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Bemidji State football spring game: Beavers show off promising future, strong defense in energetic contest

Bemidji State wide receiver Andrew Schultz throws up a stiff arm into cornerback Charles Hrdlicka before he is tackled during BSU's spring scrimmage Thursday night at Chet Anderson Stadium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Defense ruled the day in the Bemidji State football team's annual intrasquad spring game with a 48-29 win over the offense at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The defense limited the offense to just two touchdowns on 16 drives. The two scores came on a pair of short receptions by Christian Metz and Nate Solors.

There was one stretch of plays that gave a glimpse into the long-term future of the BSU offense and the current mindset of an experienced defensive corps.

Freshman quarterback Larry Miller broke loose and flashed his athletic abilities on a 63-yard run, which would have been a touchdown if not for the chase-down tackles at the six-yard line by Sid Johnson and Jake Schmidt.

The defense held strong on the goal-line stand three plays later when Brody Scheff picked off quarterback Lance Rongstad's pass in the middle of the end zone.

"I guess today shows you the mentality of our defense," said Scheff, who tied for the team lead in interceptions last season. "We're the type of guys who are never going to give up and it showed on Sid's and Jake's tackle. Then, I just came in on one play and got lucky."

There was much to like and little to worry about for both squads in the simulated game. Points were arwarded based on touchdowns, first downs, sacks, penalties and turnovers.

"There was a lot of spirit and a lot of fun out there," Bemdji State head coach Jeff Tesch said. "There were some big plays out there from each side. This game is hard for the offense to win because you really can't have turnovers or penalties. The defense flew around out there more and that was the difference."

The rotation of the game matched the first team offense against the first team defense followed by the second team offense against the second team defense.

Starting all-conference quarterback Derek Edholm only played the opening series for the Beavers. Most of the first-team snaps went to Rongstad and he went 9-for-15 for 103 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

He at times lined up with Miller in the backfield. Miller took most of the snaps for the second team offense.

It was a good indication that Bemidji State's dual-quarterback offensive system will be around for at least the next few years.

"Larry Miller did a couple of nice things out there for us today," Tesch said."He's going to be a hybrid-type of a player like Lance Rongstad was last year where he'll play some quarterback and some running back. He's got some real good ability but you can see he had a hard time out there with all we put on him today. But he's a good, young kid."

Miller, a native of Dallas, Texas, was 2-for-4 passing for 19 yards and was the team's top rusher with 65 yards on a pair of carries.

Other than a few scattered big plays, it was tough day for the offense.

"I was a little disappointed in our running game today," Tesch said. "But some of that could be due to all the players we tried to get in there and get experience. Some we didn't want to play too much."

Last year's leading rusher, Dustin Kroeplin, had an appendectomy and was not cleared to play until earlier this week. He carried the ball just five times for 11 yards.

The defense limited the offense to 11 total first downs and made the game difficult with good pressure up front from the defensive lines.

Alex Mock, Dusty Sluzewicz, Bryan Syrstad and Jasmine Watkins recorded sacks for the defensive unit.

Garrett Lee had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter and Scheff had the defense's lone interception of the day.

"We really are focused on being disciplined this spring because we know we're not going to sneak up on anybody next year," Scheff said. "We have to win the games we are supposed to next year because we want to get to the playoffs for the first time ever in school history. We had the same expectations last year. We want to work hard for next season so we can make a run at the national playoffs."

BSU football spring game

Box score (unofficial)

Passing (c-a-yds-int-td): Rongstad 9-15-103-1-2, L. Miller 2-4-19-0-0, Edholm 0-3-0-0-0,.

Rushing (att-yds-td): L. Miller 2-65-0, Hemling 11-22-0, Rongstad 2-19-0, Kroeplin 5-11-0, Metz 2-4-0, Solars 2-3-0.

Receiving (rec-yds-td): Metz 4-66-1, Schultz 1-35-0, Plain 2-21-0, Leonhardt 1-19-0, Dale 1-7-0, Solars 1-6-1, Gandrud 1-6-0, Wakefield 1-5-0, Duncan 1-0-0.

Tackles: Beste 5, G. Miller 5, Olds 5, Wright 5, Kelly 4, Bromm 3, Crosby 3, J. Johnson 3, Schmidt 3, Sluzewicz 3, Watkins 3, Young 3, Belinger 2, Christensen 2, S. Johnson 2, Knutson 2, Mock 2, Sczepanski 2, Shaver 2, Stoffel 2, Syrstad 2, Wills 2, Zimmerman 2.

Sacks: Mock 1, Sluzewicz 1, Syrstad 1, Watkins 1.

Fumble Recoveries: G. Lee 1.

Interceptions: Scheff 1.