CAMBRIDGE – Bemidji’s defense tossed a shutout, the offense scored three touchdowns and the Lumberjacks advanced to the Section 7-5A football semifinals with a 21-0 victory at Cambridge-Isanti Saturday.
The win advanced BHS to Friday’s semifinal at Chisago Lakes. The Jacks entered the tournament seeded No. 3 while Chisago Lakes, which belted St. Francis 35-0 Saturday, is the top seed.
A pair of second-quarter touchdowns provided the necessary points but the defense stole the show Saturday. Cambridge, the second seed, could do little right against the Lumberjacks defenders and the shutout was fitting.
“The game ball went to the defense and I’m really proud of them,” said Bemidji coach Troy Hendricks. “I was nervous at the start because we threw in a couple of wrinkles for this game but they really, really played physical football.”
The Bluejackets had three first-quarter possessions and each was a three-and-out. Bemidji managed three first downs on its last of three possessions in the stanza and those first downs enabled the Jacks to gain field position.
That advantage proved beneficial early in the second period when Nick Hovila intercepted a Cambridge pass and returned it to the Bluejakets’ 47.
A few plays later quarterback James Hendricks avoided the rush and scrambled 14 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
Connor McNallan booted the conversion and 5:03 into the second quarter the Lumberjacks had all the points they would need.
The home team collected its initial first down on the next drive but the march stalled at the BHS 36 when the defense stuffed Chance Laidly for no gain on a fourth-and-1.
On the next play Bemidji runningback Tanner Boes raced for 22 yards and a play later Eric Fenson caught a 28-yard pass from Hendricks to give the Lumbejacks a first down at the Cambridge 13.
Boes took it from there, gaining three yards on his first run and scoring from 10 yards out on the second.
BHS maintained the 14-0 cushion at the break and early in the third quarter the defense helped the Lumberjacks overcome their lone mistake.
Cambridge recovered a fumbled punt at midfield and advanced to the Bemidji 29 before the Jacks defense stopped the Bluejackets on another fourth-and-1.
The defense needed to come through one more time early in the fourth stanza when Cambridge reached Bemidji’s 15 yard line.
A chop block backed the home team to the 35 and two plays later the Bluejackets fumbled a handoff and Sam Bruestle pounced on the loose ball.
Adding insult to injury, the Lumberjacks turned that miscue into the clinching touchdown. Brady Schmidt had the honors as his 2-yard blast capped an eight-play drive which also included a key 21-yard pass to Fenson and a 13-yard run by Schmidt.
Bemidji will take a 7-3 record into Friday’s section final while Chisago Lakes is 7-2. Cambridge finished its fall 6-3.
Bemidji 0 14 0 7 - 21
Cambridge 0 0 0 0 - 0
B-Hendricks, 14-run. PAT-McNallan kick. 5:03
B-Boes, 10-run. PAT-McNallan kick. 10:37
B-Schmidt, 2-run. PAT-McNallan kick. 8:10