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FOOTBALL: One last chance for BSU’s postseason hopes

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State football team didn't let one bad game ruin their season. Although the Beavers' 42-41 loss to Minnesota State Moorhead last weekend was disappointing -- and also all but eliminated them from NCAA Tournament considerati...

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State football team didn’t let one bad game ruin their season.

Although the Beavers’ 42-41 loss to Minnesota State Moorhead last weekend was disappointing -- and also all but eliminated them from NCAA Tournament considerations -- the Beavers still have one final chance to make things right.

The Beavers host U.S. Highway 2 rivals Minnesota Crookston today at Chet Anderson Stadium in the Battle for the Hubcap trophy. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Against MSUM, BSU took 189 yards of penalties against the Dragons, left a number of touchdowns on the table and had three turnovers.

“We had a tough one last week,” BSU interim coach Brent Bolte said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win. I really feel bad the way the outcome happened but I think we self-inflicted too many issues ourselves and caused our own demise in a lot of ways. Moorhead has a really good offensive team, but we didn’t execute well enough.”

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“But we still have a lot to play for. Considering it’s Senior Day, I assume our guys are ready to roll.”

The Beavers are 7-3 overall. And although their NCAA tournament bid is basically over, the Beavers still have a chance to play in the postseason if they can win today. A Mineral Water Bowl berth could be in BSU’s future.

Bolte said he wasn’t sure of the exact criteria for the bowl game, but knows the Beavers have a good shot provided they can win. The Mineral Water Bowl, held yearly in Excelsior Springs, Mo., pits the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference against the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The top two teams in each conference that don’t make the NCAA Tournament receive bids to the game.

“To me it’s like algebra, so I’m not going to try and answer because I honestly don’t know,” Bolte said on the selection criteria. “But from what I’ve heard it seems like we have a decent shot depending on what happens with wins and losses…. But we’ll see. We’re not taking anything for granted this weekend either so we’ve got to figure out a way to get this one done and then worry about it on Monday if we’re fortunate enough to get into it.”

One thing that could work in BSU’s favor: Of the other three-loss teams in the NSIC -- Winona State, Augustana and Minnesota State Mankato -- it’s been the longest since the Beavers have made a Mineral Water appearance. The Beavers have made one previous Mineral Water Bowl appearance -- in 2006, when they lost to Pittsburg State (Kan.) 35-27.

Before that can happen, though, the Beavers have to take care of business against winless Crookston. The Golden Eagles are 0-10 and have lost all 10 games by an average of 33 points per game. The closest they came to victory was a 38-30 loss to 2-8 Minot State.

Even so, BSU junior running back Tahi Nomane, who ran for 100 yards on 17 carries and had two touchdowns, said the Beavers won’t be taking the Eagles lightly.

“We have to play our style of football,” he said. “It was a tough loss to Moorhead but we have to look past it and keep getting better, regardless of opponent. We can’t take Crookston lightly. They’re still a pretty good football team, and they have some good athletes there. They haven’t won a game all year but they have a great group of guys on defense. They have some good athletes who fly around and make plays.”

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The Beavers are 21-2 all-time against the Golden Eagles. After BSU lost to UMC 16-14 in 2013 in Crookston, BSU has made a point not to let that happen again. They won 38-3 in 2014 and 41-7 last season.

“It’s human nature when you look at (UMC’s) record and stats and stuff, but I’ve said it once and I’ve said it a million times: It’s not who we play, it’s how we play,” Bolte said. “So that’s the continuing theme. We have to take care of business. Play better, play cleaner, and have fun. It was a frustrating loss last weekend, a frustrating way to play. We’ll take our frustration out on Crookston, I guess. That’s the only way to look at it.”

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