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Bemidji State football team carries confidence into showdown with Concordia-St. Paul

Justin Lee and the Bemidji State football team face Concordia-St. Paul today on the road. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State football team will be carrying confidence into today's 6 p.m. road game at Concordia-St. Paul.

BSU's confidence comes from last week's 52-12 homecoming win over Upper Iowa in the homecoming game.

"(The players) were kind of waiting where both sides (offense and defense) played well; the kicking game played well and I think they came away with that," Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch said. "They've had a great week of practice, they're having a lot of fun, a lot of energy going into the game."

This week the Beavers (3-2 overall, 2-2 NSIC) should be tested by a surprsing Concordia-St. Paul team (3-2 overall, 2-2 NSIC).

In one of the shockers so far of the NSIC season, Concordia went on the road two weeks ago and defeated then No. 11 Minnesota State University, Mankato 28-26. The Golden Bears were unable to bring that momentum into its homecoming game last week against No. 20 Augustana and lost 22-16.

Concordia is not a team that will take a conservative approach to the game.

"I think it's don't give up the big plays," Tesch said. "They're a big play team on both sides. Defensively they will try to blitz you, get a sack and cause a turnover. They don't care if they give up an 80-yard touchdown. It's the same way defensively. We've got to eliminate the big play guys, they've got as good as skill as anyone in the league and they're running the ball better."

The Golden Bears are led by quarterback Spencer Ohm, who runs a spread offense and has thrown nine touchdowns this season. He is the team's second-leading rusher with 222 yards on the year.

Bemidji State's offense will look to control the time of posession battle and keep Concordia's offense off the field.

The Beavers have been at their best this season with a power-running game and statistics favor BSU there in this matchup. Concordia-St. Paul has the third worst rushing defense in the league and allows an average of 4.7 yards per carry.

The Beavers have rushed for over 200 yards in each of the three wins this season. In the two losses, BSU has been held under 100 yards rushing.

Bemidji State is using a running back by committee approach with the power of Dustin Kroeplin, the athletic balance of Steven Battle and the speed of Brandon Miles.

The trio have combined for 599 yards on the ground this season and Kropelin has four touchdowns as the goal-line back.

"We all bring a different aspect of the game to the table," Miles said.

When the backs are effective, the offense follows suit and the play-action passes make the BSU offense difficult to defend. Miles pointed to last week's win against Upper Iowa as an example.

"It felt like we were really getting into our flow," Miles said. "The season started a little rough and we felt like we were getting out of our scheme and flow and all that. This last Saturday we started getting back into it and doing what we usually do: run the ball, play good defense- just doing our thing."

If the power running game stalls and the offense does not come as easy, the Beavers can lean on the defense. BSU's defense has been the most consistent area on the team this season. Only two teams in the NSIC have allowed fewer points than the Beavers. BSU also claims the No. 4 passing defense and No. 3 rushing defense in the league.

"We've just got to go down there and play with the same confidence and continue to grow," Tesch said. "I think we are right now."