MINOT, N.D. -- The Bemidji State football team defeated Minot State in the season opener Thursday night at Herb Parker Stadium.
Bemidji State won the annual Beaver Bash by overcoming poor special teams play and a 12-point deficit in the final 19 minutes of play.
In his first game as Bemidji State's starting quarterback, sophomore Derek Edholm hit George Kadlec on a three-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 3:24 remaining to give the Beavers the 27-24 victory.
Bemidji State nearly gave the game away with special teams miscues through the first three quarters that included a blocked field goal, a missed extra point, a missed field goal, a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Edholm was able to key the final two scoring drives for the Beavers and finished the day 32-for-44 passing with 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the first 300-yard passing game for the Beavers since 2005 when Nathan Sannes reached the mark.
Kadlec caught a career-best 10 receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Brandon Miles had two rushing touchdowns for Bemidji State. He led the team in on the ground with 16 rushes for 68 yards.
The win marked Bemidji State's sixth straight victory over Minot State in the series that marked its 11th year Thursday.
Bemidji State opens the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schedule next Saturday in the home opener and Shrine Game against NSIC newcomer Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Thursday's game began with turnovers from both teams.
Bemidji State cruised into Minot State's red zone on the opening drive, but were stopped and forced into a 27-yard field goal attempt. The kick by all-conference and all-region kicker Paul Potemra was blocked.
It was the start of a rough game for Potemra, who was one of BSU's most consistent performers last season.
Minot State recovered the blocked kick and returned the ball to the BSU 20-yard line.
Bemidji State's defense held strong and forced MSU quarterback Jon Meier to fumble and linebacker Jordan Lardinois recovered.
Minot State scored first when Nick Banks ran off tackle on a 45-yard touchdown run to give MSU a 7-0 lead.
A strong defensive play by Bemidji State linebacker Jake Anderson set up BSU's first touchdown of the season.
The BSU junior intercepted a Meier pass, returned the ball to the Minot 3-yard line and running back Brandon Miles scored the touchdown on the next play.
But Potemra, who was 41-of-41 on extra points last season, kicked the ball off the right upright and the Beavers trailed 7-6.
On MSU's next drive, BSU cornerback Terrell Phelps set up the next BSU touchdown with another Meier interception.
BSU scored on the following possession on Edholm's 36-yard touchdown pass to Kadlec. The ensuing 2-point conversion attempt failed and BSU led 12-7.
MSU return man Johnny Lester put MSU back ahead with 1:30 left in the second quarter with his first spectacular special teams play.
Lester returned Potemra's punt by scrambling around the field and finding a seam on a 73-yard run to the end zone. The touchdown gave Minot State a 14-12 lead.
Bemidji State managed to get back into field goal range before the half ended, but Potemra's attempt from 35 yards out missed wide left and capped off a disastrous first half of special teams play for the Beavers.
Special teams problems continued immediately in the third quarter as Lester returned the opening kickoff of the second half 89 yards to give Minot State a 21-12 lead.
Lester returned three punts for 77 yards and two kickoffs for 103 yards in the game.
Nik Levnaich's 31-yard field goal at 4:08 of third quarter gave Minot State its largest lead of the game at 24-12.
Bemidji State began the comeback when Miles scored is second touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run with 17 seconds left in the third quarter to cut MSU's lead to 24-19.
The Beavers completed the comeback and took the lead for good when Kadlec pulled down Edholm's pass in the back corner of the end zone.
Thursday's victory kept Bemidji State undefeated at Herb Parker Stadium. The Beavers are now 4-0 all time in games played at Minot State.
E Running back Eurise Watson made his first carry of the 2008 season, marking his comeback from a season-ending dislocated kneecap injury he suffered in last year's homecoming game on Sept. 29 against Northern State.
E Wide receiver George Kadlec had his second career two-touchdown game. He had seven touchdown catches all of last season.
Bemidji State 0 12 7 8--27
Minot State 7 7 10 0--24
MSU--Banks 45 run (Levnaich kick), 8:03.
BSU--Miles 3 run (Potemra kick failed), 12:09.
BSU--Kadlec 35 pass from Wardrope (Edholm rush failed), 9:40.
MSU-- Lester 73 punt return (Levnaich kick), 1:30.
MSU-- Lester 84 kick return (Levnaich kick), 14:50.
MSU-- Levnaich FG 31, 4:08.
BSU-- Miles 2 run (Potemra kick), :17.
BSU--Kadlec 3 pass from Wardrope (Schultz pass from Edholm), 3:24.
RUSHING--BSU: Miles 16-67, Edholm 12-40, Abrams 1-14, Newman 4-12, Watson 1-(minus-1) MSU: Banks 19-121, Schatz 2-8, Meier 4-(minus-21).
PASSING--BSU: Edholm 32-44-0-305. MSU: Meier 10-23-2-103, Rudolph 1-2-1-22.
RECEIVING--BSU: Kadlec 10-107, Schultz 6-63, Abrams 6-33, Berg 5-33, Henningson 3-32, Gettel 2-37. MSU: Jutras 3-51, Banks 3-4, Lester 2-53, #23 1-22, Awalt 1-(minus-2), Rudolph 1-(minus-3).
MISSED FIELD GOALS--BSU: Potemra 27 (blocked), Potemra 35 (WL)