Bemidji State returns home to host Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday
The final stretch of the 2021 Bemidji State University football season begins with a home matchup against Southwest Minnesota State University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Chet Anderson Stadium. The (RV) Beavers hope to continue its recent success against the Mustangs with 15 wins over the last 16 meetings in the series.
Bemidji State leads the all-time series, 24-21-1. BSU has won 15 of the last 16 games against SMSU, including eight straight in Bemidji. Bemidji State scored 25 fourth-quarter points in a 25-24 win over Southwest Minn. State during the most recent meeting on Oct. 12, 2019 in Marshall, Minn. BSU scored four touchdowns over the final 10:08 of the game, including a 27-yard game-winning touchdown catch by senior wide receiver Malik Williams with six seconds to play.
Williams and fellow senior wide receiver Brendan Beaulieu both topped 100 receiving yards in the 2019 meeting, marking the first 100-yard receiving game by a Beaver in the series since 2005. The series first began Oct. 17, 1970, a 30-20 win by Southwest Minn. State in Marshall.
Bemidji State completed a second-half comeback in back-to-back games following a 42-35 win at the No. 16 University of Minnesota Duluth, snapping an 18-game losing streak and 21-game, 80-year road losing streak in the series. BSU improved to 6-2 overall and leads the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division with a 4-0 record in division play. The Beavers scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and held the Bulldogs to just 14 yards during the final quarter.
Trailing 35-21 heading into the fourth quarter, BSU’s defense forced three three-and-outs, an interception and a game-clinching fumble on UMD’s five fourth-quarter drives. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Alt threw three touchdowns to three different receivers over the final 15 minutes to secure BSU’s first win in Duluth since 1941.
The Beavers recorded four turnovers against the Bulldogs, their fifth game with at least three takeaways, and improved to 5-0 when winning the turnover battle. The “Gang Green” defense also forced UMD to a season high six three-and-outs and tied a season-high seven punts forced. BSU continued a three-game streak without allowing a rushing touchdown in the red zone and forced two turnovers in the red zone for the first time since Sept. 21, 2019.
BSU has scored at least 38 points in four games this season and improved to 29-3 under head coach Brent Bolte when scoring at least 30 points. The Bemidji State offensive line, comprised of three freshmen and two sophomores, ranks eighth in the nation in sacks allowed this season.
Alt went 20-of-40 for 269 passing yards and six touchdowns, tying the BSU single-game record set by Nathan Sanners in 2005. Alt has thrown for at least 250 yards in all eight games this season, the longest such streak in BSU history, topping the previous streak of six games set by assistant coach Jordan Hein.
Williams was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Week after recording 10 catches for a career-high 176 yards and three touchdowns. He is the first receiver in the conference to earn the offensive player of the week honor this season and is the first BSU receiver to earn the honor since Anthony Schreiber in 2006. Williams is the first Beaver to ever record multiple touchdown catches in four straight games.
After having one receiver with three touchdown catches in a game between 2009-19, BSU has had two such games this season (Bubba Peters 9/11/21 and Williams 10/23/21). BSU also had just one 10+ reception game by a Beaver between 2008-18 before Williams and Beaulieu combined for four such games over the past two seasons.
Beaulieu moved into ninth all-time at BSU in career receiving yards with 1,620 in 99 games. Beaulieu and Williams are both within 73 receiving yards of the top-10 single-season marks in BSU history. Williams’ 12 touchdown catches this season ranks second most in a season in BSU history. Williams moved into sixth all-time at BSU in career touchdown receptions with 21 while Beaulieu is three away from tying for 10th all-time.
Senior defensive back Hameed Oyedele led BSU in tackles three times this season and has been among the top two tacklers in six of seven games played.
Bemidji State received votes in the AFCA Top 25 Poll for the third time this season and was named No. 6 in the intial NCAA Division II Super Region 4 ranking. The regional ranking is the first for BSU since being ranked No. 8 in 2016.