Bemidji State football broke open a scoreless game at halftime with a 24-point explosion in the third quarter to defeat Winona State 31-7 on Saturday in an NCAA Division II national football tournament first round game at Chet Anderson Stadium.
With frigid temperatures in the single digits and swirling winds for the Beavers’ first-ever national tournament game on home field, both teams failed to gain any offensive traction in the first half. Two interceptions and a lost fumble contributed to grounding BSU’s high-flying offense, while the Warriors missed a field goal in the first quarter.
The Beavers quickly flipped the switch in the second half, piling up 31 unanswered points by scoring on their first five drives of the new half. Receiver Brendan Beaulieu added another stellar chapter to his memorable season, catching five passes for 138 yards and an astonishing four touchdowns–three of which came in the third quarter. Beaulieu hauled in touchdown grabs of 38, 29, 32, and 24 yards from Brandon Alt, who finished 16-of-24 passing for 260 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Connor Cusick added a 22-yard field goal in the midst of Beaulieu’s third quarter explosion that gave BSU a 10-0 lead at the time.
On defense, the Beavers forced eight punts and recovered two fumbles while piling up five sacks. Zollie Kaplan led the swarming effort with 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss, while Spencer Wehr had seven tackles and a fumble recovery.
The win is Bemidji State’s tenth in a row, breaking an 82-year old program record for most consecutive victories. The 10-2 Beavers have advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season, and will play Super Region 4 top seed Angelo State on Saturday at 1pm at San Angelo, TX.