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Christian Metz caught this touchdown pass from Derek Edholm to bring Bemidji State within 28-21 in the fourth quarter. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Second half recap: Tesch decides to play percentages and not go for 2-point conversion

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Second half recap: Tesch decides to play percentages and not go for 2-point conversion
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The Bulldogs started with the ball in the second half and scored the lone touchdown of the third quarter on a methodical 12 play, 67-yard drive that ended with Odim punching through the line on a 3-yard touchdown run.

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Bemidji State was able to move the ball on the following possession and Brian Leonhardt nearly came close to pulling in a highlight-reel catch at the goal line.

Blanketed by the coverage of UMD's Brandon Wood, the ball tipped in and out of his hands on the third down play that nearly resulted in a 26-yard touchdown.

BSU tried to go for Leonhardt again on fourth down, but UMD covered the goal line and Edholm overthrew the end zone to avoid an interception.

Bemidji State's defense played exceptional in the second half, keeping the game close when the Bulldogs threatened to run away with it.

The Beavers were treated to a heavy dose of Odim, but the holes that existed in the first half disappeared in the first quarter. Duluth was unable to find the first downs to close out the Beavers.

"I think we were maybe a little intimidated by these guys early in the game," Anderson said. "The defense started slow but then we realized that we could start hanging with them and once we started believing in ourselves, it showed."

Bemidji State also caught a break when UMD kicker David Nadeau missed a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. That prevented UMD from going up 17 points at the time.

Metz's touchdown came at a do-or-die time for the Beavers and the reception started the fireworks in the final minutes.

Edholm threw over the middle of the field to Metz, who tipped the ball out of the linebacker's hands and caught it while falling backwards across the goal line with 3:14 to play.

"I think in the second half the coaches put us in good positions to make plays," Schultz said of BSU offense in the second half. "We weren't able to get anything going until it was a little too late in the second quarter ... but after that we were in all the good spots to keep it close against a good football team."

The BSU defense came up big by forcing the UMD offense off the field in a three-and-out and at that point in the game, the Beavers had all of the momentum.

Kroeplin was able to tie it for the Beavers when he found a gap in the coverage. He took a short pass and turned it into a 56-yard touchdown reception with 1:40 left to bring the score to 28-28.

The Bulldogs then pulled out a big play of their own when Winfield returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards.

"I just caught (the ball) at the numbers and I looked in front of me and saw that we were able to get bodies on bodies," Winfield said. "I knew if we lost this game, we probably wouldn't make the playoffs ... I knew we needed a big play and I just hit the hole and didn't look back."

Bemidji State's offense had solved the Bulldog defense in the second half and was left with 1:23 on the clock to drive for the tying touchdown.

BSU was able to accomplish that in seven plays when Henningson jumped above three Bulldog defenders to pull down the pass.

Tesch explained his reasoning for not going for a two-point conversion after Henningson's touchdown.

"I use the cliché that you always go for one (point) at home and two (points) on the road," he said. "It was such a quick decision you have to make and we didn't have any timeouts at that point. I'm not going to second-guess myself there. You play the percentages."

Tesch said it is "unfortunate" that Sundby will take blame for the loss.

Sundby's punts played a big role in keeping the game close in the second half in the field position battle. He averaged 36 yards on six punts in the game.

"It takes three guys for a successful point after," Tesch said. "You have to have a good snap, you have to have a good hold - you can't bobble it - and you have to have a good kick. I told (Sundby) and I told the team it takes three guys."

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Pioneer staff reports
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