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FOOTBALL: Beavers win 7th straight, gain ground in NSIC and super region

The Beavers picked up their seventh victory in a row on Saturday, cruising along to a 34-15 win over Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall and bolstering their resume with another blowout victory.

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The Bemidji State offenses takes the field during a game against Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Marshall.
Contribued / Creston Dalle
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MARSHALL -- The Bemidji State football team may or may not control its own destiny, but fate ought to look favorably on an ever-growing win streak.

The Beavers picked up their seventh victory in a row on Saturday, cruising along to a 34-15 win over Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall and bolstering their resume with another blowout victory.

After an 0-2 start to the season, BSU is doing all it can to clinch a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Bemidji State was one of 10 teams in the original (albeit unranked) Super Region Four rankings, and the playoff picture should come into clearer view when the second rankings (and first numerical rankings) drop on Monday.

Four of the 10 ranked Super Region Four teams didn’t escape Week 9, as Sioux Falls, Augustana, West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville all lost on Saturday.

With Sioux Falls losing, five teams also now stand atop the NSIC with 7-2 records. Bemidji State is the lone such team from the North Division, while Minnesota State, Wayne State, Winona State and Sioux Falls are all in the vaunted South Division. Those South teams will likely continue to beat up one another down the stretch, as well.

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Bemidji State assistant coach Jordan Hein (in black) greets the Beavers back on the sideline as fans cheer for them during a game against Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Marshall.
Contribued / Creston Dalle

As for Saturday, offense was unusually slow-going for Bemidji State (7-2) in the first half. Still, the Beavers cashed in with Joey Baron’s 2-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and Connor Cusick’s 21-yard field goal in the second quarter.

BSU turned up the heat in the second half. Dhel Duncan-Busby caught a Brandon Alt 42-yard pass for a touchdown, and after Jarrett Gronski blocked a punt, Cusick booted through a 23-yard kick to double the lead at 20-0 in the matter of a quarter.

The Mustangs (4-5) finally scored in the closing seconds of the third frame, as Jesse Sherwood avoided the sideline with a tightrope run into the end zone for a 17-yard catch.

But the fourth quarter belonged to Bemidji State.

Duncan-Busby and Baron both reeled in their second TDs on Alt passes, which also stood for Baron’s first multi-touchdown performance of his career.

Alt finished with four touchdowns and 359 yards on 25-for-38 passing, while Brendan Beaulieu (107) and Duncan-Busby (101) surpassed 100 receiving yards.

The Beaver defense came to play, too.

Maalik Knox snatched a pass out of the air for his first interception of the season, while Spencer Wehr led Bemidji State with nine tackles. The defense forced four SMSU three-and-outs and another turnover on downs -- and only two Mustang drives all day went more than 21 yards.

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Bemidji State will play in its home finale against Northern State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Bemidji State 34, Southwest MN State 15

BSU 7 3 10 14 -- 34

SMSU 0 0 7 8 -- 15

First quarter -- BSU TD, Baron 2-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 7-0 BSU.

Second quarter -- BSU FG, Cusick 21-yard kick, 10-0 BSU.

Third quarter -- BSU TD, Duncan-Busby 42-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 17-0 BSU; BSU FG, Cusick 23-yard kick, 20-0 BSU; SMSU TD, Sherwood 17-yard catch from Romero (Dicker PAT), 20-7 BSU.

Fourth quarter -- BSU TD, Duncan-Busby 5-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 27-7 BSU; BSU TD, Baron 13-yard catch from Alt (Rodriguez PAT), 34-7 BSU; SMSU TD, Hardel 21-yard catch from Romero (2-pt. conversion good), 34-15 BSU.

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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