Here’s my story in Sunday’s Bemidji Pioneer.
Andrew Schultz could not help but reminisce about his Bemidji State football career during warm-up drills prior to Saturday’s homecoming game against Upper Iowa.
When the game began, the senior wide receiver lived in the moment and spearheaded the Beaver offense to a 51-12 win over Upper Iowa in front of an announced 3,200 spectators at Chet Anderson Stadium.
“I was thinking back to when I was a freshman and before the homecoming game the seniors would be out there during the pregame helping the younger guys, so I did that today,” Schultz said. “This was a great win for us. After not winning the homecoming game last year, we would have been disappointed if we lost this game.”
The feelings of last year’s homecoming loss, this year’s early-season struggles on offense and a pair of tough defeats were washed away in Lake Bemidji as the players jumped one by one into the water behind the east end zone.
Joining the Beaver football winning homecoming tradition this year was new university president Richard Hanson, who held up his promise of jumping in the lake if the Beavers won the game.
Bemidji State improved to 3-2 overall (2-2 NSIC) with the victory over winless Upper Iowa (0-5 overall, 0-4 NSIC) and will travel to Concordia-St. Paul next Saturday.
The Beavers defeated the Peackocks in dominating fashion. BSU led 31-0 at halftime and scored double-digit points in every quarter but the third.
BSU led 38-0 before Upper Iowa put their first points on the board.
“We were able to control the line of scrimmage today,” Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch said. “They had the game plan of waiting for us to self destruct like we’ve done at time this season. They wanted to make us earn it … they have some good skill kids, but we were just able to really pressure their quarterback and they couldn’t find anyone open. We really controlled the trenches.”
The offense was led by Shultz, quarterback Derek Edholm and the 281 yards rushing on the legs of Steven Battle, Dustin Kroeplin and Brandon Miles.
Schultz had three receptions for 57 yards and two first-half touchdowns – his second a highlight reel play where he leaped over three Upper Iowa defenders at the goal line for a touchdown. His 19-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter marked his 1,000 career receiving yards milestone.
“I honestly didn’t know I was that close to 1,000 yards,” Schultz said. “We’ve had so many great receivers here like Anthony Schrieber and Geroge Kadlec, so it feels great to be among that group.”
Edholm completed 12-of-18 passes for 175 yards for two touchdowns and rushed for one touchdown.
Battle and Kroeplin combined for 166 yards rushing. Kroeplin scored two touchdowns.
Also scoring an offensive touchdown in the win was wide receiver Justin Lee, who gave Bemidji State its final points of the day midway through the fourth quarter.
The defense had just as much to celebrate.
Linebacker Cory Crosby intercepted a pass deep in Upper Iowa territory and returned 10 yards for a touchdown to give Bemidji State a 17-0 late in the first quarter.
Senior defensive end Rob Wills led BSU with nine tackles, a forced fumble and two sacks.
The BSU defense limited the Peacocks to 223 total yards of offense and were stingy on third downs. Upper Iowa’s success rate on third down was 2-for-12 and the Peacocks were forced to punt eight times.
The Beavers went to their backups in the fourth quarter and even found playing time for third-string players.
And even when there was a mistake, like when Upper Iowa scored its first points of the game at the 5:16 mark of the third quarter, senior Aaron Roland blocked the extra point.
That was the story of the 2010 homecoming football game: seniors marking milestones and leading the way to a win.
“All this week I’ve been getting e-mails from alumni talking about some of their homecoming memories and that’s really what this weekend is all about,” Tesch said. “We share those memories at the all-football reunion at the Elks Club and I’m just glad this group of seniors is going to have something to remember.”