DII Football: Bemidji State knocks off No 6 Minnesota State
MANKATO, Minn. -- Bemidji State University continued its pursuit for the top of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Saturday evening, knocking off No. 6 Minnesota State University Mankato on the road. The Beavers beat their first ranked opponent since 2011 and the Mavericks for the first time since 2005.
Bemidji State entered the game last beating Minnesota State, Mankato in 2005 but took the challenge head-on after offensive explosions during week one of the season. The Beavers also battled against odds having last beat a ranked opponent in 2011, taking down No. 6 ranked St. Cloud State University, 19-14.
The Beavers offense replicated its fast start from a week ago to jump to a 17-0 lead against the Mavericks. Bemidji State’s first drive took just four plays to drive 73 yards and score the game’s first touchdown. Junior quarterback Jordan Hein found senior wide receiver Juwaan Richard running down the right side of the field for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Bemidji State doubled its play count on its next drive but a 28-yard connection between Hein and senior wide receiver Vince Dinkel set up junior running back Tahi Nomane with his second touchdown of the season and a 14-0 lead for the Beavers.
The Mavericks first entered the Beavers’ territory late in the first quarter and finished the drive with a missed field goal opportunity from 34 yards out. After sophomore kicker Isaac Aanerud converted a field goal from 38 yards out to start the second quarter, the Mavericks’ quarterback threw an interception to senior defensive back Kameel Al-Khouri to set up the Beavers’ offense at the MSU 45. The Beavers drove in their final score of the first half after a start from inside the Mavericks’ territory. Hein completed two passes before extending the lead to 24-0 before half with a seven-yard touchdown run.
Minnesota State opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 79-yard drive to get on the board. A quarterback scramble from five yards out gave the Mavericks their opportunity to stay in the game. The Beavers answered to keep their momentum as the offense went 10 plays and 78 yards. Nomane punched in his second touchdown of the game, this time from one yard out to give Bemidji State a 31-7 lead halfway through the third quarter.
Hein and Nomane each rushed for one touchdown in the final quarter to solidify the first Bemidji State win against a ranked opponent in five years.
Hein finished with 306 passing yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns while Nomane totaled three on the night. Senior defensive back Damon Benham led the “Gang Green” with 10 tackles followed by junior linebacker Jamison Evans and sophomore corner back Gunner Olszewski with eight. Olszewski joined Al-Khouri with one interception on the night.
Bemidji State returns for the Shrine Game Saturday, Sept. 17 as Wayne State College enters Chet Anderson Stadium. The Beavers and Wildcats kick off at 6 p.m.