Alex Berg| Sports Editor| 9-29-2012
The Bemidji State University football team gave its fans a happy homecoming by defeating the University of Minnesota, Crookston (UMC) Golden Eagles 35-2 Saturday afternoon at Chet Anderson Stadium. After a long UMC drive that ended in a missed field goal, the Beavers marched down the field and capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown by senior runningback Dustin Kroeplin. Kroeplin led all rushers with 93 yards on 14 attempts.
That score came with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, and BSU led 7-0 after one quarter of play. On the first play of the next offensive drive, senior quarterback Lance Rongstad scrambled left for 34 yards and dove into the end zone to give the Beavers a 14-0 lead.
Rongstad ran for 61 yards on 10 attempts. He also had an efficient day in the passing game, completing 11 of 18 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Just three minutes later, on the second play of the drive, Rongstad connected with senior wide receiver Justin Lee for a 66 yard score, and BSU led 21-0. Lee led all receivers in the game with 86 yards on four catches, he also picked up 12 yards on the ground. The Beavers took a 21-0 lead to halftime with them.
With 2:55 remaining in the third quarter, Rongstad found senior tight-end Troy Dale in the end zone for a five yard touchdown. The touchdown was the first offensive play for BSU after a UMC fumble on a punt return. The Beavers, who have been doomed by turnovers in their previous two games, only turned the ball over one time on Saturday, while forcing the Golden Eagles to commit four turnovers.
“We played very well,” Rongstad said of the offense. “The biggest thing is that we did not turn the ball over. We had the capability of doing this all year, we finally put it all together today and did not hurt ourselves.”
Lee capped off an 80 yard drive early in the fourth quarter to give BSU a 35-0 lead. UMC got on the board with a safety but was unable to score on offense as BSU closed out the 35-2 win. The Beaver defense held the Golden Eagles to just 236 yards and only 4.1 yards per play.
“The defense has been playing great all year,” Rongstad said. “They have given up more points than what they should have only because we have turned the ball over deep in our own territory so many times.”
As the clock ran out, the entire BSU team, coaches, and even President Hanson rushed down past the lakeside end zone and into Lake Bemidji to celebrate the school’s homecoming tradition. Many of the 3,124 fans were waiting by the lake for most of the fourth quarter.
“The last opportunity to get in the lake means a lot,” Rongstad said. “Before the game, the seniors talked a lot about how today is about making memories, not just a football game. Fortunately, we were able to get a win and get in the lake.”
Bemidji State (2-3) will look to get back to the .500 mark with a victory over University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., next Saturday, October 6, at 2:30 p.m.
“It is going to take a lot of hard work,” Rongstad said. “It is tough to go into Mary and get a win, so we need to stay focused throughout the week.”