Beaver Fever Friday – Willie Spears III – Football

Bemidji State continues NCAA run Saturday at (9) Colo. School of Mines

The Bemidji State University football’s run in the NCAA Division II Football Championship continues in the second round Nov. 27 with a trip to take on No. 9 Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. The Beavers and Orediggers will meet for the first time ever at 1 p.m. CST Saturday at Marv Kay Stadium.

Bemidji State and Colorado School of Mines have never met. BSU has played in the mountain time zone three times (1-2) in program history (at Eastern Montana ‘73, at Weber State ‘77, at Chadron State ‘04).

Bemidji State continued its historic season with the program’s first ever NCAA postseason victory, a 28-24 win at No. 25 Augustana University at Kirkeby-Over Stadium in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Beavers opened the game with back-to-back touchdown drives before leaning on the “Gang Green” defense in the fourth quarter to move on to the second round.

The Beavers scored first for the seventh time this season, improving to 7-0 in those games. BSU drove at least 70 yards in four plays or fewer over its first two drives of the game. Senior wide receivers Brendan Beaulieu and Malik Williams hauled in touchdown catches for BSU before Williams added his second of the game late in the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Sam McGath ran for a team-high 77 yards on 13 carries and scored the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run.

The “Gang Green” defense held Augustana off the scoreboard during four fourth-quarter drives, forcing two turnover on downs and two punts. The first turnover on downs set up McGath’s go-ahead touchdown while the Beavers got another stop on 4th-and-10, coming via a pass deflection by junior safety Jake West, with 2:09 to play.

BSU recorded its first 10-win season in program history as Brent Bolte earned his 150th career win with the program as an assistant and head coach. The 2021 senior class became the winningest class in program history with 33 victories over the past four seasons.

Sophomore quarterback Brandon Alt threw for 326 yards on 19-of-34 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. Alt threw for at least three touchdowns for the 10th game this season and has totaled at least 250 passing yards in every game this season, the longest streak by a Beaver in proram history. He moved into second all-time at BSU in 300-yard total offense games with nine so far this season.

Beaulieu totaled 142 receiving yards and one touchdown on eight catches while Williams totaled 86 yards and two touchdowns on three catches. Junior wide receiver Dhel Duncan-Busby recorded 69 yards on five receptions while fellow junior Andrew Manuele totaled 56 yards on three catches.

Beaulieu has recorded back-to-back 100 yard receiving games, the first instance for BSU since he did it Oct. 12-19, 2019. He is three catches shy of tying the BSU single-season record for receptions (74) and has eight 100-yard receiving games in his career.

Williams set the BSU career record with 27 receiving touchdowns, holds the single-season record with 18 receiving touchdowns and is behind only Beaulieu for the most single-season receiving yards in program history.

Freshman defensive back Colton Herman recorded his second interception of the season at Augustana.

The Beavers rank fifth in the nation in passing offense (340.4 ypg) and sacks allowed (0.67 spg). BSU also ranks seventh nationally in total offense (479.8 ypg).

Nationally, Alt ranks second in passing touchdowns (46), passing yards (3,982) and points responsible for (278). He also ranks sixth in total offense (328.1 ypg) while Williams ranks second in receiving touchdowns and Beaulieu ranks sixth in receiving yards.

Head Coach Brent Bolte is one win shy of tying Chet Anderson for third-most victories by a BSU head coach.

Bemidji State garnered 11 selections to the NSIC All-Conference Teams, including five on the first team and six on the second. Earning spots on the first team include linebacker Gabe Ames, Oyedele, junior linebacker Zollie Kaplan, sophomore offensive lineman Ty Cobb and freshman offensive lineman Conor Kovas. Five of BSU’s six second-team members came on the offensive side, including Beaulieu, Williams, Alt, sophomore offensive lineman Jake Gannon, sophomore running back Makaio Harn, and senior linebacker Jaylen Jenkins on defense.