Beaver Football Gameday – Game 5 – September 30, 2023 – Minnesota State Mankato

The Bemidji State Beavers Football team hosts Minnesota State University Mankato this weekend for Homecoming. Our pregame show starts at 1:30pm on 92.1 The River. Listen in on the Beaver Radio Network (92.1 Bemidji, 107.9 Grand Rapids, 95.3 Thief River Falls, and 94.5 Baudette)

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The game certainly lived up to the hype and the rankings coming in. It would be a final drive that just fell short with the No. 9/7 Bemidji State University Football team falling 27-24 to No. 4/5 Minnesota State in a Homecoming Classic Saturday at a sold-out Chet Anderson Stadium in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.

Trailing 27-24 with just over two minutes to play, Bemidji State (4-1, 4-1 NSIC) moved quickly down the field and looked destined to tie or go ahead. After the defense forced a turnover that was recovered at the BSU 25, the Beavers went to work. Following a few passing plays from Brandon Alt to Sage Booker for nine yards and then eight more to Joey Baron had the ball near midfield. Then a quick pass out in the flat to Booker netted 32 yards down to the MSU 24. The drive stalled leaving BSU to try a 42-yard field goal. On the ensuing try, the kick attempt was blocked leaving Minnesota State (5-0, 5-0 NSIC) to run out the clock for the three-point win.

Bemidji State got the scoring started in the first quarter. After the Mavericks missed a chance on their opening drive on an unsuccessful field goal try, the Beavers broke through. The big play was a 16-yard pass from Alt to Booker and then a 15-yard penalty had the ball just outside the red zone at the MSU 23. Eventually faced with a fourth-and-five at the 18, the Beavers went for it with Alt finding Dhel Duncan-Busby for 16 yards down to the two. Duncan-busby eventually tallied the touchdown on a two-yard pass from Sam McGath for the 7-0 lead.

Minnesota State answered with a field goal and then a 37-yard touchdown pass to go in front 10-7 early in the second quarter.

A big defensive stop kept points off the board when Princeten Harris recorded an interception in the end zone. Off that turnover, the Beavers went 76 yards from the BSU 10 to the MSU 14 and connected on a 32-yard field goal by Marko Jovisic to even the score at 10.

On the ensuing drive, Minnesota State closed the first half scoring with a 27-yard field goal for the 13-10 lead at the break.

To start the second half, an early turnover helped spark Minnesota State. With the Beavers driving down to the MSU 18, a pass to the end zone was intercepted stopping the drive and putting the ball out to the MSU 20. On the next snap, Shen Butler-Lawson Jr., went 80 yards up the middle for the touchdown to stretch the lead to 20-10.

Bemidji State quickly responded. On the ensuing kickoff, De’vonta’ Roberts returned it 51 yards out near midfield. Alt found Booker for a 26-yard pass and later 10-yard run by McGath had the ball at the MSU 4 for a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Ali Mohamed found the end zone for the three-yard run to cut the lead to 20-17.

After some turnovers and punts, a crazy play setup the Beavers inside the red zone to go in front. Near midfield, Bemidji State was forced to punt. On the punt, it hit a Minnesota State player to make the ball live. Brice Peters jumped on it at the MSU 14. On the next snap, Booker went up the middle 14 yards for the touchdown to surge BSU back in front at 24-20.

It stayed that way into the fourth quarter when Minnesota State engineered an eight play, 57-yard drive when Butler-Lawson Jr., found the end zone from five yards out for the 27-24 lead.

That setup the final few drives that ended with the blocked field goal to secure the 27-24 win for Minnesota State.

Both teams tallied over 400 yards of total offense with Minnesota State coming away with 493 and Bemidji State with 407. Minnesota State rushed for 295 yards, while Bemidji State threw for 280 yards. There were seven combined turnovers in the game, with each team fumbling twice, while Minnesota State threw two interceptions to one for BSU.

Alt went 19-39 for 247 yards and for the first time in 17 games didn’t throw a touchdown pass. McGath went 3-4 for 33 yards and had the one TD pass to Duncan-Busby. On the ground, Booker rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Mohamed had 14 rushes for 42 yards and a score. Booker had four receptions for 67 yards. Jake Hill, Drayton Lehman and Duncan-Busby all had 52 receiving yards. Jayden Washington added a catch for 30 yards and a 27-yard reception for Baron.

On defense, Caleb Young and Stephen Hoffman had seven tackles apiece. Cole Sorby, Max Buduris and Spencer Wehr all added six tackles. Marcus Hansen added two more tackles for loss. Theodus Ringgold added a tackle for loss. For the first time this season, the Beavers didn’t have a sack.

Bemidji State will have a bye week coming up before returning to action on Saturday, October 14 at Wayne State College with kickoff set for 12 p.m.