Bemidji State football: Sundby's late field goal clinches Beavers victory over U-Mary
Forced to endure a timeout with the game waiting on his foot, Bemidji State junior kicker Jesse Sundby walked away from the line of scrimmage and toward teammate Dusty Sluzewicz on the sideline.
"I told him to tell me a story - anything to get me to start laughing," Sundby said. "I had a couple of nerves so I just went to the sidelines, took a drink of water and didn't try to think about it."
Sundby kicked a 26-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Beavers a 23-22 win over the University of Mary Saturday afternoon at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Sundby's kick capped off a standout day from the BSU special teams. Sundby had three field goals in the win and the BSU kick-blocking unit forced Mary to miss two extra points in the first quarter - points that came back to haunt the Marauders in the end.
The Bemidji State offense set up the winning field goal with its best drive of the game. The Beavers started at the 2-yard line with 2:06 left to play and gained 89 yards on 14 plays. With no timeouts, senior quarterback Derek Edholm rushed for 27 of those yards and completed passes to Brian Leonhardt, Andrew Schultz and Dustin Kroeplin to give Sundby the chance.
"The snap and hold was there," Sundby said. "I just had the easy job of getting it through."
It was the first time Sundby, a former Stephen-Argyle standout, won a game for the Beavers with a field goal in the final seconds of play.
"The last few games I've had some confidence and I've been waiting for sure for some redemption after missing some opportunities before," Sundby said. "I thought I was going to have a chance a few weeks ago at Concordia. But this feels really good because I know what it's like to be on the other end of something like this."
The Beavers improved to 5-3 overall (4-3 NSIC) with the win over U-Mary (1-7 overall, 1-6 NSIC) and will host Northern State next Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium.
"We still have something to play for and we still hope that some things will fall into place for us," BSU defensive end Jordan Lardinois said. "We still are playing for the playoffs or a bowl game."
Defense also played a major role in the victory for BSU.
Lardinois opened up scoring by recovering a fumble and returning it 30 yards for a touchdown with 9:03 left in the first quarter to give BSU a 7-0 lead. Sundby's 36-yard field goal at 12:26 of the second quarter put BSU up 10-0.
The rest of the second quarter - outside of the extra point blocks by Matt Gandrud and Averey Duncan - was mostly forgettable for the Beavers. U-Mary scored 19 unanswered points on two goal-line rushing touchdowns by running back Jamal Lomax and one from quarterback Craig Bagnell to take a 19-10 lead into halftime.
Sundby's 28-yard field goal and Kroeplin's 1-yard touchdown run highlighted a strong third quarter for the Beavers and gave BSU a 20-19 lead.
But the BSU offense fizzled out for much of the fourth quarter and U-Mary's Zach Reisenauer kicked a 32-yard field goal at 12:34 to put the Marauders ahead 22-20.
BSU was given prime field position at the Mary 36-yard line when BSU's Andrew Eagan forced and recovered Bagnell's fumble with just under six minutes to play.
But the Beavers gave the ball right back when the Marauders recovered Nate Solors' fumble two plays later.
Mary took advantage and chewed up the clock to force BSU to use its remaining timeouts ahead of the two-minute warning.
Jake Schmidt saved the game for the Beavers when he tackled Terry Newsome one yard short of a first down with 2:17 to play.
That forced the Marauders to punt and the ball rolled down to the two-yard line.
The Beavers answered the challenge to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"We found a way today to win even though the offense had a rough day," Tesch said. "Special teams was really the difference today. It's nice that when the game came down to the end, we have an all-conference quarterback we can go to in that situation."