ST. PAUL -- The Bemidji State football team squeezed a whole lot of action into four quarters of football.
The Beavers beat Concordia-St. Paul 42-14 on Saturday in St. Paul, turning in one of their most complete performances of the season behind a bevy of chunk plays.
“It was fun. Apparently we’ve saved them up over the last few weeks,” BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. “We left some out there in some other games, but we’ve got to get the ball rolling. And it was good. Our kids were getting the belief.”
Fireworks came in the form of Malik Williams, who sprinted to two 75-yard touchdown receptions for Bemidji State (4-2) in the third quarter. They came in the form of Jake West, whose 96-yard pick-six was the third-longest interception return in program history. And they came in the form of Sam McGath, Zollie Kaplan, Gabe Ames and a host of other Beavers who spoiled the Golden Bears’ homecoming.
“It was the best game that we’ve played in all three phases,” Bolte said. “That’s the nature of the beast when you play here at BSU: spread it out on (offense) and play as a group defensively.”
CSP (1-5) actually struck first, scoring on a double-pass trick play that caught the defense off guard. But Brendan Beaulieu answered for Bemidji State with a 51-yard catch and run on third-and-10 that leveled the score at 7-7.
McGath again showcased his savvy play on quarterback options in the second quarter. BSU’s backup QB twice entered and faked the sweep handoff to Sage Booker, instead keeping it himself for touchdown runs up the middle from the 6 and the 1.
That 21-7 score held through the half, but it was Williams’ time to shine in the third quarter.
First, he made a lunging grab on a deep ball, stayed on his feet, broke a tackle with a spin move and won a footrace for a 75-yard TD. Concordia-St. Paul immediately answered back with Lajuan Preston’s 71-yard rushing score, but Williams wasn’t done.
Two drives later, Williams had another 75-yard house call. This time, he caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage, made a man miss, and found a hole to pierce through the defense.
West put a capper on things with the only score of the fourth. Just when it looked like CSP would get within two scores midway through the frame, West jumped a poorly timed route and took it 96 yards the other way. Kaplan acted as West’s lead blocker on the return, buying him room to run for the final 60 yards.
Only Michael Junker (100 yards in 2018) and Jack Vinje (97 yards in 1948) have had longer interception returns in program history.
“Jake had an opportunity to make a big play,” Bolte said. “He jumped a route and had (Kaplan) down there close to the end zone.”
Bemidji State starting quarterback Brandon Alt finished 18-for-31 with 354 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Williams had 160 yards on three catches, and Booker led the rushing attack with 97 yards on 22 carries.
On the defensive side, Ames had a team-high seven tackles and recovered a fumble that Kaplan punched loose during one of his two sacks. Colton Herman also picked off a pass, and the defense forced three turnovers on downs, as well.
“Outside of maybe one play… man, it was fun,” Bolte said of the defense. “Kids were flying around, playing really physical, creating turnovers and getting after the quarterback. It was fun to see ‘Gang Green’ defense out there again.”
The Beavers will next prepare for the Battle Axe Rivalry, hosting Minnesota State Moorhead at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Bemidji State 42, Concordia-St. Paul 14
BSU 7 14 14 7 -- 42
CSP 7 0 7 0 -- 14
First quarter -- CSP TD, Shepley 40-yard catch from Peterson (Henson PAT), 7-0 CSP; Beaulieu 51-yard catch from Alt (Hoffer PAT), 7-7.
Second quarter -- BSU TD, McGath 6-yard rush (Hoffer PAT), 14-7 BSU; BSU TD, McGath 1-yard rush (Hoffer PAT), 21-7 BSU.
Third quarter -- BSU TD, Williams 75-yard catch from Alt (Hoffer PAT), 28-7 BSU; CSP TD, Preston 71-yard rush (Henson PAT), 28-14 BSU; BSU TD, Williams 75-yard catch from Alt (Hoffer PAT), 35-14 BSU.
Fourth quarter -- BSU TD, West 96-yard interception return (Hoffer PAT), 42-14 BSU.