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FOOTBALL: Beavers go swimming after rolling 34-24 over Winona State

Bemidji State cannonballed back into the enticing waters of Lake Bemidji on Saturday, defeating Winona State 34-24 at Chet Anderson Stadium and embarking on its iconic homecoming lake jump for the first time in three years.

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The Beavers jump into Lake Bemidji after a 34-24 homecoming win against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Splish, splash, they’re taking a bath.

The Bemidji State football team cannonballed back into the enticing waters of Lake Bemidji on Saturday, defeating Winona State 34-24 at Chet Anderson Stadium and embarking on its iconic homecoming lake jump for the first time in three years.

“It’s electric,” senior defensive end Colbey Wadsworth said of the feeling. “It’s bliss.”

“It’s really surreal,” senior wide receiver Dhel Duncan-Busby added. “It’s just a crazy experience.”

The Beavers returned to their home away from home by jumping into Lake Bemidji, much to the merriment of screaming fans who began migrating to the shoreline midway through the fourth quarter. BSU bellowed out the school song, splashed around in the water and celebrated a much-needed homecoming win in style.

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“It was awesome. Been waiting to do that for a full year,” Bemidji State head coach Brent Bolte said. “I told them we were going to find a way. We had to. … I’m proud of the guys, and the water felt great.”

The Beavers (1-2) earned their first win of the season behind a stingy defense and an offense that hung 530 yards on the Warriors (2-1). All 2,408 in attendance were treated to an air raid from quarterback Brandon Alt, a defensive show that bulldozed WSU most of the day and -- most importantly -- a postgame parade to the water.

“The craziest thing is we haven’t even played our best yet. Not even close,” Bolte said. “That’s exciting. We have to get our guys there and continue to improve.”

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Bemidji State senior Dhel Duncan-Busby (14) jumps to avoid a Winona State defender during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Beavers tackle a Winona State ball carrier during the second half on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Duncan-Busby and Brendan Beaulieu both caught TD passes in the second quarter, and Jalen Frye rushed in for another as BSU jumped in front 20-10 by halftime. Even the scoreboard was deceiving, considering Winona State mustered its lone touchdown on an interception return.

The Warriors had nine yards of offense in the first quarter. They had four first downs by halftime. And they had four three-and-outs on their first six drives.

“It feels amazing to get those three-and-outs. It felt like we were on fire,” Wadsworth said. “The D-line especially has been really locked in on keeping the run locked down. We know Winona is a running team, so as soon as we took that off the table, it was cake after that.”

Beaulieu caught his second TD in the third quarter, and Sage Booker added the icing on the cake with a fourth-quarter touchdown rush that delivered Bemidji State a 34-18 lead.

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Bemidji State senior Brendan Beaulieu (19) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Winona State found the end zone with three minutes left, cutting within 10, but Jamel Stone had a nice pass breakup on the ensuing 2-point conversion to preserve the Beavers’ two-score lead. Beaulieu then recovered the onside kick to all but seal the deal.

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Beaulieu finished with seven catches for 132 yards, while Duncan-Busby racked up a career-high 148 yards on eight catches. Alt posted 371 yards on 24-for-36 passing, and Frye broke off big runs for 95 yards on the ground.

The defensive corps had four sacks and seven tackles for loss, holding the Warriors to 287 yards of offense.

“Honestly, it’s just trying to be one of 11,” Duncan-Busby said. “It’s just basically doing whatever I can to help the team win. I’m glad I was able to be a big contributor to us winning and getting in that lake.”

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Bemidji State president John Hoffman and his wife, Joy, jump in the lake alongside the Beavers after a 34-24 homecoming win against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The shore was packed with BSU fans seeking high-fives, cell phone videos and a chance to chant along with the team. They all got their wish as players, coaches and alumni charged through for the traditional swim.

It’s all a match made in heaven. Not only is the Chet situated just off the shore -- creating a top-tier setting for college football -- but Beavers are made for the water, after all.

“It’s a rush,” Bolte said. “It’s something that you never forget, and it’s awesome to experience.”

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Bemidji State fans cheer during the second quarter against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji State 34, Winona State 24

WSU 7 3 8 6 -- 24

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BSU 0 20 7 7 -- 34

First quarter -- WSU TD, Corbins Jr. 52-yard interception return (Scott PAT), 7-0 WSU.

Second quarter -- BSU TD, Duncan-Busby 49-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 7-7; BSU TD, Beaulieu 21-yard catch from Alt (PAT botched), 13-7 BSU; WSU FG, Scott 35-yard kick, 13-10 BSU; BSU TD, Frye 1-yard rush (Rodriguez PAT), 20-10 BSU.

Third quarter -- BSU TD, Beaulieu 15-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 27-10 BSU; WSU TD, Schleicher 23-yard catch from Paulsen (2-pt. conversion good), 27-18 BSU.

Fourth quarter -- BSU TD, Booker 2-yard rush (Rodriguez PAT), 34-18 BSU; WSU TD, Paulsen 7-yard rush (2-pt. conversion no good), 34-24 BSU.

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Bemidji State junior Jalen Frye (1) runs the ball during the first quarter against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Beavers run onto the field ahead of the homecoming game against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State sophomore Cade Barrett (97) battles with Winona State's Alec Morris (71) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State junior Brandon Alt (10) hands off the ball to Jalen Frye (1) during the second quarter against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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