FOOTBALL: Bemidji State falls to U-Mary 26-17
BEMIDJI — A third quarter surge by the University of Mary’s pass-happy offense destroyed what was, up until halftime, a solid day for the Bemidji State football team.
The Marauders scored 16 straight points in the third quarter, finished the game with 311 yards of passing offense and held on to defeat Bemidji State 26-17 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action Saturday afternoon at Chet Anderson Stadium.
“We played a good first half,” BSU head coach Jeff Tesch said. “But in the second half we gave up big plays, we didn’t make many plays, we didn’t have enough guys on the field and different things like that. We have some young kids, but we’re disappointed when things like that happen. They just outplayed us.”
The Beavers (2-4, 0-2 NSIC North) led 10-3 at halftime thanks to an Avery Walker touchdown at 10:24 of the second quarter and a Zach Pulkinen field goal in the final seconds of the half.
But the Marauders (4-2, 2-0 NSIC North) regrouped in the locker room. U-Mary head coach Myron Schultz said his defense’s final stand of the first half — holding BSU to a field goal instead of a touchdown — helped give them confidence in the second half.
“Not letting them score a touchdown that last drive was huge,” he said. “We went into the locker room only down one score instead of two, and we all knew that ‘Hey, we’re alright, we’re fine.’”
After the first drive of the second half — one that saw the Maraders march 75-yards in just 1 minute, 45 seconds — it was apparent that it just took one big play for Craig Bagnell and U-Mary’s potent air raid offense to click.
Nick Jolliffe snuck behind the BSU secondary after a fake screen play and caught a 35-yard strike. Then running back Dariouse Gravely rumbled down the sideline for 24 yards. Two plays later Bagnell found Joliffe for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game.
“The first drive coming out of the locker room, they went right down the field,” Tesch said. “You can’t have that. They were going into the wind and everything.”
The Marauders certainly made life difficult for quarterback Alex Hass and the rest of the BSU offense in the second half.
The Beavers converted just four first downs the entire second half, and didn’t get their first one until well into the fourth quarter.
“Once our offense had success we started clicking, we were believing, and our defense just fed off it,” Schultz said. “They played well the whole game. Especially in the second half.”
Hass was sacked seven times — four in the second half — and completed just 5-of-14 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
“They had a pretty good defense,” Hass said. When I had time to throw, they were covering us up.
“They were good at mixing up coverages and stuff, but I missed some throws I should have had. That kind of made the difference.”
The Marauders scored twice more in the third quarter — a 24-yard field goal by Ryan Tyler and a 1-yard run by Bagnell.
The final score in the third made it 19-10 and was set up by a 55-yard bomb to receiver DJ Young, who made a spectacular catch and was hauled down at the 1-yard line.
BSU blocked Tyler’s extra point, which gave the Beavers offense a chance to make it interesting.
With 9 minutes to go in fourth quarter, the Beavers successfully converted a fourth-and-3 from their own 37 on a 5-yard run by Walker.
It was their initial first down of the half and helped set up a score. Hass found Vince Dinkel for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the very next play. Pulkinen nailed the extra point and cut Mary’s lead to 19-17 with 6:47 to play.
But once again, Mary had an answer.
On its first drive following BSU’s score, Bagnell found three different receivers for passes of more than 10 yards — each making a circus catch — to set up Gravely’s 2-yard run.
Hass and the offense had two more chances to score but Hass threw an interception and was sacked three times in the final two drives.
Bagnell finished with 311 yards on 21-of-31 passing; six different receivers caught at least one pass. They finished with 404 total yards.
“They just came out and played a lot better than us,” Tesch said. “Some of their gambling stuff on offense worked. They threw the ball up and we were covering them, but their guys made plays. They’re some good athletes.”
Walker led the Beavers with 122 yards rushing and a touchdown; the Beavers had 286 yards of total offense and 173 rushing.
BSU travels to Northern State for another NSIC North game next Saturday.
U-Mary 26, Bemidji State 17
U-Mary3 0 16 7 – 26
BSU0 10 0 7 – 17
UM-Ryan 19-yard field goal kick, 2:38.
BSU-Walker 1 run (Pulkinen PAT kick), 10:24.
BSU-Pulkinen 28-yard field goal, 0:06.
UM-Jolliffe 2-pass from Bagnell (Ryan PAT kick), 13:13.
UM-Ryan 24-field goal, 7:00.
UM-Bagnell 1-rush (Ryan PAT kick blocked), 4:13.
BSU-Dinkel 58-pass from Hass (Pulkinen PAT kick), 6:47.
UM-Gravely 2-run (Ryan PAT kick), 3:31.