Beaver Fever Friday – Marcus Hansen – Football

No. 21/15 Beavers set to host first-ever Second Round NCAA Playoff game this Saturday versus (RV) Central Washington

Beavers advance to second round of NCAA Playoffs for third straight season

After hosting their first-ever opening round NCAA Playoff game last year, the No. 21/15 Bemidji State University Football team will now prepare to host their first-ever second round NCAA Playoff game this Saturday against Central Washington with kickoff set for 1 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Bemidji State (9-2, 8-2 NSIC) shut down the high-powered Falcons of Texas-Permian Basin last week in the 10-3 victory. UTPB came in averaging 46 points and 495 yards of offense per game. BSU held UTPB to just three points and 264 total yards. It was the lowest point total of the season and fewest since being shutout by now Division I Texas A&M-Commerce during the 2021 season.

The Beavers are set to play their sixth NCAA Playoff game in a three-year span this Saturday and it will be just the second home game during that time. Last year, Bemidji State made program history hosting and winning their first NCAA playoff game in the 96-year history of the program. Now in year 97, the Beavers are set for more history hosting their first-even second round of the NCAA Playoffs.

It will be the second straight week facing a team for the first time in program history. Central Washington last faced a team from the NSIC during the 2010 season hosting Minnesota Duluth and falling short, 10-35.

Bemidji State tallied 220 yards at UTPB, throwing for 151. The game featured 10 punts and the Beavers also collected a pair of sacks and interceptions. Jamel Stone’s INT in the end zone in the first quarter was a big momentum swing and later Caleb Young and an interception off a tipped pass by Princeten Harris.

Marucs Hansen led the defense with eight tackles. Max Buduris and Spencer Wehr added seven tackles apiece. Hansen leads the NSIC in both tackles for loss (18) and sacks (10). He ranks ninnth nationally in sacks and 14th nationally in tackles for loss. Hansen was recently named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year.

BSU leads the NSIC in third down conversion percentage on defense (.308), blocked punts (5), and team passing efficiency on defense (100.35). The Beavers rank in the top 30 nationally in third down conversion percentage on defense (23rd), blocked punts (3rd), 17th in fewest penalties (50), 16th in kickoff return yards allowed (16.06), 11th in passes intercepted on defense (17), 13th in passing offense per game (264.8), 17th in red zone defense (.667), 15th in sacks allowed per game (1.00), 19th in scoring defense (16.9), 23rd in tackles for loss allowed per game (4.73), team passing efficiency on defense (13th), 14th in team sacks per game (3.09), 20th in team tackles for loss per game (7.7), 24th in turnovers gained (23) and 18th in winning percentage (0.818).

Individually, Alt ranks in the top 30 nationally in multiple categories including 14th in passing yards per game (250.9), 16th in passing yards (2,760), 17th in completions per game (19.36), 17th in passing touchdowns (25), and 28th in total offense per game (252.9). Jacob Drietz is tied for 15th nationally in blocked punts (2). Hansen is tied for the NSIC lead and 23rd nationally in forced fumbles per game (0.27). Duncan-Busby is 15th nationally in receiving touchdowns (10).

Alt eclipsed 11,000 career passing yards at Augustana. He enters the game this week with 11,409 career passing yards. Over the past 37 games, Alt has thrown for 109 touchdowns and has 119 for his career.

The defense has 34 sacks and 17 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 five games. BSU is coming off an impressive six sack performance against MSU Moorhead just a few weeks ago. The defense did tally two interceptions to record multiple INT for the seventh game this year against the Falcons. After Young returned an interception for a touchdown against Wayne State, Buduris added one against Concordia-St. Paul. BSU has returned 15 interceptions for 302 yards this season.

Alt has completed 213-353 for 2,760 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Sam McGath has completed 12-21 for 153 yards and three touchdowns.

On the ground, Ali Mohamed leads the team rushing for 492 yards on 112 carries and seven touchdowns. Sage Booker has 89 carries for 481 yards and five touchdowns. Jayden Washington, Jarrett Gronski and McGath all have two rushing touchdowns this season.

Duncan-Busby had a big game at Augustana and following the trip to Texas has 47 receptions for 755 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jake Hill has 38 receptions for 455 yards and two touchdowns. Brice Peters has 28 catches for 379 yards and six touchdowns. Joey Baron has three touchdowns on 34 catches for 266 yards. Mike Wandmaker had the only touchdown during the game in Texas and has three on the season. Booker also has a pair of receiving touchdowns.

On defense, Buduris leads the team with 59 tackles, 43 solo, along with seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception and 10 passes defended. Jarrett Klein has 51 tackles, 30 solo, along with 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and two forced fumbles. Spencer Wehr has 50 tackles, 25 solo, seven tackles for loss and two interceptions. Stephen Hoffman is right behind with 46 tackles, 19 solo, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and five passes defended. Hansen has 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, along with 45 tackles, 28 solo, three forced fumbles and a blocked punt.

This will be the first meeting between the teams. Central Washington last played a team from the NSIC in 2010 falling at home to Minnesota Duluth, 35-10. Last week’s win at Western Colorado was the first postseason victory for the Wildcats since 2009.

Central Washington (8-3, 7-2 LSC) has been used to the road this season. Since playing at home on Oct. 21 against West Texas A&M, the Wildcats have traveled to Texas twice, Colorado and then this week to Minnesota. After a slow start to the season, Central Washington won seven straight games before falling to Texas-Permian Basin in the Lone Star Conference title game to end the regular season. The seven-game winning streak started with a win over then No. 9 Angelo State (27-24). Last week in Colorado, the Wildcats hit a game-tying 28-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. In the extra session, Western Colorado scored first with a 41-yard field goal. Then on third-and-15 for Central Washington, Kennedy McGill found Darius Morrison for the 30-yard touchdown to send CWU to the 16-13 victory.

Central Washington is averaging 24.27 points per game and 348.4 yards of total offense per contest. The team turned to McGill at quarterback and the redshirt-freshman has completed 65-117 for 807 yards and six touchdowns. He has also rushed for 513 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Flanagan adds 1,017 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Darius Morrison has caught 32 passes for 478 yards and five touchdowns.

On defense, Tanner Volk is one of the top safeties in the nation with 108 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 12 interceptions. Brett McCalla adds 84 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Josiah Cochran leads the team with three sacks. As a team, Central Washington has 12 sacks and 16 interceptions.