Senior wide receiver Andrew Schultz (Grand Forks,N.D.) surpassed the 1,000 career reception yards plateau in grandfashion Saturday, scoring a 19 yard touchdown in a 51-12 homecomingvictory for Bemidji State University as it defeated visiting Upper IowaUniversity.The Beavers were also able to celebrate a homecoming victorytradition of jumping into Lake Bemidji after the game. Since thetradition began in 1995, the BSU football team has enjoyed a dip in thelake after a homecoming win 12 times. Bemidji State is just one of ahandful of collegiate football fields that sit at the banks of a lake.
“I didn’t even realize I was close until one of the player’s parentssaid something after the Minot State game,” Schultz said. “We’ve haveso many great receivers here at BSU, like Anthony Schreiber and GeorgeKadlec, so it feels great to be recognized with those guys.”
“I couldn’t have written the script any better,” said head coach Jeff Tesch.”Everybody got to play, everybody got in the lake, no one was injured,it was a beautiful day, it really couldn’t have been more of a perfectday. We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides and played acomplete game on both sides. It was a well rounded game by everybody.”
The Beavers (3-2, 2-2 NSIC, 0-1 NSIC North) took control of theNorthern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest from the coin toss,winning it and electing to receive. From there, BSU ran the ball sixstraight times, setting-up a 24 yard field goal from junior Jesse Sundby (Argyle, Minn.). During the drive, the home team got the ground game going with two backs, as sophomore Dustin Kroeplin (RB, Withee, Wis.) carried the ball four times for 26 yards and senior Steven Battle(Grand Forks, N.D.) had two carries for 19 yards. The Beaver ‘GangGreen’ defense then forced the Peacock offense off the field in threeplays and gave the BSU offense the ball back. The green and white thenmarched down the field and on third and nine, senior quarterback Derek Edholm (Anoka, Minn.) found Schultz for the 19 yard score that gave him 1,002 yards on his career.
On the UIU (0-5, 0-4 NSIC, 0-1 NSIC South) drive, the BSU defenseforced a second three-and-out and after a 33 yard punt by the Peacocks,the Beavers had the ball on their 38 yard line. A 23 yard strike tosophomore tight end Brain Leonhardt (Blaine, Minn.), followed by exceptional running from a third option in the backfield, senior Brandon Miles (Kenai, Alaska), the Beavers were down to the UIU 27.
Just when it looked like BSU was going to run away with the game, thePeacocks came up big with an interception at the two yard line thatstarted a turnover tennis match between the two teams. The interceptionreturn when out to the 14, but an illegal block in the back call on thevisitors pushed the Peacocks back to the seven. It only took threeplays for the BSU defense to regain possession of the football assenior defensive end Rob Wills (Roseville Minn.) forced a fumble on a quarterback sack and BSU’s Matthew Shaver(Fr., DL, St. Cloud, Minn.) recovered on the Peacock 22 yard line. Onthe first play, the Beavers tried a trick play that worked a weekearlier against No. 2 University of Minnesota Duluth, a reverse tojunior wide receiver Justin Lee (Elgin, Ill.) wherehe throws it into the end zone to an open receiver. This time UIUsniffed out the play and intercepted Lee at the one yard line. Startingat their own one, the Peacocks got out to their five before UIU QB DrewKaluzny threw the ball into the arms of BSU linebacker Cory Crosby(So., Cold Spring, Minn.) and he took it to the house for a 10 yardinterception score. The extra point made the score 17-0 with 1:14 toplay in the first frame.
The interception and touchdown by Crosby were his first as a Beaver.The last time BSU returned an interception for a touchdown was lastseason when Wills posted a 15 yard pick six at Minnesota StateUniversity, Mankato.
