BEMIDJI -- A last-minute drive. A last-second touchdown. A roll-the-dice 2-point conversion to clinch the win. All amid a rainstorm with Bemidji State University celebrating homecoming on its centennial.
Saturday’s homecoming victory was one worthy of the occasion.
Trailing Augustana 20-13 with 1:12 to go in the game, the Beavers marched 95 yards in 10 plays for the game-winning touchdown, and 2-point conversion to boot, for a miraculous 21-20 win.
Players stormed the waters of Lake Bemidji after the final horn to celebrate BSU’s 10th straight win on homecoming in what was likely the most unforgettable of them all.
“This is probably the most remarkable game that I’ve really been a part of, maybe ever,” BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. “I just keep laughing because I still don’t know how we ended up winning that game.”
Bemidji State faced plenty of adversity before the game even started.
Down a running back and two quarterbacks due to injuries, third-string quarterback Emmett Enright was handed the keys to the Beaver offense. Making his first collegiate start, the redshirt junior stepped up when his team needed him most on a game-winning drive for the ages.
“Yeah, I did get the start, but we had a lot of different guys contributing to get this win,” Enright said. “It wasn’t just one, two or three people. The whole offense and the whole defense stepped up. … Just to cap off my first start like that, it was pretty special. I don’t think you could have written it up any better.”
The Madison, Wis., native completed three passes to kickstart the final drive, putting BSU at midfield with 40 seconds remaining. Enright then ran a keeper out of bounds for a first down and was hit late by a Viking defender. The 15-yard penalty set the Beavers up at the Augie 24.
Another Viking penalty two plays later, this one going 10 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, got Bemidji State down to the 12 yard line.
Facing third-and-10 with 4.6 seconds on the clock, wideout Malik Williams brought the crowd to its feet with his 12-yard touchdown reception. Williams made an almost identical catch a play earlier but his feet came down out of bounds in the back of the endzone.
“It was the same play back-to-back,” Enright said. “We were confident in him getting open twice because he’s that good.”
The 2-point conversion didn’t exactly go as planned, but luck was on the side of the Beavers. Running back Makaio Harn rolled out to pass and found tight end Matt Gross. Despite being tripped up by a defender prior to the throw, the senior got back to his feet and reeled in the pass as pure euphoria struck Chet Anderson Stadium.
“Credit Makaio Harn,” Bolte said. “He’s a true freshman in there, he bought time, he kind of deked the defenders.”
The decision to go for the win was a no-brainer for Bolte.
“I didn’t feel real comfortable going to overtime,” the coach said. “The kicking game, number one. You saw there were some bad snaps, and it was raining and blowing. … To win a game where you’re two-and-a-half yards out, you have to go for it.”
The decision paid off immensely, spawning a cold dip in Lake Bemidji, per homecoming tradition.
“It was cold, but worth it,” Enright said. “It never gets old jumping in that lake.”
The Beavers took an unconventional halftime lead of 13-2 thanks to a Viking safety. Mason Hoffer nailed two field goals and Dhel Duncan-Busby snagged a 75-yard touchdown pass from fellow receiver Brendan Beaulieu to close the first half. Beaulieu and Enright alternated time at quarterback with the former mainly running out of the wildcat formation, though he made first career pass attempt a memorable one.
A pair of field goals and a 5-yard touchdown run by Jarod Epperson gave Augustana (3-2, 3-1 NSIC South) its first lead of the day at 14-13 with 7:06 to play in the fourth quarter. The Vikings recovered a fumble near midfield, which led to a 7-yard quarterback keeper for Kyle Saddler that extended the lead to 20-13 with 1:14 to go. Crucially, Augie missed a pair of two-point conversions after the scores.
The rest is history.
Enright finished 11-for-23 with 101 passing yards and a touchdown, while Beaulieu rushed for a team-high 63 yards on 15 carries. Duncan-Busby totaled a game-high 95 receiving yards on four catches, including the touchdown.
Bemidji State (4-1, 3-1 NSIC North) will hit the road to face Southwest Minnesota State at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, in Marshall.
Bemidji State 21, Augustana 20
AU 2 0 3 15 -- 20
BSU 3 10 0 8 -- 21
BSU-4:47, Hoffer 22-yd field goal.
AU-1:21 safety Augustana.
BSU-5:09, Hoffer 34-yd field goal.
BSU-1:38, Duncan-Busby 75-yd TD pass from Beaulieu (Hoffer kick).
AU-9:53, Guarita 40-yd field goal.
AU-11:21, Guarita 35-yd field goal.
AU-7:06, Epperson 5-yd TD run (Saddler 2-pt conv. pass fails)
AU-1:14, Saddler 7-yd TD run (Reinschmidt 2-pt conv. run fails).
BSU-0:05, Williams 12-yd TD pass from Enright (Gross 2-pt conv. pass from Harn good).