Zahniser sets new Minot State rushing record
When Roseville football alum Ben Zahniser arrived at Minot State this past offseason, he had no idea he could become the featured weapon in the Beavers’ offensive attack as a true freshman.
But thanks to a pair of standout performances, Zahniser has earned an increased workload and become the Division II team’s star running back in just two short months.
Last Saturday, the Roseville grad set a school record with 264 yards on the ground as he helped Minot State beat Minnesota Crookston in chilly North Dakota.
“I wasn't thinking about the record at all, nor did anyone tell me that I was close,” Zahniser explained. “It was a tight game and all I could really think about was helping our offense get into a position to continue scoring so we would win.”
Zahniser tied another record as he scored four of his team’s five touchdowns to help the Beavers earn a 38-30 win in league play.
The Tigers former running back showed his new school what he could do with solid blocking up front.
“I have to give the credit to the linemen,” Zahniser told MSU staff of the school record. “I saw some holes during the game I've never seen before in my life. I really expect us to be good over the next few years. This gives us some confidence.”
Zahniser scored on runs of 65, 43, 45 and 7 against Crookston and his 264 rushing yards topped the school’s previous record of 251 set by Darrik Trudel back in 2002 against Valley City State.
"You never go into games thinking a record could be broken, but Ben's done a nice job," MSU’s head coach Tyler Hughes said in a postgame press conference. "All year we've emphasized that our backs are sharp with their reads and cuts. We've been working on it all year, but especially this week and it showed. He had some great reads and great cuts which allowed for those big runs. Credit him for that.”
The standout performance came one week after a 111-yard and two-touchdown performance against Bemidji State on the road. Zahniser, who registered a blazing-fast 70-yard TD burst in the second quarter of that game, became the first Minot State rusher with a 100-yard game this season and the first since Jarvis Mustipher's 175 yard effort in week 7 last season.
With eight games under his belt, Zahniser has now accumulated 447 yards on the ground, which is good for second on the team, while his 6.2 yards per carry and six scores rank first.
Although last Saturday’s victory was just the second win for Minot State this season (2-6 in NSIC play and 1-3 in the NSIC North Division), the team ends the year with three winnable games. With Zahniser’s contributions, the team should end the season with a win streak.