Bemidji State shuts out Mustangs in second half, wins 30-14
The Bemidji State football team rallied from a slow start and dominated the second half Saturday night in a 30-14 road victory over Southwest Minnesota State.
The Beavers trailed 14-12 at halftime before Dustin Kroeplin ran for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns and the BSU defense shut out the Mustangs the rest of the way.
"Credit to the hogs -- our offensive line tonight," Bemidji State running back Dustin Kroeplin said. "We may not have had the best game last week but tonight we came out with the passion to play the game we love."
Bemidji State bounced back from last week's loss to Augustana and improved to 2-1 (1-1 NSIC) on the season. BSU will open up NSIC North Division play Saturday at No. 2 ranked Minnesota-Duluth (3-0 overall, 2-0 NSIC).
UMD defeated No. 18 ranked Wayne State 42-10 Saturday night and will bring a 22-game NSIC winning streak into the contest.
Lance Rongstad and Nate Solors scored Bemidji State's two touchdowns in the first half. BSU quarterback Derek Edholm was 14-of-25 passing for 183 yards, one touchdown and did not throw an interception in the win.
The Beavers rushed for 218 yards behind Kroeplin's team-high 18 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
The BSU defense was challenged at times by SMSU quarterback Ryan Ratekin's passing attack. He was 19-for-37 for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice: both on picks from BSU safety Dusty Sluzewicz.
The Beavers offense struggled early. Edholm was sacked and fumbled the ball on BSU's first drive of the game. SMSU recovered the ball and converted the turnover into points when Ratekin hit Shane LaDage on a 12-yard pass to give the Mustangs an 7-0 lead.
BSU responded just over a minute later when Edholm threw back-to-back 20 yard passes to set up the first Beaver points.
Lined up at quarterback, Rongstad rushed through the middle of the line for the touchdown with 8:09 remaining in the first quarter. Jesse Sundby's missed extra point prevented the Beavers from tying the game and BSU trailed 7-6.
BSU took its first lead of the game with 32 seconds left in the first quarter when Edholm connected with Nate Solors on a seven-yard touchdown pass. BSU led 12-7 after a failed two-point conversion.
Southwest scored the only points of the second quarter on Ratekin's 21-yard touchdown strike to Gannon Moore with 1:50 left.
BSU's two-minute offense earned the chance at a field goal and the the opportunity to take the lead at halftime, but Sundby's 36-yard kick bounced off the right upright.
BSU outgained the Mustangs in yardage 229-150 in the first half and 401-268 in the game.
Kroeplin put the Beavers back out in front in the third quarter when he followed Davis Mickelson's block untouched into the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown run. Edholm completed the two-point conversion on a pass to tight end Brian Leonhardt and the Beavers took a 20-14 lead with 8:13 remaining in the quarter.
BSU attacked Southwest's defense with the running game in the second half and Kroeplin made it 28-14 with a 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run with 3:31 left in the quarter.
Bemidji State went up 30-14 with eight minutes left in the game when Ratekin was flagged for intentional grounding in the Mustangs' end zone. The penalty resulted in a safety and BSU's Jordan Lardnois was credited with the sack.
The Bemidji State defense limited SMSU to just 31 rushing yards in the Beavers' 11th straight victory over the Mustangs.
Bemidji State 12 0 16 2 - 30
Southwest 7 7 0 0 - 14
S- LaDage 12 pass from Ratekin (Wenk kick), 9:21.
B- Rongstad 5 run (Sundby kick failed), 8:09.
B- Solors 6 pass from Edholm (conversion failed), :32.
S- Moore 21 pass from Ratekin (Wenk kick), 1:50.
B- Kroeplin 13 run (Leonhardt pass from Edholm), 8:13.
B- Kroeplin 2 run (Kroeplin run), 3:31.
B- Lardinois sack for Ratekin safety (Intetntional grounding), 8:04.