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Bemidji State's rushing attack overpowers Southwest Minnesota State in 41-10 win

Bemidji State's Dustin Kroeplin crosses the goal line for his second touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday night's game at Chet Anderson Stadium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The odds for a Bemidji State football victory are pretty good when Dustin Kroeplin scores a touchdown.

The chances are even better when the offensive line and running backs get involved.

Kroeplin rushed for a pair of first-half touchdowns and ran for a team-high 165 yards in Bemidji State's 41-10 win over Southwest Minnesota State on a windy Saturday night at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The Beavers rushed for 437 yards, six touchdowns and are now 14-1 when Kroeplin finds the end zone.

"I have to give a lot of credit tonight to the offensive line, they practice really hard every day and have come to play every game this year," Kroeplin said. "They come in not wanting to be good. They want to be great. You wouldn't be seeing us run the way we do without them and they never get enough credit."

Brandon Miles also had two rushing touchdowns for the Beavers. Christian Metz and Brad Hemling each scored one rushing touchdown.

Bemidji State improved to 3-0 (2-0 NSIC) and moved into a first place tie in the conference standings with Wayne State, Winona State and MSU, Mankato. BSU is the only undefeated team left in the NSIC.

"3-0 means a stepping stone for us," Kroeplin said. "We could be 1-2 and we don't take anything for granted. We still need to clean up our mistakes before Duluth because we're going to prepare like the best team in the country is coming in."

The Beavers remain home to face defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth next Saturday at 6 p.m. UMD lost to Wayne State 7-0 in Nebraska on Saturday. It was UMD's first loss in nearly two years.

The BSU defense continued its early-season roll against the Mustangs on Saturday. The Beavers limited Southwest Minnesota State, which scored 48 points in a win over U-Mary last week, to 40 yards rushing and 189 total yards of offense.

"The defense is playing really good," Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch said. "They had a good scheme and really took advantage today. They played well and held an impressive offense to 10 points. The story today was the defense and the guys up front on the offensive line."

Saturday's weather conditions were not favorable for a passing attack. The game was played under overcast skies and a steady 15 mile per hour east wind blowing across the length of the field.

"It was like a Hollywood script for us," Tesch said. "We wanted to win the toss, defer, make them play into the wind and score early. All those things fell into place."

Southwest Minnesota State had trouble completing passes into the wind and Bemidji State found success quickly on the ground.

The Beavers led 14-0 after the first quarter behind 2-yard and 5-yard touchdown runs from Kroeplin.

The Mustangs scored their only touchdown when Gannon Moore scored on a three-yard run three minutes into the second quarter to cap a 15-play drive. Mike Wenk's 29-yard field goal four minutes later cut BSU's lead to 14-10 and it was as close as the Mustangs would get.

Metz scored on a 24-yard reverse with 5:07 left in the second quarter and Brandon Miles ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown with 37 seconds remaining to put the Beavers up 27-10 at halftime.

Miles scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run five minutes into the third quarter and Hemling scored Bemidji State's final touchdown, a 38-yard run, eight seconds into the fourth quarter.

The second half was all Bemidji State.

The BSU defense allowed four first downs and 59 total yards in the second half. Buckley Wright had a team-high 12 tackles and one sack. Dusty Sluzewicz had BSU's lone interception of the day.

"We really felt like we needed to pick up the intensity after the first half," BSU safety Brody Scheff said. "I felt like we were able to bring a lot of pressure on the ball and that forced the quarterback to get the ball out quick. It is really exciting to go out and play defense when the offense is clicking like it was tonight."

SMSU 0 10 0 0 - 10

BSU 14 13 7 7 - 41

First quarter

BSU- Kroeplin 2 run (Pulkinen kick), 12:28.

BSU- Kroeplin 5 run (Pulkinen kick), 5:02.

Second quarter

SMSU- Moore 3 run (Wenk kick), 12:32.

SMSU- Wenk 29 FG, 8:45.

BSU- Metz 25 run (Pulkinen kick), 5:07.

BSU- Miles run (Pukinen kick failed), :37.

Third quarter

BSU- Miles 3 run (Pulkinen kick), 10:01.

Fourth quarter

BSU- Hemling 38 run (Pulkinen kick), 14:52.