BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University football team (0-2; 0-0 NSIC North) hosts Winona State University (1-1, 0-0 NSIC South) at Chet Anderson Stadium in the series’ 75th all-time installment. The Beavers aim to halt a two-game skid to open the 2015 season after facing success against the Warriors in recent years.
Bemidji State came within 21 seconds of its first win of the season a week ago, before Southwest Minnesota State University stole that opportunity. Mustangs quarterback Blake Gimbel connected with wide receiver Kevin Huot on the right sideline for a 13-yard game-sealing touchdown. The Beavers opened the second half with back-to-back touchdown drives, taking a 30-20 lead, but were not able to close out the game with two red zone opportunities in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Jordan Hein threw for a career-high 259 yards while defensive back Evan Tompkins completed an exciting 98-yard defensive PAT coming off a blocked kick.
Winona State totaled 400 offensive yards, including 303 passing yards, in a 38-7 win last weekend against Minot State University. Nine receivers caught a pass for the Warriors, while three recorded receiving touchdowns.
BSU and WSU played the first game of the series on Oct. 1, 1932, a 12-0 loss for the Beavers on the road. The Warriors lead the all-time series 43-30-1, while the Beavers lead the series in Bemidji, Minn., 18-15-1. The most recent matchup occurred on Sept. 5, 2013, a 34-27 overtime win for the Beavers in Winona, Minn. That win is part of recent success against the Warriors, as the Beavers have won three of the last five games in the series. The scoring margin is fairly even through the past five games, with Winona State outscoring Bemidji State 119-117.
Head Coach Jeff Tesch, now in his 20th season at BSU, looks for his fourth career win against Winona State. After falling in his first eight matchups against the Warriors, Tesch and the Beavers have won three of the last five.
Bemidji State: The Beavers come into Saturday’s game with an 0-2 record for just the fourth time since Tesch took the reins of the program in 1996. Bemidji State special teams mistakes proved costly in its season opening 35-14 loss to Augustana University, while BSU allowed a go-ahead passing touchdown with just 21 seconds remaining in last week’s 34-30 loss at Southwest Minnesota State.
Bemidji State was picked to finish fourth in the North Division and ninth overall in the league’s preseason coaches poll. As always, the Beavers will rely on the strength of their defense to power through the rough-and-tumble NSIC, but in 2015 Tesch returns 10 of 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball including all skill position players, which generates excitement around the Beavers offensively. The sophomore connection of quarterback Jordan Hein and wide receiver Christian Lunde have proved a skillful combo through the first two games. Hein and Lunde connected on 10 passes in the season-opener while also teaming up for a go-ahead touchdown last week. The Beavers have been able to move the ball effectively while reaching the red zone 10 times through two games, which ranks tied for third in the NSIC.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker and 2014 All-NSIC Second Team pick Colton Blascyk will shoulder the load for an inexperienced Gang Green defense, which lost eight regular starters for 2014. Freshman cornerback Gunner Olszewski has not let his inexperience affect him, as he leads the team with 20 tackles and also has one forced fumble. Blascyk follows with 19 tackles and one tackle for a loss. Junior Kameel Al-Khouri is also just behind with 18 tackles and also recorded the team’s first interception in week one.
Winona State: The Warriors will visit Bemidji, Minn., with a 1-1 record after winning a week ago at home against Minot State. Winona State was slated to finish in the sixth spot in the NSIC while finishing 2014 4-7 overall. Quarterback Jack Nelson is second in the NSIC in passing yardage with 652 and fourth in passing touchdowns with four. Wide receiver Alan May is tied for third in the NSIC in receptions with 14 after hauling in 11 in the team’s season opener against MSU Moorhead. Linebacker Collin Corcoran is tied for fourth in the NSIC with 21 tackles.
A Glance Ahead
Bemidji State closes out interdivisional play next week against Concordia University-St. Paul during its earliest game of the season at 12 p.m. Live audio will be available on the Beaver Radio Network, while live stats and video will also be available as provided by Concordia-St. Paul.
The Beavers and Golden Bears split the previous 14 matchups in the series history. BSU has won six of its last nine against CU, but dropped the most recent game Sept. 14, 2013, 17-14, in Bemidji.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).