Beaver Fever Friday – Malik Williams – Football

Bemidji State, No. 16 Minnesota Duluth on tap for crucial NSIC North matchup Saturday

Saturday afternoon will feature a crucial Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division matchup as the Bemidji State University football team travels to face the No. 16 University of Minnesota Duluth. The Beavers and Bulldogs will meet for the 60th game of the series at 2 p.m. from Malosky Stadium in Duluth, Minn.

Minnesota Duluth leads the all-time series, 48-10-1. Bemidji State has won just one of 27 games played in Duluth, coming in 1941. UMD has won the last 18 games of the series, including a 42-7 decision during the most recent meeting on Sept. 28, 2019 in Bemidji. UMD has been ranked in 10 of the last 12 meetings. The series first began Nov. 14, 1931, a 14-0 win by Bemidji State in Bemidji.

Bemidji State erased a 19-point deficit during a second-half comeback in the 72nd Battle of the Axe against Minnesota State University Moorhead. The Beavers trailed at halftime, 19-0, and scored the game-winning touchdown with 39 seconds to play of a 22-19 win. BSU improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division and has now won 15 of the last 19 in the Battle Axe series against MSUM.

The Beavers gave away four turnovers but were helped by the “Gang Green” defense that limited the Dragons offense to just nine points off turnovers. The BSU defense also limited MSUM to just 5-of-18 (28%) on third downs and allowed only one offensive touchdown. After allowing a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, BSU held MSUM off the scoreboard for the final 43 minutes of game time. BSU held the ball for fewer than three minutes on each of its nine first-half possessions and ran just 10 plays on the MSUM side of the field. Each team went on just five second-half drives, including back-to-back touchdowns drives for the Beavers out of the halftime break to trail 19-14. Bemidji State held the ball for 9:30 in the fourth quarter and went 13 plays and 67 yards on the game-winning drive.

BSU ran the ball nine times on its final drive, including seven straight from sophomore running back Makaio Harn. On its fifth and final fourth-down attempt of the game, sophomore quarterback Brandon Alt found senior wide receiver Malik Williams in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown with 39 seconds to play. Senior wide receiver Brendan Beaulieu caught a two-point conversion to put BSU ahead by three, 22-19.

The Dragons missed two field goals, including a block by junior defensive end Colbey Wadsworth, and one extra point attempt. Bemidji State finished with 389 total yards and 23 first downs compared to 335 yards and 19 first down for MSU Moorhead. The Beavers converted 12-of-23 third downs and went 2-of-4 in the red zone.

Williams caught seven passes for 99 yards with touchdowns of 30 and seven yards. He has now caught multiple touchdowns in three straight games and four times this season. Williams has caught nine touchdown passes in each of his two seasons at BSU, joining alum Ryan Welle as the only Beavers to record as many receiving touchdowns in multiple seasons with the Beavers. Williams’ nine touchdown catches ranks eighth in the nation this season.

Alt finished 30-of-45 for 298 yards and three touchdowns, also finding Beaulieu for his fourth touchdown catch of the year. Alt is the first Beaver to complete at least 30 passes in a game since Derek Edholm in 2008.

Alt moved into eighth for most passing yards in a season at BSU with 2,271, which ranks fourth in the nation this season, and moved into a tie for ninth in a single season with 22 passing touchdowns, tying special teams coordinator Jordan Hein in 2015. Alt also placed himself seventh all-time at BSU with 31 career passing touchdowns while he is 296 yards shy of 10th all-time at BSU.

Senior defensive back Hameed Oyedele led BSU in tackles twice this season and has been among the top two tacklers in five of six games played. Junior defensive back Jake West recorded his team-high third interception of the season, including one in back-to-back games.

Bemidji State continues to rank among the top 10 nationally and second in the NSIC in passing offense at 335.3 yards per game.