No. 13/9 Beavers host MSU Moorhead in Battle for the Axe this Saturday at the Chet
Bemidji State looks to retain the axe for the fourth straight season
The No. 13/9 Bemidji State University Football team returns home to host MSU Moorhead in the Battle for the Axe this Saturday at 1 p.m. inside Chet Anderson Stadium in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. The game will be an Orange Out, with fans encouraged to wear orange. It will also be Lions Day hosted by the Bemidji Lions Club.
Bemidji State (7-1, 7-1 NSIC) jumped out to the 38-17 lead on their way to claiming the 38-31 win on the road at No. 25 Minnesota Duluth this past Saturday. Brandon Alt threw for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns to move to 105 passing touchdowns in NSIC contests. Alt is the new NSIC passing touchdown record holder at 105. Sage Booker broke off a pair of big runs to go along with seven carries for 120 yards. He had TD runs of 74 and 30 in the victory. Dhel Duncan-Busby caught six passes for 76 yards. The defense came away with four tackles for loss (Colton Herman, Theodus Ringgold, Stephen Hoffman and Marcus Hansen. Hansen added a strip-sack as well. The second straight win in Duluth is the first time in series history for the Beavers to accomplish that feat.
The NSIC standings remain close. With Augustana’s loss at Wayne State, there is a three-way tie for first. Augustana, Minnesota State and Bemidji State are all 7-1 in conference play. Minnesota Duluth is in fourth at 6-2, followed by MSU Moorhead and Wayne State in a tie for fifth.
BSU leads the NSIC in third down conversion percentage on defense (0.285), 14th nationally, in defensive touchdowns scored (2), 30th nationally, first downs allowed on defense (132), 21st nationally, passes that have been intercepted (4), 10th nationally, team passing efficiency on defense allowed per game (99.82), 12th nationally. BSU ranks high nationally in several other categories including, 26th in third down conversion percentage on offense (0.452), 11th in fewest penalties (40), 14th in kickoff return yardage allowed per game (15.31), 21st in passes that have been intercepted (13), 16th in passing offense per game (258.8), 22nd in red zone defense percentage (0.667), eighth in sacks allowed per game (0.75), 21st in scoring defense in points allowed per game (16.4), 23rd in scoring offense in points per game (36.6), 27th in tackles for loss allowed per game (4.88), 28th in team passing efficiency per game (151.55), 27th in team sacks per game (2.88), 22nd in team tackles for loss per game (7.9), 23rd in total offense per game (425.2), 19th in turnover margin (1.00), 24th in turnovers lost (10) and 20th in win-loss percentage (0.875).
Individually, Alt is 20th nationally in passing touchdowns (19), 21st in passing yards per game (241.6), 27th in completions per game (17.50), 29th in passing efficiency (150.7) and 30th in total offense per game (249.9). Duncan-Busby leads the NSIC and ranks 11th nationally in receiving touchdowns (9). Marko Jovisic is 25th nationally in field goal percentage (0.750) and 30th in field goals per game (1.00). Jarrett Klein is 19th nationally in forced fumbles (2). De’vonta’ Roberts is 27th nationally in kickoff return yards per game (25.1). Hansen is first in the NSIC and 14th nationally in tackles for loss per game (1.6).
Alt eclipsed 10,000 career passing yards at Wayne State. He enters the game this week with 10,582 career passing yards. Over the past 34 games, Alt has thrown for 103 touchdowns and has 113 for his career.
The defense has 24 sacks and 13 interceptions on the season. The defense recorded three sacks against CSP to snap a streak of two games without one. On the season, the Beavers have at least four sacks in four games. The defense did tally three interceptions to record multiple INT for the fifth game this year against the Golden Bears. After Caleb Young returned an interception for a touchdown against Wayne State, Buduris added one against Concordia-St. Paul. BSU has returned 13 interceptions for 262 yards this season.
Alt has completed 140-237 for 1,933 yards and 19 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Sam McGath has completed 11-20 for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
On the ground, Ali Mohamed leads the team rushing 92 times for 453 yards and seven touchdowns. Following Booker’s big game at Minnesota Duluth, he now has 54 carries for 370 yards and five touchdowns. Jayden Washington has rushed for 191 yards on 48 carries and a touchdown. Jarrett Gronski has 46 carries for 168 yards and a touchdown, while McGath has rushed 16 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Duncan-Busby has caught 34 passes for 519 yards and nine touchdowns. Jake Hill has 22 receptions for 331 yards and two scores. Brice Peters also has a pair of touchdowns to go along with 18 receptions for 238 yards. Drayton Lehman has 14 catches for 233 yards. Joey Baron had three touchdowns, while Booker and Mike Wandmaker added two receiving touchdowns.
On defense, Buduris leads the team with 42 tackles, 32 solo, along with six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception and six passes broken up. Klein has 37 tackles, 23 solo, along with 1.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception. Stephen Hoffman has 33 tackles, 14 solo, along with seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Spencer Wehr gives the Beavers with four posting over 30 tackles with 32, 13 solo, four tackles for loss and three passes broken up. Wehr also has an interception. Hansen continues to lead the team in tackles for loss at 14 and 6.5 sacks, along with 29 tackles, 19 solo and two forced fumbles. Princeten Harris and Jamel Stone are tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Hoffman, Hansen and Jacob Drietz all have a blocked punt this season.
MSU Moorhead leads the series at 47-38-3 since 1929. The first Battle for the Axe took place in 1948 with the Dragons claiming the 13-6 win in Moorhead. BSU has won three straight in the series and are 22-20-2 at home in the series. The last five meetings in Bemidji have all been close. BSU won 22-19 back in 2021. Prior to that MSU Moorhead claimed wins in 2018 (31-26), 2016 (42-41) and 2014 (27-21). BSU then won in 2012 (35-25). Last year in Moorhead the Beavers cruised to the 46-7 road victory.
MSU Moorhead enters with a record of 6-3 overall and 5-3 in NSIC play. The Dragons have won three straight and their three losses have been by a combined 15 points (Wayne State (eight points), Augustana (four points), Minnesota State (three points) all on the road). The air raid passing attack is led by Jack Strand whose 32 passing touchdowns are second in the nation and his 3,314 passing yards are also second in the nation. The Dragons average 35.2 points per game and allow 24.1 points per contest.