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BSU football not as dominant, but still routs Wayne State 45-17

They weren't quite as dominant as they were in their upset win over Minnesota State last week, but the Bemidji State Beaver football team backed up its first national ranking since 2011 in a big way Saturday night.

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Bemidji State quarterback Jordan Hein (7) prepares to throw the football Saturday during a game against Wayne State held at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

They weren’t quite as dominant as they were in their upset win over Minnesota State last week, but the Bemidji State Beaver football team backed up its first national ranking since 2011 in a big way Saturday night.

The No. 24-ranked Beavers scored early and often to rout Wayne State, 45-17, in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action at Chet Anderson Stadium. It was an identical scoreline to last week’s dominant win over then-No. 6 Minnesota State in Mankato.

“It feels great to have that,” BSU senior defensive back Damon Benham said of BSU’s 3-0 start -- the first since 2011. “This team is something special, that’s for sure. And it was kinda unique to have that happen, the exact same score. We were hoping for a little less than 17 on the defensive end, but the offense is a dangerous squad.”

Benham, a senior from Deer River, had four tackles and two interceptions -- including one for a touchdown -- as the Beavers (3-0) held the Wildcats (0-3) to 322 yards and just 62 on the ground.

“He got dinged up, he did something to his hand and he’s still able to play,” interim head coach Brett Bolte said. “Damon is playing at a super-high level right now. He’s a good leader and a good player for us.”

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Although the Beavers scored 45 points for the second-straight game, Bolte said the offense wasn’t quite at 100 percent.

“We played well at times, but we also didn’t play well,” he said. “We can play better, that’s the good thing.”

Junior wide receiver Juwaan Richard, who had one second-quarter touchdown catch, said he agreed that the Beavers weren’t as sharp as they should have been.

“I felt like we had a good game, but on offense we could have done a lot better,” he said. “I would grade us at about a C-minus. But we’re capable of playing an A-plus.”

The Beavers had over 550 yards of offense last week against Mankato but had “just” 408 yards this week.

Quarterback Jordan Hein went 26-for-44 passing and had three touchdowns and three interceptions on 286 yards passing.

And although the Beavers didn’t make all the plays they needed to with the ball -- Richard said they had too many drops and didn’t hold their blocks well -- they did finish in the red zone to score when necessary. They went 6-for-6 inside 20 yards.

“Last year we weren’t too good in the red zone, so we made a big focus in spring ball and fall camp to be better there, and it helped tonight,” Richard said.

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Kicker Isaac Aanerud got BSU on the board with a 37-yard field goal on BSU’s first drive before capping their next possession with a 6-yard pass from Hein to Brady Schmidt.

The Beavers ended the quarter in style when Benham pulled in Wayne quarterback Zach Osborn’s pass with one hand. Benham ran 19 yards for the score with 29 seconds left.

In the second quarter, Hein’s 14-yard pass to Blake Holder gave the Beavers a 24-0 lead.

The Wildcats made things interesting when Osborn’s 3-yard pass to tight-end Keaton Slaughter broke up the shutout with 6:19 left in the half.

Although BSU answered in their next drive -- Hein with a touchdown pass to Richard -- a big play by the Wildcats on their next possession forced the BSU defense to make a stop.

With less than a minute to play, Osborn found Slaughter wide open down the field. The big tight end caught it at the BSU 30 and ran it all the way to the 3-yard line before being pulled down with 35 seconds to go.

The BSU defense didn’t budge. Osborn was sacked twice in the next three plays -- once by Jake Wirsching and then by Alex Burgess -- to force the Wildcats into taking a field goal.

The Beavers led 31-10 at halftime.

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BSU started the second half with a Hein interception. Wayne took advantage and scored a 17-yard touchdown from Osborn to Nick Roth, pulling to within 31-17.

That didn’t hurt the Beavers. BSU answered on the next drive, capping a seven-play, 63-yard possession with a two-yard Tahi Nomane touchdown.

The Beavers proceeded to methodically wear down the Wildcats in the fourth quarter, tacking on another Nomane touchdown for the final score.

BSU will go head-to-head with another ranked team next week on the road at Sioux Falls.

“I know they’re a good football team,” Bolte said. “We’ll have our hands full… Hopefully we’ll go down there and play well like we have on the road. (BSU) has played well 10 out of the last 11 we’ve been able to win, so hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Jack is a copy editor for Forum News Service.
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