FOOTBALL: Dragons reclaim Battle Axe in 31-26 win over Beavers
BEMIDJI -- An onside kick gave the Bemidji State football team the ball back late in Saturday’s game, but a fumble ended the Beavers’ comeback hopes as they fell, 31-26, to Minnesota State Moorhead at Chet Anderson Stadium. The Dragons reclaimed the Battle Axe Trophy with the win, their first in the series since 2016.
Trailing 28-13 with 6:30 to play in the third quarter, senior receiver Landon Jones grabbed his third touchdown of the day to make it a one-score game at 28-20 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Beaver defense held the Dragons (7-3, 5-1 NSIC North) to a field goal. Later, a missed MSUM field goal set up a six-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Alec Ogden to senior receiver Jameson White that narrowed the deficit to five points with 2:12 to play.
After the successful onside kick, however, Ogden was stripped of the ball on BSU’s first play as the Dragons recovered to squash the comeback.
“It’s frustrating,” said head coach Brent Bolte. “... Especially the way you get the onside kick, and then right away with the turnover.”
The Beavers struggled against the MSUM air attack. Quarterback Bryce Meehl passed for 424 yards and two touchdowns, while receivers Jake Richter and Grady Bresnahan burned BSU for 234 and 137 yards, respectively.
The absence of senior defensive back Gunner Olszewski proved costly to the secondary.
“Moorhead just ripped us in the passing game,” Bolte said. “It obviously hurt (with) Gunner not being out there today, but Mikey Junker is a good football player and they made a ton of plays over the top of him and John (Vogeler). They’re our two best guys. They had a tough day at the office. I’m not blaming it on those two guys but it was obvious they were going after them.”
The Beaver offense played more effectively after halftime. During a span of 3 minutes, 14 seconds in the third quarter, the teams answered touchdown-for-touchdown by scoring two apiece. Both BSU touchdowns went to Jones, who finished with career highs in receptions (eight) and touchdowns (three), along with 146 receiving yards.
“(Ogden) trusts me. He trusts me that when he throws the ball in the air, I’m going to go get it,” Jones said.
Ogden, a true freshman, posted career highs in passing yards (292), touchdowns (four) and completions (21) as he finished 21-for-37 through the air.
“Alec played a lot better in the second (half) and was able to throw it around,” Bolte said. “... I thought we had a good game plan. We just didn’t execute in the first half.”
The loss moves the Beavers to 6-4 overall on the season and 4-2 against NSIC North opponents.
The Mineral Water Bowl is likely out of the picture. But considering the team’s injury troubles, which led BSU to play a true freshman quarterback, Bolte said he’d take the position his team is in.
“I mean we have a lot of medical redshirts coming back. If you had offered 7-4 at the beginning of the year, I’d have probably taken it, closed it down and went recruiting,” said Bolte. “But the sad thing is, we could have very easily been 9-2 or 10-1, assuming we can get something accomplished next week. It’s just one of those seasons and we end up being in a lot of close games just because of the byproduct of some injuries. It’s going to bode well for us in the future.”
Bemidji State will host Minot State in a battle of the Beavers to close the season at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10.
“We’ve got a week left. We’re going to take Minot and we’re going to get after them,” Bolte said. “But I’m telling you, the future of BSU football is looking pretty good. We’ve just got to get through the growing pains a little bit.”
MSU Moorhead 31, Bemidji State 26
MSUM 0 14 14 3 -- 31
BSU 7 0 13 6 -- 26
BSU-2:15, Jones 16 yd TD pass from Ogden (Aanerud kick).
MSUM-7:17, Richter 10 yd pass from Meehl (Tjosvold kick).
MSUM-0:53, Simons 1 yd TD run (Tjosvold kick).
MSUM-8:27, Simons 2 yd TD run (Tjosvold kick).
BSU-7:19, Jones 11 yd TD pass from Ogden (Aanerud kick no good).
MSUM-6:30, Richter 70 yd TD pass from Meehl (Tjosvold kick).
BSU-5:13, Jones 6 yd TD pass from Ogden (Aanerud kick).
MSUM-6:38, Tjosvold 32 yd field goal.
BSU-2:12, White 15 yd TD pass from Ogden (2-pt conv. fails).