Beavers improve to 4-1 with 48-7 victory at Upper Iowa
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Beavers improve to 4-1 with 48-7 victory at Upper Iowa

FAYETTE, Iowa (Eb Eischeid Stadium) - Junior running back Dustin Kroeplin (Withee, Wis.) took the opening offensive play 65 yards for a touchdown and the Bemidji State University football team never looked back as it improved to 4-1 (3-1 NSIC, 0-1 NSIC North) on the season with a 48-7 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory at Upper Iowa University Saturday. 

The Beavers rushed for 365 yards and six touchdowns in the game. Kroeplin rushed for 153 yards (9.6 yards per carry) and a career-high three touchdowns to record his second 150-plus yard game this season and the third of his career. BSU has posted more than 350 yards rushing twice this season and it also marks the second time the running game has found the end zone six times in a contest.

The Beaver defense got back to shutting down the opposing run game after allowing more than 100 yards to then-No. 11 University of Minnesota Duluth last weekend and held the Peacock run attack to 42 yards. Overall the Beavers allowed just 222 yards of offense and just seven first downs.

BSU went up 7-0 with the Kroeplin score, then the ‘Gang Green’ defense came onto the field and forced a three-and-out. The BSU offense came back on the field and seven plays later it was 14-0. Junior quarterback Lance Rongstad (Eleva, Wis.) threw for 30 yards, two receptions to junior wide receiver Matt Gandrud (Elk River, Minn.), and rushed for 23 yards, including a 15-yard rushing touchdown on the drive that went 70 yards.

Upper Iowa came back on its next play and ran for 70 yards down to the BSU six, but off-setting penalties brought the ball back into Peacock territory. After the big play was brought back, the BSU defense locked-in and forced another three-and-out. The rolling offense continued to move the ball and went 53 yards in 10 plays into the end zone as Kroeplin got his second score of the game to put BSU up 21-0.

Sophomore Larry Miller (CB, Dallas, Tex.) got the first interception of his young career on third down of the next UIU drive and returned it five yards to set-up the Beaver offense at the UIU 32 yard line. Four plays later Rongstad rushed two yards on the first play of the second quarter and scored his second touchdown of the game to hand BSU a 28-0 lead with 14:53 left in the half.

UIU finally got its first, first down of the game and it was a big one, as the Peacocks scored on their second play of the drive on a 75-yard catch and run by Jessie Hubbard.

The Beavers went up 35-7 on a senior running back Brandon Miles (Kenai, Alaska) 15-yard rush that was set-up by senior safety Dusty Sluzewicz’s (Homer Glen, Ill.) team-leading third interception of the season that he returned a career-high 54 yards down to the UIU 15. BSU then closed the half with a nine play, 55-yard drive to the end zone to go up 42-7. Kroeplin got his career-high third touchdown from three yards out.   

The BSU defense continued to stifle the Peacocks in the second half and kept them off the scoreboard. The offense cooled a bit, but posted two field goals by sophomore Zach Pulkinen (K, Minot, N.D.) from 22- and 34-yards out to own the 48-7 victory.

Miller finished with two interceptions in the game, as the Beavers totaled three interceptions. He added three tackles (all solo) to tie with five other Beavers for second most tackles in the game. In addition to his interception, Sluzewicz led the squad in tackles with six (four solo), two were for loss (-12 yards), including his first-career sack that pushed UIU back nine yards.

Rongstad was 10-for-14 (71.4%) for 92 yards passing and added 64 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Gandrud was the top receiver with four receptions for 48 yards. He is the first wide receiver to lead the team in yards this season, as tight end Brian Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.) has led the team in last four games. He had two catches for 15 yards. Pulkinen posted a career-high 12 points with six extra points (6-for-6) and two field goals (2-for-2).  

BSU was penalized just once (15 yards) for the second consecutive game. The team returned to dominated the time of possession, winning that stat line 40:17-19:43. The Beavers were 7-for-8 when entering the red zone. BSU is now 4-0 all-time against the Peacocks.

The Beavers return to Chet Anderson Stadium for the annual homecoming contest Oct. 8 against Concordia University, St. Paul at 1 p.m.

Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).