College football: Bulldogs pitch third straight shutout during Bemidji snowstorm
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Thursday night's battle for the NSIC North Division lead was played under conditions that were fitting for a pair of northern Minnesota football teams.
BEMIDJI, Minn. - Thursday night's battle for the NSIC North Division lead was played under conditions that were fitting for a pair of northern Minnesota football teams.
Minnesota Duluth handled the wintry weather better than Bemidji State, winning 17-0 at a snow globe-like Chet Anderson Stadium.
The Bulldogs (7-2 overall, 5-0 NSIC) take control of the North Division with the victory, breaking a tie with the Beavers (6-3, 4-1) by registering their third consecutive shutout for the first time since 1934.
Neither team could get much going offensively with the snowy conditions and a strong westerly wind that stifled the passing game and led to eight fumbles.
"I've never been in anything like this - 40- or 30-mile-an-hour winds or whatever it was tonight," Bemidji State coach Brent Bolte said. "It was absolutely brutal. The game was won and lost if you didn't produce with the wind, and in the first and third quarters, we didn't do anything with it in terms of getting our offense field position and/or stopping them at times.
"We just didn't play well enough at times to earn a victory. It wasn't for lack of effort. Our kids played their butts off and they competed and competed."
The Bulldogs outgained the Beavers 255-50, including 224 yards on the ground to just eight for Bemidji State. UMD possessed the ball for a whopping 43 minutes, 37 seconds, and ran 74 plays on offense to 36 for the Beavers.
"Our offense stood on the sideline for the vast majority of the game, which is unfortunate," Bolte said. "And when they had opportunities to do stuff, we missed some things, we turned it over unfortunately. But it was brutal out there. Our kids played hard. We just didn't get any breaks and, unfortunately, that reflects in the score."
By halftime, the teams had combined for eight punts and three turnovers. All told, each team fumbled four times with Bemidji State losing three and UMD two.
The Beavers could only muster 32 yards of offense and one first down in the opening half as the weather and the UMD run defense wreaked havoc on the offense.
Bemidji State won the coin toss and deferred, forcing the Bulldogs to go into the wind right off the bat. The Beavers forced a three-and-out and secured a first down on their first drive - one of only three first downs on the night - but that's where their luck ran out.
"We're certainly more of a spread-oriented team and want to be able to run the perimeter and do some things but we just couldn't," Bolte said. "We couldn't get anything laterally going and that's not what you want to do in snow and you want to be downhill."
With the passing game severely hampered, Duluth's running game provided the only scoring in the opening 30 minutes.
Running back Anthony Wood rushed for two first-half touchdowns to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
The junior punched it in from 2 yards out for the first score of the game with 7:17 left in the first quarter. Quarterback John Larson ran a 41-yard keeper on third down to set UMD up deep in the red zone on a drive that began after a blocked punt.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs faced fourth down and a yard to go on another trip to the red zone. Wood rushed 16 yards through the snow for his second touchdown of the game with 12:00 left in the first half.
UMD ate up most of the third quarter on a 19-play, 86-yard drive that consumed 11 minutes, 45 seconds, and extended into the fourth quarter. Dan Branger capped the drive with a 22-yard field goal to increase UMD's lead to 17-0 with 14:18 to go to secure its 16th straight win over the Beavers.
Minnesota Duluth 7-7-0-3-17
Bemidji State 0-0-0-0-0
UMD - Anthony Wood 2 run (Dan Branger kick), 7:17
UMD - Wood 16 run (Branger kick), 12:00
UMD - Branger 22 field goal, 14:18
First downs.................................. 13 3
Passing..................................... 31 42
Comp-Att-Int....................... 3-7-0 6-13-0
Kick returns-yards................... 0-0 3-80
Punts-yards.......................... 4-32.5 6-18.2
Fumbles-lost.............................. 4-2 4-3
Penalties-yards........................ 3-20 1-10
Time of possession................. 43:37 16:23
RUSHING - UMD, Anthony Wood 29-104, John Larson 10-65, Austin Sylvester 20-50, Bryce Heim 4-10, Nolan Folkert 1-3, James Conner 1-0, Dominic Bonner 1-(-6), Team 1-(-2). BSU, Andrew Lackowski 8-14, Jordan Hein 9-6, Jared Henning 1-1, Tahi Nomane 3-(-1).
PASSING - UMD, Larson 3-7-31-0. BSU, Hein 6-13-42-0.
RECEIVING - UMD, Balts 2-22, Tyler Lattery 1-9. BSU, Christian Lunde 2-26, Lackowski 2-12, Mannie Kugmeh 1-4, Jacob Anderson 1-0..