FOOTBALL: Newcomers shine in BSU’s season-opening, 38-17 win
BEMIDJI -- A flurry of second-half touchdowns secured the Bemidji State football team a season-opening, 38-17 victory over Northern State on Thursday night at Chet Anderson Stadium.
The Wolves (0-1, 0-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North) came within a touchdown of the Beavers (1-0, 1-0 NSIC North) in the third quarter, but that was as close as the game got.
“We talked about there was going to be some peaks and valleys, and I think you saw that. Especially in the third quarter. I thought Northern kind of had the momentum,” BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. “But for the most part the other three quarters, I thought we handled the situation and made some big plays. That was probably the most noticeable thing again was that we had some weapons out on the field.”
The Beavers have a relatively young team, and many of those newcomers stepped up Thursday.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Alt threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start.
Senior Andrew Lackowski and redshirt freshman Jalen Frye led the Beavers out of the backfield with 141 and 109 rushing yards, respectively, with a touchdown apiece.
Senior transfer Landon Jones, sophomore Mannie Kugmeh and junior Jacob Anderson each caught touchdowns, with Jones leading with 102 receiving yards.
“Being young, they came out and they just showed what they could do and put their skills out on the line,” Alt said, “and you saw what happened. They’re very talented players and you just see it on the field.”
“It seemed like everybody on offense was clicking pretty well,” Bolte said. “Defensively, we played a few freshmen over there, too, and there’s a lot of guys that made plays in the statline that never made plays before.”
Senior safety Gunner Olszewski made a team-high 17 tackles, while sophomore linebacker Gabe Ames finished with 13.
“Defensively, we started a little slow. I think we were just trying to find our groove a little bit,” Olszewski said. “But, man, we’re good when we put everything together.”
On their opening drive, the Beavers had to settle for a 35-yard field goal after getting all the way to the NSU 5 yard line.
Three minutes and a defensive stop later, Jones got wide open running down the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown reception from Alt. The touchdown was the first in the pair’s BSU careers.
On the ensuing drive, NSU attempted a 32-yard field goal directly into the wind. The kick had just enough distance to get the Wolves on the board late in the first quarter.
With under two minutes to play in the half, Alt hit Kugmeh over the middle for an 18-yard touchdown pass. The Beavers stopped NSU on fourth down in the final minute to take a 17-3 advantage to halftime.
Northern was not ready to go home quite yet.
After the Wolves converted on fourth and long to enter the red zone, Gerald Maxwell punched in a touchdown from a yard out to narrow the deficit to 17-10 with 5:34 to play in the third quarter.
However, Lackowski answered in the closing seconds of the third quarter. The senior scampered 58 yards up the middle to the house for his first touchdown of the season, giving BSU a 24-10 lead as the quarter drew to a close.
A pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter put the game away for the Beavers.
Jacob Anderson hauled in a 40-yard reception from Alt to hand BSU a commanding 31-10 lead on the first score. Only 1 minute, 48 seconds later, Frye darted into open space for a 64-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career.
Bemidji State will encounter a familiar face next week when they hit the road for the first time. The Beavers will meet their former offensive coordinator, turned U-Mary head coach Craig Bagnell and his Marauders in Bismarck, N.D. next Saturday, Sept. 8.
Until then, BSU will enjoy their 1-0 start.
“It’s an awesome note to start the season on,” Olszewski said. “But we’re just going to look at all the negative stuff that we saw, and we’re just going to get better and better as the season goes on.”
Bemidji State 38, Northern State 17
NSU 3 0 7 7 -- 17
BSU 10 7 7 14 -- 38
BSU-10:33, Aanerud, 35 field goal.
BSU-7:30, Jones 71 pass from Alt, Aanerud PAT.
NSU-3:33, Tschakert, 32 field goal.
BSU-1:28, Kugmeh 18 pass from Alt, Aanerud PAT.
NSU-5:34, Maxwell 1 run, Tschakert PAT.
BSU-0:24, Lackowski 58 run, Aanerud PAT.
BSU-12:50, Anderson 40 pass from Alt, Aanerud PAT.
BSU-11:02, Frye 64 rush, Aanerud PAT.
NSU-6:34, Streit 15 pass from Trautman, Tschakert PAT.