The Beavers continued to roll in the second quarter on both sides ofthe ball. The offense ran 23 plays for 124 yards and two touchdowns,eating over 11 minutes off the clock. The defense didn’t allow UpperIowa a single first down in the quarter, limiting its offense to atotal of two yards in the three drives UIU had after the Beavers madeit 17-0 late in the first. The two touchdown scores by the Beavers cameon drives of more than 60 yards. Kroeplin got into the end zone on afour yard carry for the first score. With twenty seconds remaining inthe half, Schultz got his second touchdown of the game on a 24 yardpass from Edholm. Schultz caught the ball at about the 10 yard line andthen did the rest himself, making a couple guys miss and then leapinginto the end zone, getting up-ended in the process and landing on hisback. The extra point gave the Beavers a halftime lead of 31-0.
The Beavers solidified the victory after forcing Upper Iowa to punt onits first possession of the second half and then driving 88 yards tothe end zone. Kroeplin got his second score of the day on an eight yardrun, giving him four touchdowns on the season. Sundby remained perfecton point after attempts and put the ball through the uprights to makeit 38-0.
The Peacocks were determined to avoid the shutout and on the next driveposted plays of 23 yards, 24 yards and 27 yards to finally breakthroughinto the end zone. But BSU remained stingy and senior Aaron Roland (S, Wahpeton, N.D.) blocked the extra point to make it a 38-6 contest.
With 2:51 remaining on the clock in the third quarter, the Beavers gotthe ball back with intentions of running the ball and the clock out.Miles and Battle both took the ball three times to run out the third,placing BSU at the UIU 13 to start the fourth. One play into the finalquarter, Edholm finished off the 61 yard drive, all on the ground, witha rush of his own that put him into the end zone. The extra point bykicker Zach Pulkinen (Fr., Caldwell, Idaho) gave the Beavers a 45-6 lead.
That would be the end for Edholm as he went 12-for-18 for 175 yardswith two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. He is nowresponsible for 58 touchdowns in his career at BSU, two shy of secondplace on the school’s all-time chart. His 47 touchdown passes nowplaces him third at BSU all-time, five shy of breaking the record (51)held by Geoff Martinson (1998-01) and Nathan Sannes (2001-05).
Sophomore Lance Rongstad (QB, Eleva, Wis.) tookthe snaps on the next BSU drive and didn’t miss a beat, guiding thesquad to another touchdown that ended with him throwing a nine yardpass to Lee on a slant route for a 51-6 lead. A high snap on the pointafter attempt kept the score at 51 for the home team.
With the clock reading all zeros, the Peacocks scored on a 10 yard passto make the game 51-12 and that is where it stood, as the refereeforewent the extra point attempt and ended the game.
After the customary handshake, Beaver players and coaches ran to thelake to begin the homecoming celebrations with fans and alumni joiningthem from the safety of the banks of Lake Bemidji. Even first-year BSU President Dr. Richard Hansonjoined the celebration in the cool water. Dr. Hanson made good on acomment he made earlier in the school year that if Bemidji State won,he would join the team in the lake.
BSU out-gained the Peacocks 471-223. The Beavers posted 281 yards onthe ground from eight different players. The 200-plus yards rushing isthe third for BSU this season. Battle led the way in yardage with 88,while Kroeplin had 78 with two scores. Miles pitched-in 55 yards.Schultz was the top receiver, pulling down three catches for 57 yardsand two touchdowns. Junior Cameron Abram(Brooklyn Park, Minn.) posted three catches for 41 yards, while Lee had32 yards on two receptions and Leonhardt had 31 yards on two catches.
On the defensive side, Wills led BSU with nine tackles (three solo)that tied his career-high he set earlier this season against MinotState University. He added two sacks, also matching his career-highversus Minot State, that totalled 11 lost yards for UIU. He had 3.5tackles for loss that pushed the Peacocks back 14 yards, while alsoforcing a fumble. Freshman linebacker Buckley Wright (Sioux City, Iowa) had a breakout performance with eight tackles (two solo). Sophomore Dan Christensen(LB, Chicago, Ill.) posted seven tackles (two solo) and a half tacklefor loss, while Crosby added six tackles (two solo) and 1.5 tackles forloss to go with his interception for a touchdown.
The Beavers travel Concordia University, St. Paul next Saturday tobattle the Golden Bears at Sea Foam Stadium beginning at 6 p.m.