BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University football team (2-3; 1-0 NSIC North) is going for its third consecutive win at 1 p.m. Saturday while traveling to face University of Minnesota, Crookston (0-5, 0-1 NSIC North) at Ed Widseth Field in Crookston, Minn. The Beavers and Golden Eagles will battle for the “Hubcap” traveling trophy as BSU currently sits third in the NSIC North while UMC is tied for sixth.
Bemidji State continued its momentum against University of Mary while opening up the NSIC North schedule a week ago. After a 47-7 win to close the NSIC South schedule Sept. 26, the Beavers defeated the Marauders 39-7 to begin 1-0 in division play. The Beavers jumped to a 20-0 lead before allowing the Marauders’ only score of the day. Sophomores Jordan Hein and Tahi Nomane both accounted for two touchdowns against Mary, while junior Gena Adams added another on the ground and freshman Gunner Olszewski returned an interception for a score as well.
Minnesota, Crookston is still in search of its first win of the season, after a 62-14 loss at St. Cloud State University last week. The Golden Eagles put up 14 points in the second half against a Huskies defense that has allowed 21 points per game to date. Quarterback Tra Hearns connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Constant Jackson in the third quarter before converting his second score of the day, another 23-yard touchdown pass, this time to receiver Adam Connette in the fourth quarter.
Bemidji State and Minnesota, Crookston continue the Highway 2 series that started on Oct. 29, 1927, a 6-0 win by BSU. Saturday features the annual “Hubcap” game and UMC’s Homecoming. Bemidji State is currently in possession of the “Hubcap” after five touchdowns and one field goal helped the Beavers to a 38-3 win against the Golden Eagles in the most recent matchup in Bemidji Oct. 11, 2014. BSU is 10-1 since the inception of the “Hubcap” traveling trophy in 2004. The Beavers lead the 22-game all-time series, 20-2, but have recorded its only two losses in Crookston. BSU is 8-2 in Crookston and 11-0 in Bemidji, Minn.
Head Coach Jeff Tesch, now in his 20th season at BSU, has coached in 17 games during the series with a 15-2 record. The Beavers have outscored the Golden Eagles, 637-261, since Tesch took the reigns, averaging 37 points per game.
Bemidji State: The Beavers were 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. Junior wide receiver Juwaan Richard is proving to be a go-to reciever in a deep position for the Beavers, recording 29 receptions and 277 yards to lead the team and rank tied for fourth in the NSIC. Hein threw completions to eight receivers a week ago, while three totaled over 50 yards receiving. He currently sits in the top 10 in the NSIC in passing average per game, total offense, passing touchdowns and completion percentage. Hein, Nomane and Adams each recorded at least 79 yards on the ground, with Adams setting a career-high at 80.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker and 2014 All-NSIC Second Team pick Colton Blascyk shoulders the load for an inexperienced “Gang Green” defense, which lost eight regular starters from 2014. He is currently second on the team in tackles with 38, including 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. Olszewski has not let his inexperience affect him, as he leads the team with 42 tackles (12th in the NSIC) and has also recorded one interception (returned for a touchdown), four pass defenses, one forced fumble and one tackle for a loss.
Minnesota, Crookston: The Golden Eagles host the Beavers after starting the season 0-5. Minnesota, Crookston was voted to finish 16th in the NSIC after finishing 2014 0-11 overall. Senior defensive back Lethzee Calderon leads the Golden Eagles defense while ranking 10th in the NSIC with 44 tackles. He has also recorded five pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.
Sophomore quarterback Tra Hearns leads the UMC offense while starting two games and throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Dre Person has totaled 184 yards on the ground, averaging 36.8 per game.
A Glance Ahead
Bemidji State finishes its two-game road trip while visiting Minnesota State University Moorhead at Scheels Field in Moorhead, Minn., on Oct. 17. The Beavers and Dragons will play for the coveted “Battle Axe” traveling trophy.
The Dragons lead the 82-game series, 45-33-3, while also winning the most recent matchup, 27-21, in Bemidji Nov. 8, 2014. The two teams have been playing for The Battle Axe since 1948, the second longest traveling trophy in Division II. The Beavers trail the Battle Axe series, 28-35-3, but have won 12 of the previous 15 meetings.
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).