ST. CLOUD – When No. 5-ranked Moorhead and Bemidji players shook hands after a 34-30 Spuds victory in Week 1 of the season, Lumberjacks players said, “See you in November.”
The Lumberjacks got their wish and ran with it. Literally.
Brady Schmidt rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries to lead Bemidji to a 35-14 win over the Spuds in the Minnesota Class 5A quarterfinal matchup at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State on Saturday.
The win sends Bemidji into the state semifinals at 7 p.m. next Saturday. The Jacks will face Totino Grace of Fridley.
“I always tell the kids, ‘Beat a team once and you’re better than them that night. Beat a team twice and you’re the better program,’” Moorhead coach Kevin Feeney said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do our job tonight.”
A steady fog hung over the field of Husky Stadium, just as the state championship drought for Moorhead will hang over the Spuds for another season. Saturday’s loss will make it 26 years without the championship trophy.
“The things that we believe in as a program and the reason why we have success, tonight, were the things that cost us,” Feeney said. “The big plays that we were unable to contain on defense and the slow start on offense. ... I don’t think we won any one of the three phases.”
At halftime, Bemidji (9-3) had 271 yards rushing on 20 carries and Moorhead had 45 yards rushing and 16 yards passing. Schmidt had 244 yards on 10 carries in the first half and touchdown runs of 76 and 56 to lead the Lumberjacks to a 21-0 lead at the break.
“We had a more experienced team come this game,” Schmidt said. “I have to give everything I did to the offensive line. I couldn’t have done anything without them. On the other side, this game we were more experienced and more ready for what (Chase) Morlock brought to the table.”
Morlock, who is the star running back for Moorhead (10-1), was held to 39 yards on 12 carries in the first half and 88 yards on 20 carries overall, finding the end zone once. This came after rushing for 526 yards and nine touchdowns the previous two playoff games.
“Teams change a lot over the course of the season and, come playoff time, these kids found their identity,” Bemidji coach Troy Hendricks said. “Our coaching staff did a great job with the game plan and they were able to hold down Morlock throughout the game. We just tried to make sure there were a lot of guys with eyes on him all the time. We had guys specifically spying him.”
After Schmidt scored on a 48-yard run to make it 27-0, Moorhead answered with 14 unanswered points on a 20-yard touchdown reception from Aaron Lien to Brandon Porter with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left in the third and a 5-yard touchdown run from Morlock with 1:19 left in the third.
An 11-yard touchdown run from Jaylen Ingalls with 10:27 in the fourth changed Bemidji’s travel plans to the Metrodome for the state semifinals.
Moorhead was left with one blemish on its season. Unfortunately for the Spuds, it came in the quarterfinals rather than Week 1.
“There’s not a person here that expected to lose this football game,” Feeney said. “The growth and the steps that this football program has made is a direct result of those seniors in that locker room. I told them I’m proud to be a part of their football team, and it goes a long way past the football field. Great things happen to great people, and we got a lot of great people in that locker room.”
Bemidji 7 14 6 8 — 35
Moorhead 0 0 14 0 — 14
B-Hendricks 5 run (McNallan kick)
B-Schmidt 76 run (McNallan kick)
B-Schmidt 56 run (McNallan kick)
B-Schmidt 48 run (kick no good)
M-Porter 20 catch from Lien (Wiedrich kick)
M-Morlock 5 run (Wiedrich kick)
B-Ingalls 11 run (Schmidt run)
PASSING: B, Hendricks 1-2-0 26 yards. M, Lien 10-20-0 173 yards. RUSHING: B, Schmidt 19-320, Boes 8-22, Hendricks 7-43, Kroening 1-2, Ingalls 3-23. M, Morlock 20-88, Benedict 4-6, Lien 5-47, Lawrence 3-(-3), Porter 2-13. RECEIVING: B, McNallan 1-26. M, Lawrence 2-45 Morlock 2-73 Wheeler 1-7 B. Lawrence 2-17, Porter 3-31.