COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Beavers' playoff hopes Axed (photo gallery)
BEMIDJI--It had all the makings of an instant classic: Two rivals--one in the playoff hunt and another looking to spoil--playing for a trophy. A high-scoring fourth quarter featuring multiple back-and-forth scores.
BEMIDJI-It had all the makings of an instant classic: Two rivals-one in the playoff hunt and another looking to spoil-playing for a trophy. A high-scoring fourth quarter featuring multiple back-and-forth scores.
And, finally, a hook-and-ladder play on fourth down which led to a touchdown that would have forced overtime-if not for the extra point attempt dinging off the upright.
In the end, the Bemidji State football team couldn't come away with the miracle finish and lost, 42-41, against rivals Minnesota State Moorhead on Saturday afternoon at Chet Anderson Stadium.
"We didn't play our best game, but we had our chances. In the end, it just wasn't enough," said BSU junior wide receiver Vince Dinkel, who caught the initial hook-and-ladder pass as well as the ensuing touchdown. "It's a roller coaster of emotions. We were sad to see it come out that way, but what can you do?"
The loss drops the Beavers to 7-3 overall (4-2 in the NSIC North) and all but ends their hopes for an NCAA playoff berth. It also gives the Battle Axe trophy back to the Dragons, who lost it last season after winning in 2013 and 2014.
"It's tough," BSU interim head coach Brent Bolte said. "It eliminated us from the playoffs and put us in the picture with a lot of other teams that are going to be in Mineral Water Bowl consideration. It was a demoralizing loss. It was frustrating and a tough one but the kids are going to have to respond and get ready to go next weekend."
Behind the 366-yard, four-touchdown passing performance of quarterback Demetrius Carr, the Dragons (6-4, 4-2 NSIC North) had rallied from a 28-20 third-quarter deficit to take a 42-35 lead with 4 minutes, 34 seconds, to go in regulation.
Junior wide receiver Juwaan Richard had appeared to tie the game on the ensuing kickoff, running the ball back 99 yards for a touchdown, but the play was called back after a block to the back penalty.
Instead, Beavers quarterback Jordan Hein threw an interception on that drive, giving MSUM the ball again with 2:25 to go.
The BSU defense managed to get a stop and got the ball back with 1:57 to work with thanks to some questionable playcalling from the Dragons, who attempted two passes, both of which dropped incomplete.
Hein, starting from the Beavers' 24, completed two passes to Blake Holder (for five and 37 yards) to get BSU down to the Dragons' 39.
But on the next three plays, the Dragons sacked Hein three times-Deiondre Taylor, Abe Roehrich and Devante Delbrune each got to Hein. The Beavers lost a total of 27 yards, setting up a fourth-and-36 with 58 seconds left.
BSU took its final timeout, which set up their final shot at the end zone with the hook-and-ladder.
It worked perfectly. Dinkel caught the pass at the MSUM 42 before he tossed it into the waiting arms of Richard, who carried it a further 25 yards for the first down.
The Beavers scored on the next play-Hein to Dinkel in the corner of the end zone for 17 yards-and MSUM head coach Steve Laqua couldn't help but admire the playcalling.
"We were trying to get some pressure, we were fortunate enough to get Hein a couple times," he said. "But hats off to them. On 4th and 36, they make the play. That's phenomenal playcalling and execution, but they have really good coaches over there."
The Beavers had a chance to tie it on the extra point attempt, but Mason Hoffer's kick bounced off the upright.
"It's tough on Mason," Bolte said of the freshman kicker. "That game wasn't won and lost with him missing that kick. We should have scored, I thought we left two TDs out there. We had a that touchdown called back (on the kickoff). It's just frustrating.
"Bottom line is, we just didn't execute well enough to win the game in critical situations."
BSU actually outgained MSUM in total offensive yards-508 to their 439-but the Dragons' defense forced four turnovers and managed to stop BSU three different times inside the 35-yard-line. The Beavers were 2-for-13 converting on third downs and 2-for-7 on fourth downs. Additionally, the Dragons also sacked Hein seven times.
"Our defense has struggled over the years," Laqua said of his defense. "Last year we gave up 35 points in the second half to this team. They have a great offense, and we knew we weren't going to stop them. We were just hoping to contain them. I don't even know if we contained them, but we ended up with one more point and that's all that matters."
Hein finished the game with 275 yards passing, going 14-for-24 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Tahi Nomane was BSU's leading rusher, going for 100 yards on 17 attempts and two touchdowns.
Carr was 26-for-42 for MSUM with four TDs-three to Damon Gibson and another to Cory Ambrose. Both Gibson (128 yards) and Ambrose (145) surpassed 100 yards receiving on the afternoon.
The Beavers return to Chet Anderson Stadium next Saturday for their regular-season finale.
"Our chances our playoffs don't look as bright as they did yesterday," Dinkel said. "But we have to control what we can control. We'll try and win this last game and see where it takes us."
MSU Moorhead 42, Bemidji State 41
MSUM 13 7 8 14-42
BSU 14 7 7 13-41
MSUM-Ambrose 29 pass from Carr (Tjosvold kick), 07:39.
BSU-Holder 77 pass from Hein (Hoffer kick), 05:54.
BSU-Nomane 1 run (Hoffer kick), 4:25.
MSUM-Gibson 2 pass from Carr (Tjosvold kick blocked), 02:01.
BSU-Nomane 21 run (Hoffer kick), 14:18.
MSUM-Gibson 11 pass from Carr (Tjosvold kick), 07:11
BSU-Hein 1 run (Hoffer kick), 11:20.
MSUM-Gibson 24 pass from Carr (Gibson pass from Carr), 1:34.
MSUM-Stone 1 run (Tjosvold kick), 8:54.
BSU-Adams 12 run (Hoffer kick), 7:11.
MSUM-Carr 4 run (Tjosvold kick), 4:34.
BSU-Dinkel 17 pass from Hein (Hoffer kick failed), 0:39.