BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University continues its hunt towards the NCAA Playoffs Saturday, Oct. 29 with a trip to long-time rival St. Cloud State University. The Beavers (6-2, 3-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North) and Huskies (4-4, 3-1 NSIC North) kick off at 1 p.m. from Husky Stadium in St. Cloud, Minn.
St. Cloud State leads the all-time series record, 37-19-3, dating back to 1927. The series took a 27-year hiatus from 1981-2008 and with the rivalry reborn in 2008, SCSU holds a 5-3 series lead. Bemidji State won the most recent matchup Oct. 24, 2015, 28-27, in the closest game since BSU beat SCSU 15-14 on Oct. 30, 1971.
Interim Head Coach Brent Bolte, in his 18th season overall at BSU, is 6-2 since taking the reins of the program. He helped guide Bemidji State to a 45-17 road upset over previously No. 6 ranked Minnesota State University Mankato and the program’s first national ranking since 2011.
Bemidji State: The Beavers were placed on the NCAA’s first Regional Rankings list released Oct. 24 at No. 9 of the Super Region Three despite a 54-47 loss to No. 21 University of Minnesota Duluth. The placement on the NCAA Regional Rankings is the first instance for BSU since being selected No. 10 during the 2011 season. Although the Beavers dropped out of the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, the program received votes for the ninth consecutive week to begin the season. Minnesota Duluth handed Bemidji State its second loss of the season, as both losses have come by a total of eight points. The Bulldogs jumped ahead to a 27-7 halftime lead before a wild second half, which included 49 combined points by BSU and UMD in the fourth quarter. The Beavers rallied to within a touchdown twice but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Junior quarterback Jordan Hein returned to action for the first time since Oct. 1 to throw for a career high 434 yards and five touchdowns. The passing attack was BSU’s only hope following the halftime deficit, which lead to senior wide receiver Brady Schmidt also recording career numbers. He caught four passes for 167 yards, the most by a BSU receiver since 2008, and two touchdowns. Hein found Schmidt for a 90-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the longest pass play for the program since 2001. Junior wide receiver Blake Holder also topped 100 yards with 104 on four catches and one touchdown.
A quartet of Beavers defenders were active throughout the game, each totaling at least 10 tackles. Junior linebacker Jamison Evans led the group with 14 tackles, including two tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. He also forced one fumble that was recovered by senior defensive back Kameel Al-Khouri. Senior defensive back Damon Benham and junior linebacker Trysten Ross each totaled 12 tackles while sophomore corner back Gunner Olszewski recorded 10. Benham broke up one pass in the secondary while adding an assisted tackle for a loss.
St. Cloud State: St. Cloud State saw its three-game winning streak come to an end in a 29-28 loss to Northern State University. The Huskies rushed for a season high 148 yards and added three touchdowns on the ground. Senior quarterback Nate Meyer threw one touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Nick Greenlund but senior receiver Jameson Parsons was held to under 100 yards receiving and no touchdowns for the first time this season.
SCSU ranks 12th in the NSIC in scoring offense with 26.5 points per game and fifth in scoring defense, one spot behind BSU, with 27.3 points allowed per game. The Huskies rely on their passing game, which ranks fifth in the league compared to their last-ranked rushing attack. SCSU is 11th in total defense with 424.1 yards allowed per game, which includes ranking eighth in rushing defense (171.5 ypg) and 10th in passing defense (252.6 ypg).
A Glance Ahead
Bemidji State returns home for the final two games of the 2016 regular season, which begins with a matchup against Minnesota State University Moorhead Saturday, Nov. 5. The Beavers have faced the Dragons 82 times since 1926, which is the longest rivalry in program history. BSU and MSUM will play for “The Battle Axe”, which MSUM leads 36-28-3 since its inception in 1948.
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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).