BEMIDJI - Zach Pulkinen booted a 37-yard field goal with 48 seconds left to lift Bemidji State to a come-from-behind 41-40 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football game on a rainy Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium.
The Beavers (2-2?NSIC, 0-0 NSIC North) rallied from an 11-point (37-26) fourth-quarter deficit to earn their 13th straight victory over the Mustangs (2-2 NSIC, 0-0 NSIC North), dating back to the 1997 season.
BSU took advantage of an SMSU personal foul and converted a third-and-11 from its own 43-yard line with a 29-yard completion to set-up the game-winning field goal.
Photo by John Swartz, BSU Photo Services
Southwest Minnesota State punt returner Andrew McReynolds avoids a Bemijdi State tackler during a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football game Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji.
Lance Schuveiller gave the Mustangs a 40-38 lead with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left before the Beavers rallied with the game-winning drive.
Tyler Tonderum - who entered the game ranked third in the country in rushing - led SMSU with 224 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. It was his second 200-yard rushing game of the season, tying Rich Froemling and Ken Sather as the only Mustangs in history to record multi 200-yard rushing games.
SMSU quarterback Charlie Kern completed 17 of 42 pass attempts for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Cross caught a game-high five passes for 50 yards and one touchdown, while Anthony Dean had four receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown.
Avery Walker led the Beaver offense with 170 yards rushing and one touchdown on 29 carries and also caught a pair of passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mustangs racked up 506 yards of total offense and finished the game with 265 rushing yards. The BSU defensed entered the game allowing just 317 total yards, including 121 rushing yards through three games. The Beavers ended the game with 384 yards of offense, with 213 on the ground.
The SMSU defense - which forced four turnovers - was led by Jared Twedt, who recorded 12 tackles and one fumble recovery, while A.J. Page added 11 tackles with 2 1/2 for loss.
BSU returned the game's opening kickoff 65 yards, setting up a short field and the Beaver offense took advantage. Facing third-and-7 from the SMSU 12-yard line, BSU quarterback Alex Haas broke free and sprinted into the end zone for the game's first touchdown. SMSU blocked the point-after attempt to keep the score 6-0.
Following a Mustang punt, the SMSU defense forced its first turnover of the game, recovering a fumble at the Beavers' 44-yard. The Mustangs failed to take advantage and were forced to punt, when Mike Wenk kicked a perfect punt to pin BSU at its 1-yard line.
The Beavers made one third-down conversion, before Walker took a screen pass and ran 67 yards for a touchdown to give BSU a 13-0 lead with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
SMSU answered on its next possession, scoring its first touchdown of the game with Kern capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive on an 8-yard pass to Cross with 5:47 left in the quarter to trim the Mustangs' deficit to 13-7.
The SMSU defense forced the Beavers to punt on their ensuing possession but, on the Mustangs' next offensive play, Kern was intercepted at the 20-yard line and Connor Quinn returned it for a touchdown to push the BSU lead to 20-7 at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter.
Following an SMSU punt, the Mustang defense came through again, forcing another fumble with Jacob Levtzow recovering the ball at the Beavers' 31-yard. Just four plays later, Tonderum plowed across the goal line for a 4-yard touchdown to cut the Mustang deficit to 20-14 early in the second quarter.
SMSU took its first lead of the game midway through the second quarter, when Tonderum broke away for a career-long 77-yard touchdown run to give the Mustangs a 21-20 advantage. It was his second 70-plus yard touchdown run of the season.
BSU answered with its most impressive drive of the half to regain the lead. The Beavers' offense moved the ball 69 yards on 12 plays - including converting three third-down into first downs - with Walker grabbing a 6-yard touchdown pass from Hass to give BSU a 26-21 lead at halftime.
SMSU cut into its deficit early in the third quarter as Schuveiller drilled a 31-yard field goal with 9:41 remaining in the quarter to make the score 26-24.
