Winona State Warriors take down #25 Bemidji State
A Winona State Warrior Football team with something to prove, defended their home turf by taking down the #25 team in the country, the Bemidji State Beavers, 30-20 at Maxwell Field at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium.
Darren Beenken (Sr. – Farmington, MN), who had spent the past three seasons as a backup quarterback to Jack Nelson, had his first career start, and made the most of his opportunity. Beenken led the Warriors to a touchdown on their first drive of the game, capped by a 19-yard pass to Jake Balliu. That would be the only scoring play of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Warriors started the scoring, with a 14-yard TD run by Winona Senior High School graduate Eric Birth, with 12:11 left in the quarter.
Bemidji State would get on the board about five and a half minutes later, when Isaac Aanerud connected on a 32-yard field goal, to cut the Warrior lead to 14-3.
Beenken would strike one more time before the end of the half. He found Aitor Flood in the right corner of the end zone on a 10-yard pass, with 1:56 left in the first half to extend the Warrior lead to 20-3.
Bemidji State would use a quicker paced offense to keep the game within reach, when Aanerud hit his second field goal of the game, this time from 34 yards out, to end the half with Winona State up 20-6.
After the break, the Beavers kept the game interesting when John Vogler intercepted Beenken with 11:21 to go in the third quarter, and returned the pick 24 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap to 20-13.
7 points would be as close as the Beavers would get. Eric Birth capped a Warrior drive with a 2-yard TD run, his second score of the game, to put the Warriors on top, 27-13, with 4:39 to go on the third quarter clock.
The Beavers last gasp would come on their next offensive drive. Hein completed his second touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yard strike to Blair Van Ess to make the score 27-20 WSU just before the end of the third quarter.
Penalties, and a late turnover would stop the Beavers from scoring again. WSU would add an insurance score, a 28-yard FG from Carter McCauley with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter to give the Warriors a 10-point lead, and end the scoring at 30-20. Andrew Spencer would ice the game with an interception deep in Warrior territory with just over a minute left to play.
Beenken ended his first Collegiate start 24-of-35 for 308 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 149.9. He completed passes to 12 different receivers, led by Elliot Cox, who caught 3 passes for 62 yards. Balliu had 4 catches for 43 yards, and a score. Will Claussen had one catch for 55 yards. WSU had just 62 yards rushing.
Defensively, Winona State allowed 308 yards passing to Hein, but only gave up 57 yards on the ground. The Beavers committed 12 penalties for 106 yards, while the Warriors had 10 penalties for 138 yards.
The Warriors will travel to St. Cloud next week, for 6 pm game on Saturday, September 9. WSU’s next home game is September 16, against MSU-Moorhead. That game can be seen live on HBC TV 25 with a 1 p.m. kickoff.