in each of the last four games. The score gave BSU a 20-19 lead with 1:30 left in the third frame.

Another quick stop by the defense put the offense back on the field to start the fourth quarter, put Edholm was intercepted again on the first play of the drive that put U-Mary on the Beaver 13. That is when the defense continued to stand tall and forced the field goal and the Marauders were up 22-20 with just over 12 minutes to play.  

The U-Mary defense stifled a comeback chance on the next three BSU drives, forcing two punts and then a huge fumble with five minutes remaining in regulation after the BSU defense had forced a U-Mary fumble. Senior Andrew Eagan (LB, Sauk Village, Ill.) set the table for the offense, forcing and recovering a fumble that placed BSU at the U-Mary 37. But the offense never showed up to eat as two plays later the opportunity was squandered when junior Nate Solars (RB, Elk River, Minn.) had his pocket picked and the ball went back to the Marauders.

With the clock on its side, U-Mary began to knock the seconds off by running the ball. BSU only had two time outs to stop the clock after using one early in the third quarter on a third and one play deep in Marauder territory. On fourth and inches from the BSU 46, U-Mary ran the clock down to 2:17 before calling a timeout and opting to punt. The decision to punt looked like the smart one as the ball stopped rolling at the BSU two-yard line. Now with 2:06 showing on the clock and zero time outs, all the weight was put on the offense’s shoulders. With his back to the wall, Edholm was poised and showed that the Bemidji State offense is still something to respect. He mixed out-routes to the sidelines with slants up the middle, while using a dump pass to Kroeplin that put BSU on the U-Mary 10-yard line. All the while, the offensive line held for him and when it didn’t he broke out down the field to a 21-yard gain that put the team out of the danger zone at its own goal line and a six-yard scamper on third and three to give the Beavers a first down on the Mary 24. BSU kicked the field goal on third and goal after Kroeplin was nearly stripped of the ball on first and goal, but the referees ruled him down before the ball apparently came out.

Sundby’s kick was pushed a little right, but went through the uprights with 21 seconds left. BSU freshman kicker Zach Pulkinen (Caldwell, Idaho) has proven he has a strong boot, but had only recorded one touchback - his first collegiate kick at Minot State (Aug. 26). But with adrenaline pumping and the wind aiding him a bit, he knocked the ball into the end zone to place the U-Mary offense at the 20 and stamp out any chance for a big return. The Marauders let it fly a few times down field, but it amounted to nothing and the Beavers held on for the victory.   

The Marauders couldn’t contain senior defensive end Rob Wills (Roseville, Minn.) as he totaled a career-high 14 tackles, three for a loss, including one sack. The Beaver defense sacked the quarterback four times, tying a team-high that was set four previous times this season. Senior Andrew Schultz (Grand Forks, N.D.) was the top receiver, bringing down 70 yards on four catches. Kroeplin totalled 72 yards, averaging 4.5 per carry. The win for the Beavers was their second in a row, the first time this season they have won consecutive games. 
The Beavers host Northern State Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. at the Chet Anderson Stadium.