BEMIDJI, Minn. (SMSU) – Bemidji State scored 25 unanswered points in the final nine minutes, including the game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds remaining, to earn a stunning 25-24 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday afternoon at the Schwan Regional Event Center.
It’s the second straight dramatic come-from-behind victory for BSU which improves to 5-1 overall. Last week BSU scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with five seconds remaining to defeat Augustana, 21-20.
SMSU (2-4), which had its two-game winning streak snapped, dominated for three-plus quarters in building a 24-0 advantage with 10 minutes and 16 seconds left in the game. BSU was limited to 203 yards and 10 first downs in the game’s first 49 minutes, but were able to rally with four straight scoring drives of 75, 60, 77 and 61 yards to earn the victory.
Emmett Enright connected with Malik Williams on a 27-yard touchdown for the game-winning touchdown pass.
SMSU finished the game with 391 yards, including 193 on the ground and closed with 21 first downs. The Mustangs’ balanced rushing attack was led by Duce Reynolds, who amassed a career-high 100 yards on 20 carries, while Max Simmons added 82 yards on 22 attempts.
Mustang quarterback Boyer Bouman completed 14 of 22 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdown. Daniel Davis had his eighth career 100-yard receiving game finishing with six receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns for SMSU.
The SMSU defense was paced by a career-high 16 tackles Onte Burns, who also had a pass break-up and a forced fumble. Marshawn Reese added nine tackles, while Gage Roberson and Garrett Chapman each chipped in with seven tackles.
The Mustangs opened the game with an impressive first drive moving the ball 71 yards on 11 plays as Bouman closed the drive connecting with Davis on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 9:59 left in the first quarter.
SMSU would add to the lead early in the second quarter as Bouman found Max Simmons for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 10:45 remaining to push the margin to 14-0.
The SMSU defense was outstanding in the opening half turning BSU over on downs twice inside the SMSU 20-yard line, while limiting the Beavers to five first downs and 122 yards.
SMSU closed the first half with 242 yards and 15 first downs.
BSU missed a field goal on its first drive of the second half and was stopped on downs following a fake punt near midfield on its second possession of the game. SMSU was able to take advantage of the big stop to expand the lead to three touchdowns. Following three runs by Reynolds moving the ball to the BSU 32-yard line, Bouman lofted a touchdown pass to Davis with 3:48 remaining to make the score 21-0.
The two teams exchanged punts before the Mustang defense came through again as Davaeon Johnson made a diving interception at the BSU 40-yard line setting up the SMSU offense in great field position. The Mustangs moved the ball down to the 11-yard line before having to settle for a Skyler Crew 29-yard field goal to push the margin to 24-0.
BSU started its comeback with just over 10 minutes remaining as Enright completed four straight passes including a 16-yard touchdown to Brendan Beaulieu with 9:04 remaining to cut the lead to 24-6. BSU’s two-point attempt failed.
The BSU special teams came through big moments later recovering an on-side kick at the BSU 40-yard line. The Beavers would convert three third-down conversions on the ensuing drive and scored on a Beaulieu 2-yard touchdown at the 6:13 mark to cut the deficit to 24-13.
SMSU recovered the ensuing on-side kick, but was unable to pick up a first down and was forced to punt with four and a half minutes remaining.
BSU marched down the field on eight plays on its next drive, covering 77 yards in less than two minutes, with Jalen Frye scoring a 1-yard touchdown with 2:44 remaining making the score 24-19.
SMSU once again recovered BSU’s on-side attempt and took over looking to seal the victory. Following a pair of runs, two BSU timeouts and a short pass, SMSU faced fourth and three from the BSU 39-yard line. SMSU elected to go for the victory but Bouman’s pass fell incomplete giving the ball back to BSU with 1:38 remaining.
Enright completed two passes and took advantage of an SMSU penalty to set up first down at the SMSU 29-yard line. Following an incomplete pass, Enright was sacked by Adihia Bell moving the ball back to the 32-yard line. After another incomplete pass, an SMSU penalty and an SMSU timeout with 24 seconds remaining, Enright found Williams open for the 27-yard game-winning touchdown.
SMSU completed one pass to the BSU 40-yard line on the ensuing drive but the time expired as BSU earned the comeback victory and has now defeated SMSU in 15 of the last 16 meeting.
BSU finished the game with 464 yards of offense and 23 first downs. Williams caught 11 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown while Beaulieu added nine catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. Enright completed 26 of 43 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 38 yards.
Southwest Minnesota State continues play versus NSIC North opponents next Saturday, Oct. 19, taking on St. Cloud State (3-3) with kickoff set for 1 p.m. in St. Cloud, Minn.