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Rejuvenated Beavers set to host Northern

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The Bemidji State football team is energized and confident heading into today's game against Northern State at Chet Anderson Stadium at 1 p.m.

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Coming off a thrilling last-minute 23-22 victory at home last week against U-Mary, the Beavers will go for its third straight win against the Wolves in a game expected to be played in unseasonably cool conditions.

"It boosted our morale big time," Bemidji State running back Dustin Kroeplin said of last week's win. "Every week from here on out is a key matchup and if we want to keep our season alive we have to win."

The Beavers (5-3 overall, 4-3 NSIC) will face a Northern State team (1-7 overall, 1-6 NSIC) that started the season on a six-game losing streak. The only Wolves win this season is against Minnesota-Crookston.

BSU has won nine of the last 10 games against the Wolves, including last year's 42-20 victory in Aberdeen.

The Beavers are currently tied for fourth in the overall NSIC standings with four other teams: Concordia-St. Paul, Minnesota State, Wayne State and Winona State.

Above those teams are conference unbeatens Augustana, Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State.

While a national playoff bid may be out of reach with three games left to play in the season, BSU holds hope for a possible Mineral Water Bowl bid and have not given up on the season.

"We always have something to play for," Kroeplin said. "Even if we don't have the playoffs or bowl game to play for, we still got ourselves, teammates and pride to play for. That's why we're here: because we love the game."

BSU's season was in danger of taking a major hit last weekend when U-Mary held a lead late in the game at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The Beavers won the game by driving 98 yards in the final two minutes of play to set up Jesse Sundby's game-winning 26-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the game.

Sundby's clutch kick was part of a three field goal game and highlighted a solid day for the BSU special teams unit. BSU's Matt Gandrud had a blocked kick in the second quarter of the win.

"Basically I'm just doing whatever I can to help us get to where we should be - winning games," Sundby said. "I think basically we're (special teams) just trying to be consistent, trying to handle the elements that every game brings and be the difference maker in the game."

Sundby was named the NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week.

BSU still struggled at times in the game against U-Mary and came close to being on losing sideline, but the players insist the field goal and the win was just what the team needed.

"It's been pretty upbeat (in practice)," Sundby said. "We still have something to play for definitely. Finish out the year here strong and it feels like all our life is back in us. At times it's been down but even with the weather it seems like it's been upbeat."

And weather could play a factor in Saturday's game. A high of 46 degrees is forecast for the game under partly cloudy skies.

It's not winter yet, but that low temperature on the western shore of Lake Bemidji could make for a tough day to gain yards through the air.

That's the way Kroeplin likes it.

"It's going to be cold. Perfect running weather," said Kroeplin, who leads the BSU running backs with seven touchdowns this season.

The Beavers and the Wolves match up even on the ground with BSU averaging 129 yards per game and Northern State averaging 128 this season, so the game could be decided by defense.

Bemidji State is averaging 124 yards allowed per game but have the No. 4 ranked scoring defense with 18.3 average points allowed per game.

Northern State is giving up 193 yards on the ground per game and has the No. 9 scoring defense with 27.4 average points allowed per game.

Y estromgren@bemidjipioneer.com

The Bemidji State football team is energized and confident heading into today's game against Northern State at Chet Anderson Stadium at 1 p.m.

Coming off a thrilling last-minute 23-22 victory at home last week against U-Mary, the Beavers will go for its third straight win against the Wolves in a game expected to be played in unseasonably cool conditions.

"It boosted our morale big time," Bemidji State running back Dustin Kroeplin said of last week's win. "Every week from here on out is a key matchup and if we want to keep our season alive we have to win."

The Beavers (5-3 overall, 4-3 NSIC) will face a Northern State team (1-7 overall, 1-6 NSIC) that started the season on a six-game losing streak. The only Wolves win this season is against Minnesota-Crookston.

BSU has won nine of the last 10 games against the Wolves, including last year's 42-20 victory in Aberdeen.

The Beavers are currently tied for fourth in the overall NSIC standings with four other teams: Concordia-St. Paul, Minnesota State, Wayne State and Winona State.

Above those teams are conference unbeatens Augustana, Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State.

While a national playoff bid may be out of reach with three games left to play in the season, BSU holds hope for a possible Mineral Water Bowl bid and have not given up on the season.

"We always have something to play for," Kroeplin said. "Even if we don't have the playoffs or bowl game to play for, we still got ourselves, teammates and pride to play for. That's why we're here: because we love the game."

BSU's season was in danger of taking a major hit last weekend when U-Mary held a lead late in the game at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The Beavers won the game by driving 98 yards in the final two minutes of play to set up Jesse Sundby's game-winning 26-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the game.

Sundby's clutch kick was part of a three field goal game and highlighted a solid day for the BSU special teams unit. BSU's Matt Gandrud had a blocked kick in the second quarter of the win.

"Basically I'm just doing whatever I can to help us get to where we should be - winning games," Sundby said. "I think basically we're (special teams) just trying to be consistent, trying to handle the elements that every game brings and be the difference maker in the game."

Sundby was named the NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week.

BSU still struggled at times in the game against U-Mary and came close to being on losing sideline, but the players insist the field goal and the win was just what the team needed.

"It's been pretty upbeat (in practice)," Sundby said. "We still have something to play for definitely. Finish out the year here strong and it feels like all our life is back in us. At times it's been down but even with the weather it seems like it's been upbeat."

And weather could play a factor in Saturday's game. A high of 46 degrees is forecast for the game under partly cloudy skies.

It's not winter yet, but that low temperature on the western shore of Lake Bemidji could make for a tough day to gain yards through the air.

That's the way Kroeplin likes it.

"It's going to be cold. Perfect running weather," said Kroeplin, who leads the BSU running backs with seven touchdowns this season.

The Beavers and the Wolves match up even on the ground with BSU averaging 129 yards per game and Northern State averaging 128 this season, so the game could be decided by defense.

Bemidji State is averaging 124 yards allowed per game but have the No. 4 ranked scoring defense with 18.3 average points allowed per game.

Northern State is giving up 193 yards on the ground per game and has the No. 9 scoring defense with 27.4 average points allowed per game.

estromgren@bemidjipioneer.com

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