FOOTBALL: Beavers hit with doom and gloom, struck down 55-6 in NCAA Tournament

·4 min read

Nov. 28—GOLDEN, Colo. — A wildly historic year won't soon be forgotten by the Bemidji State football team.

But after 60 minutes against Colorado School of Mines on Saturday, the Beavers' season is just that: history.

"I love this team, so it was hard. It was kind of like a funeral after the game," BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. "But on the flip side, I'm just so thankful for what these guys have gone through to reach this point."

The Orediggers put a decisive end to the greatest season in Bemidji State's 95 years of football, rocking the Beavers to the tune of a 55-6 blowout in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"Any time you play in a game like this, it's never easy losing," senior nose tackle Josh Wleh said. "We've got to be grateful for setting a new standard here. It's allowed us to become a new program and do new things."

This season featured plenty of good: Program records came at a dime a dozen. Milestone wins followed BSU around all year. And a community got caught up in Beaver fever as the team marched further than ever before.

Bemidji State fans even traveled well, riding an eight-game win streak all the way to Golden, Colo. But they witnessed BSU's most lopsided loss since a 63-0 defeat against North Dakota in 1995.

"We put ourselves in positions to win football games, get us the NSIC championship, a first-round win," Bolte said. "A lot of things to be proud of, but a bitter taste (today). Certainly will lead to some good motivation for the offseason."

The body language, much like the scoreboard, wasn't great for the Beavers in the second half. Mines scored 35 points in the third quarter — which included three touchdowns within four offensive snaps.

That drastically changed the narrative of the first half. It was 13-0 at halftime, with Bemidji State (10-3) outgaining the Orediggers in yardage yet stuck scoreless after two empty trips to the red zone. Still, BSU was within striking distance behind a defense playing with pride and a passing attack that flashed promise.

But the Orediggers (11-1) flooded the scoreboard in the third quarter and never looked back. John Matocha threw touchdown passes of 65 and 48 yards, while Michael Zeman rushed for TDs of 1, 14 and 28 yards in the frame.

The Beavers scored when Hameed Oyedele returned a third-quarter kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, making up for his lost fumble on the opening kickoff. But Oyedele only brought them within 34-6, and they never got closer.

"It was surprising," Wleh said. "We made (halftime) adjustments, but at the end of the day, it came down to us not executing. I think the guys came to play hard. Everything was on point. But we just didn't execute or make enough plays. And that's the result."

The fourth quarter was a formality that simply ushered in the end of Bemidji State's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

"It just got away from us," Bolte said. "The outcome was set before that final horn went off, that's for sure."

BSU finished 3-for-14 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down. The Beavers mustered just 88 yards of offense in the second half, while the Orediggers beat them tenfold (296 to 29) during that dreadful third quarter.

Under center, Brandon Alt finished 17-for-42 for 274 yards, zero TDs, and four interceptions.

While the wound is fresh, one loss won't overshadow the unprecedented accomplishments of a program on the rise. Still a young group, Bemidji State is hopeful that this is just the start of an annual presence on the national scene.

"I hope these kids understand... we're right there," Bolte said. "(This season) pushes us in the right direction where we want to continue to perform with BSU football."

Colorado School of Mines 55, Bemidji State 6

BSU 0 0 6 0 — 6

CSM 6 7 35 7 — 55

First quarter — CSM TD, Matocha 4-yard rush (Eich PAT no good), 6-0 CSM.

Second quarter — CSM TD, McLeod 26-yard catch from Matocha (Eich PAT), 13-0 CSM.

Third quarter — CSM TD, Zeman 1-yard rush (Eich PAT), 20-0 CSM; CSM TD, McLeod 65-yard catch from Matocha (Eich PAT), 27-0 CSM; CSM TD, Zeman 14-yard rush (Eich PAT), 34-0 CSM; BSU TD, Oyedele 80-yard kickoff return (2-pt. conversion no good), 34-6 CSM; CSM TD, Johnston 48-yard catch from Matocha (Eich PAT), 41-6 CSM; CSM TD, Zeman 28-yard rush (Eich PAT), 48-6 CSM.

Fourth quarter — CSM TD, Foster 17-yard rush (Eich PAT), 55-6 CSM.

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