Both teams exchanged punts, before the Mustangs' defense came through in a big way. McKoy Rodning intercepted Hass at the 15-yard line and returned for his first career touchdown and give the Mustangs their lead back at 30-26.
The SMSU defense came through again, just two plays later, when Andrew McReynolds forced the Beavers to fumble and teammate Jared Twedt recovered the ball, giving the Mustangs a first-and-10 at the BSU 26-yard line.
Just moments later, Kern fired a 26-yard strike to Anthony Dean for a touchdown to push the SMSU lead to 37-26 with 3:49 left in the quarter.
The Mustangs' defense forced another punt and the SMSU offense moved the ball to the Beavers' 30-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs, giving the ball back to BSU.
The Beavers countered with a critical drive on their next possession, including converting a fourth-and-2 at their own 48-yard, with a touchdown drive that moved the ball 70 yards on 12 plays. Hass connected with Brent Kondziolka on a 15-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.
SMSU picked up one first down on its next possession, but was forced to punt, and, following a 22-yard return by BSU's Kameel Al-Khouri, the Beavers had the ball at the SMSU 49-yard line. Just two plays later, Walker broke away for a 40-yard touchdown to push BSU back into the lead at 38-37.
SMSU had its own answer on its next drive with Kern connecting on passes of 38 yards to Will Kurka and 23 yards to Cross, moving the ball to the Beavers 22-yard line. SMSU moved the ball to the BSU 16, before settling for Schuveiller's 33-yard field goal.
Southwest Minnesota State returns home Saturday to face the University of Sioux Falls (2-2 NSIC) in the NSIC South opener for the Mustangs' annual homecoming game. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at The Schwan Regional Event Center.
Bemidji State 41, Southwest Minnesota State 40
SMSU7 14 16 3 - 40
Bemidji State20 6 0 15 - 41
BSU - Alex Hass 12 run (Zach Pulkinen kick blocked), 13:37.
BSU - Avery Walker 67 pass from Alex Hass (Zach Pulkinen kick), 9:05.
SMSU - Jordan Cross 8 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick), 5:47.
BSU - Connor Quinn 20 interception return (Zach Pulkinen kick), 3:13.
SMSU - Tyler Tonderum 3 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 14:20.
SMSU - Tyler Tonderum 77 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 8:10.
BSU - Avery Walker 6 pass from Alex Hass (Brent Kondziolka run failed), 1:51.
SMSU - Lance Schuveiller 31 field goal, 9:40.
SMSU - McKoy Rodning 15 interception return (Charlie Kern pass failed), 4:50.
SMSU - Anthony Dean 26 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick), 3:49.
BSU - Brent Kondziolka 15 pass from Alex Hass (Jordan Noskowiak pass failed), 8:29.
BSU - Avery Walker 40 run (Alex Hass pass failed), 5:37.
SMSU - Lance Schuveiller 33 field goal, 3:26.
BSU - Zach Pulkinen 37 field goal, 0:48.
Total Net Yards506384
Punt Returns-Yards3-minus 74-42
Time of Possession24:4435:16
RUSHING - SMSU (Tyler Tonderum 34-224, Caleb Burns 3-21, Mike Wenk 1-13, Charlie Kern 2-7); BSU (Avery Walker 29-170, Alex Hass 15-57, Derrick Dunn 1-1, TEAM 1-minus 15).
PASSING - SMSU (Charlie Kern 17-42-241-2-1); BSU (Alex Hass 11-21-171-3-1).
RECEIVING - SMSU (Jordan Cross 5-50, Anthony Dean 4-99, Britt Wickett 4-34, Will Kurka 1-38, Matt Overgaard 1-10, Cody Condon 1-8, Adam Olson 1-2); BSU (Josh Malone 3-16, Avery Walker 2-73, Brent Kondziolka 2-14, Matt Summers 1-29, Jared Roelofs 1-18, Juwaan Richard 1-14, Jordan Noskowiak 1-7).