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Bemidji State football: Offense bottled up and blanked in loss to Augustana

Bemidji State receiver Cameron Abram, 11, is tackled by Augustana's Micah Nordin, 29, and Ryan Isaacson during Saturday's game. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State head football coach Jeff Tesch did not mince words when talking about the offensive performance in Saturday's 10-0 loss to Augustana College at Chet Anderson Stadium.

"On offense it could not have been more of a frustrating day," Tesch said. "Never have I had a more frustrating game here. At times we looked like a junior high team out there."

The two NSIC programs entered the game with conference title and national playoff aspirations. The Vikings left Bemidji with a 2-0 record while Beavers fell to 1-1 and now have little margin for error the rest of the season.

The Beavers will try to get back on track next Saturday at NSIC South Division program Southwest Minnesota State.

Bemidji State's defense put in another stellar effort against Augustana and held the Vikings to only 10 first-half points: a 26-yard field goal by Drew Behrens in the first quarter and Josh Hanson's 37-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Schulte in the second quarter.

But there was little else for Bemidji State to cheer about in the home opener and Shrine Game.

The BSU offense was out of sync and had just seven first downs in the game. The first of the first downs came with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The Beavers offense was limited to nine yards rushing and 106 total yards in the first shutout loss since a 41-0 defeat to Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 8, 1997.

"It's a bit of a shocker," Bemidji State wide receiver Andrew Schultz said. "We consider ourselves a good offense and to be shut out at home, well, it's a bitter feeling. We'll have to forget about this. Our goal is to still win the North Division and we have to go to Southwest and play better."

Bemidji State all-conference quarterback Derek Edholm struggled to find a rhythm with the offense. He completed 10-of-26 passes for 97 yards, was sacked four times and threw two interceptions in a game where dropped balls by receivers was a routine problem.

A few other areas of frustration in the loss for Bemidji State were penalties and special teams.

The Beavers were penalized 13 times in the game, including back-to-back offsides calls on a fourth-down punting situation in the fourth quarter. It gave Augustana a first down and allowed more time to run off the clock.

"Some of what happened out there was inexcusable and some of what happened out there was shocking to have happen at this stage in the season for as good a team I think we have," Tesch said. "I thought this game could come down to the last drive."

Tesch directed some of the blame on to himself and the coaching staff.

"We're going to have to go back to basics and just execute better," Tesch said. "I thought we had a nice game plan but looking back on it we were probably trying to do too much. We were looking for the perfect formation and we should have kept it simple."

Like Tesch, Augustana head coach Mike Aldrich expected a tough game and was slightly surprised with how the Vikings won.

"We were a little nervous coming into this game to be honest," Aldrich said. "We knew Bemidji had two weeks to prepare for us and we thought we would see some different things from them. We wanted to take the run game away from them after what they did to Minot and we were able to do that. I also thought the key to the game was field position."

Aldrich was right in the field position assessment. Augie's only conversion in the red zone was the field goal and Bemidji State never moved the ball inside Augustana's 20-yard line.

One of the bright spots for BSU came seconds in to the fourth quarter when cornerback Chris Bellinger intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep the game well within reach with a quarter remaining.

Bellinger, a redshirt freshman out of Georgia, started in his first collegiate game at cornerback for Sid Johnson, who is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury in Thursday's practice.

Bemidji State linebacker George Percak-Dennett complimented Bellinger's play after the game, but it was hard to shake the negative feelings of defeat despite another strong defensive effort.

"For the most part I thought the defense played all right, but we gave up a lot of third downs that we shouldn't have and just didn't tighten up," Bemidji State linebacker George Percak-Dennett said. "Special teams, offense, defense ... I don't think we won any battles out there today."